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THE FIGHT FOR FIRST
Posted by Rob Peterson on April 5 2004 4:00 p.m. ET

PARDON THIS INTERRUPTION

We have five quick things before we get to the meat of Click and Roll this week.

1) Chris Webber is not asking to be traded. Or so this article claims. (More on the whole, "Should we trade the superstar?" dilemma later.)
-- Sacramento Bee

2) Brent Barry had the sickest pass of the season on Sunday in the Sonics win over the Hornets. Check out this video about one minute into the highlights: 56k | 300k

3) And you gotta love this headline: Pistons smother hapless Pacers.
-- Detroit News

Why do I love it? Because I get a chance to disagree with it. The Pacers may have had a bad day in their loss to the Pistons on Sunday, but in sports being hapless is a chronic condition. Right now, the Magic and the Clippers, both of whom have double-digit losing streaks and are headed toward the lottery are hapless. (Sorry, guys, it's true.) But the team which clinched home-court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs is hapless? Hardly.

4) A lot more newspapers are asking you to register for free access to their content these days. It's a pain in the butt, I know, as most of the major dailies covering the NBA have gone to the registration. We try to link to as many sites as possible that don't require registration, but it's becoming more difficult. Still, nearly 99 percent of newspaper sites are still free and most of you are web savvy enough to know to navigate this inconvenience. If you're having trouble, just use the same username and password for every site for which you register. Hope this helps.

5) Grades are out. They're posted by the dean's office.
-- SI.com

Now, back to our regularly scheduled Click and Roll.

TOUGH AT THE TOP

Don't look now ... Oh, all right, you can look. No, seriously, please, look at the NBA standings.

What do you see? With four teams within 1 games with 10 days remaining in the regular season, you're seeing one of the best races for home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs ever.

You'll see the defending champion Spurs have won six in a row, including a stellar 95-89 win against the Lakers in L.A. on Sunday.
-- San Antonio Express-News (Registration required)

One L.A. columnist notes that the Spurs served notice by snapping the Lakers' 11-game winning streak.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Spurs long arm of the law, Bruce Bowen thinks this Spurs sneaking up on the Lakers is just fine.

"I like where we are," Bowen told the L.A. Times. "You don't have to talk about us. We're just vanilla, whereas the Lakers are Chunky Monkey or something like that."

Mmm... ice cream. Speaking of ice, let's talk about Minnesota. The Timberwolves, whose grip on the Midwest Division lead has been tenuous throughout the second half of the season thanks to inconsistent play, has won five consecutive games and are 1 games ahead of the Spurs after Sunday's big win over the Grizzlies.
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration required)

And while you know KG has had an MVP-type season, Sam Cassell and Michael Olowakandi have stepped it up as of late.
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration required)

Probably the best description of the playoff mindset I've seen. (It's one of those head-slappers -- I'm mad that I didn't think of it first.)
-- Memphis Commercial Appeal

Then, there are the Kings, who had lost four of their last five and watched as the Lakers roared past them into the Pacific Division lead. But thanks to the Spurs' win, the Kings tip-toed past the Lakers by one-half game thanks to a gritty win in Houston on Sunday.
-- Sacramento Bee

Should be a good final 10 days. Visit NBA.com tomorrow to get a complete analysis on the playoff races.
-- NBA.com

CRANK UP THE CAROUSEL

More than half the league -- 15 to be exact -- started with or has picked up a new head coach since the beginning of the 2003-04 season. And if you think that's the end of it, well, we have a coaching vacancy to offer you for your next job.

Yes, it's that time of year again when the speculation starts to fly. And when the speculation starts to fly, everyone gets splattered. So, grab your smocks, put on your goggles and don't breathe through your mouth because we're diving right in.

With 45 words, the Pat Riley to Dallas rumor began.
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Riley says, well, of course those rumors aren't true.
-- The Oregonian

All of which makes this man nervous.
-- San Francisco Chronicle

On Thursday, the Raptors fired Glen Grunwald and replaced him in the interim with Jack McCloskey, who won two NBA titles as GM of the Pistons.
-- Toronto Sun

One Toronto paper said the Raptors need a savvy GM. Question is: Could Vince Carter be on the block?
-- Toronto Star, Houston Chronicle

Speaking of on the block, very few superstars are untouchable when it comes to trades. Check out this Sam Smith column about some of the famous names who have been dealt.
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

Of course, there are rampant rumors about Allen Iverson being dealt.
-- Sacramento Bee

Then, how about Denver's Jeff Bzdelik? As of Monday, he's guided the Nuggets into the eighth playoff spot, seen his team improve by 23 games and his head could still be on the chopping block.
-- Denver Post

I'm telling you, the NBA is a tough room.

LEBRON-MANIA

Well, that was quick. I figured it might take a couple of years, but someone said it before his first season was through.
-- Dallas Morning News (Registration required)

And can LeBron triple his pleasure? This columnist seems to think so.
-- Cleveland Plain-Dealer

BOSS' LINK O' THE WEEK

A great story about how the NBA is not only an escape from poverty and hardship here in the States, but also for many international players as well.
-- Indy Star

MAIL CALL

It was a busy week (again). I will get to the three-foul shots e-mail in next week's Click and Roll. Promise. Really.

TIP-INS

Now, Rick Fox is thinking of retiring. Poor guy. Too bad he won't have anything to look forward to after his playing days are over (acting, Vanessa Williams, etc.).
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

And now, fresh from STAPLES where they keep everyone in stitches, it's the Shaq and GP Variety Hour.
-- Los Angeles Times

Anyone for switching names and bringing the Jazz back to New Orleans? This guy's all for it.
-- New Orleans Times-Picayune

Good luck, Cheryl.
-- L.A. Daily News

On March 29, Caron Butler saw the birth of his daughter. Later that night, with 30 points, he asked the Bulls: "Who's your daddy?"
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

This is one long-distance hoops ... ahem ... courtship.
-- Deseret News

Here's an interesting story as to why NBA players go through as many as 82 pairs of shoes in a season.
-- Dallas Morning News

It's probably best to spring ahead when you're supposed to.
-- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Maybe the Magic will bring their talisman to the Lottery with them.
-- Orlando Sentinel (Registration required)

Duncan and Parker need to connect if the Spurs want to make another run at the title.
(Chris Covatta
NBAE/Getty Images)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
March 29 -- Prime Time
March 22 -- East Bests West?
March 15 -- Very Scary Bears
March 8 -- Sick and Tired
March 1 -- West Side Story
Feb. 24 -- Surfing the Nets
Feb. 17 -- City of Angles
Feb. 13-15 -- All-Star Blog
Feb. 9 -- Git Up, Git Out
Feb. 2 -- Lobbying for L.A.
Jan. 26 -- Midwest is Best
Jan. 19 -- More Central
Jan. 12 -- Grand Central
Jan. 8 -- Starbury Time
Dec. 29 -- American Rookies
Dec. 22 -- The Greatest Gift
Dec. 15 -- Hail the Kings
Dec. 8 -- Spurs Sportsmen
Dec. 1 -- Holiday Exchange
Nov. 24 -- Hive Talkin'
Nov. 17 -- Clip and Save
Nov. 10 -- Short People

BACKCOURT
The week that was:
March 30: 'Melo's 41
March 31: Spurs' statement No. 1
April 1: Small ball, y'all!
April 4: Sam-I-Am 36

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
April 6: Every game has playoff implications, whether it applies to making the playoffs or playoff positioning
April 7: See also, Tuesday
April 8: Wolves at Kings, division winners? (TNT, 10 ET)
April 9: Grizzlies at Lakers. A test for Memphis

THE NUMBER
17 -- Are you kidding me? The Spurs have beaten the Jazz 17 straight times? That's unbelievable.
--Salt Lake Tribune

WEEKLY KERR
My boss likes Steve Kerr's Yahoo! column. I like my job. Here's this week's link to Steve's piece on ... the fall of the Kings. Steve also managed to work in a Brady Bunch reference.

PLAYOFF ROSTER
Congratulations to the Bucks and the Mavs, both of whom clinched spots in the 2004 NBA Playoffs. The West needs two more teams, the East needs to fill out the lower half of its playoff roster.

Date clinched -- Team
March 5 -- Indiana
March 17 -- Sacramento
March 18 -- Detroit
March 21 -- Minnesota
March 23 -- L.A. Lakers
March 25 -- New Jersey
March 26 -- San Antonio
March 28 -- Memphis
March 30 -- Dallas
April 4 -- Milwaukee