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KERO-WHACKED!
Posted by Rob Peterson on May 10 2004 1:45 p.m. ET

THE ROAD IS NO PLACE TO WIN A GAME

Going "On the Road" was much easier for Sal and Dean than NBA teams in the conference semifinals. With 10 conference semifinal games played through Sunday night, only one team -- the Sacramento Kings -- has managed to win a game away from home (and they blew a chance to win another one, but more on that later).

And because no one can win on the road, we inevitably get the "They're down 2-0, they're done" stories, followed by the even more inevitable "Look, they have life!" articles.

Still, it's our duty, nay, it is our pleasure to bring you news from each series. Let's start with the only series that's tied. Cool?

WOLVES-KINGS

After stealing Game 1 and home-court advantage from the Wolves, the Kings put on a performance in Game 2 that went right into the "Oh, that's not good, not good at all" file. The loss had that certain eau de toilet to it, vintage 2002.
-- Sacramento Bee

If anyone could take credit for preventing the Timberwolves from becoming an endangered species, it's Sam Cassell, who made shots and plays when it mattered.
-- Sacramento Bee

As a matter of fact, any time a player comes through in the Crunch, they inherit the mantle of Mr. Clutch from Jerry West
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Registration required)

And here's an interesting entry from the Sacramento Bee, two stories under the same headline: Two guards trying to call audibles. One is about Cassell and his inability to hear out of his left ear. The other is about Doug Christie needing to shake off his poor performance at the end of Game 2.
-- Sacramento Bee

LAKERS-SPURS

In the Spurs-Lakers series, broken ankles come one of two ways. First, you have the traditional method such as Tony Parker's killer crossover on Devean George. The second is the sound of all those folks jumping from the Lakers' bandwagon.

To wit, on Sunday, with the Lakers heading into Game 3 down 2-0:

Out of Control and Again, Lakers Near Exit Again
-- New York Times (Registration required)

Lakers Dilemma: To Be or Not To Be -- Great
Washington Post (Registration required)

The Glove is off: Payton isn't the player we remember
-- Seattle Times

Lakers talk of dynasty, but Spurs interrupt
-- L.A. Daily News

Parker has the Spurs running smoothly
-- Dallas Morning News (Registration required)

After the Lakers' impressive 105-81 win at STAPLES in Game 3, it's back on board the bandwagon as L.A. goes from Fakers to Lakers.

"I'm angry with the Los Angeles Lakers today, and you should be, too, for withholding their excellence until the eighth game of the NBA playoffs," writes Michael ("PTI") Wilbon of the Washington Post. "How dare they finally come to play three games into the second round?"

I can't share Wilbon's indignation because it discredits the effort of the Lakers' opponents in the first two round, especially the tail-kicking the Spurs delivered in the first two games of the conference semifinals series.

Mother of all revivals
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

They're in the mood for Glove
-- L.A. Daily News

Parker's third act a flop
-- San Antonio Express News (Registration required)

My prediction for Game 4: If the Lakers win, "Now it's a series!" If the Spurs win, "Lakers are done."

PISTONS-NETS

The Pistons lead the Nets 2-1 in this series, which features two of the league's more bruising teams and has highlighted defense, defense and more defense. The losing team has averaged 66.7 points in the three losses. 66.7! Didn't Michael Jordan score 63 points in a playoff game once? (That's a rhetorical question, people.) I rarely pine for the "good ol' days," but, c'mon, fellas.

While the teams are wielding brickbats on the floor, the sticks and stones are being thrown from the front office and the bench.

Seems that Nets GM Rod Thorn and Pistons coach Larry Brown have a cold war going on.

Present claws! Meow!
-- Both New York Post

PACERS-HEAT

We haven't reached South Beach yet in this series and already the prophets of doom have begun to speak of the Heat's demise.

As a matter of fact, those soothsayers appeared immediately. After the Pacers dispatched the Heat 94-81 in Game 1, the press room box score printouts had barely cooled when this column appeared: Heat miss best chance for upset.
-- Indy Star

Or as Bob Kravitz wrote: "The first thing the Indiana Pacers want to do this morning is ignore this column. Turn to Indiana Living and see what Billy Graham has to say. Or check out the front section of the paper, which is rumored to be filled with real-life news about things that matter.

"Because I'm going to say something here they don't want to read.

"This series is done."

I've had meals that have taken longer to digest.

After Game 2, it was no different, as the columnists suggested the Pacers essentially beat the Heat with one O'Neal tied behind their back.
-- Indy Star

Still, on paper, the Heat aren't half bad.
-- Miami Herald (Registration required)

ALL-TIME FINALS CHALLENGE

Here's how one man's selections for our All-Time Finals Challenge.
-- ESPN.com and NBA.com

What do I think? Well, since I'm not on the "experts" panel (I'm no expert, but I play one in Click and Roll), I figured it would be fun for me to breakdown the All-Time Finals Challenge as I see fit. So, let's get to pickin', shall we?

1. '96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) vs. 16. '70 New York Knicks (62-20)
How fans are voting: Bulls 93 percent; Knicks seven percent
How Click voted: Da Bulls!
Why Click voted as I did: As much as I love Walt Frazier's style, Bill Bradley's politics and Willis Reed's guts, Dennis Rodman would have laughed at Reed trying to play against him injured. I also would have loved to have seen anyone on that Knicks team guard an in-his-prime Toni Kukoc, let alone Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen.

8. '89 Detroit Pistons (63-19) vs. 9. 2000 L.A. Lakers (67-15)
How fans are voting: Lakers 54 percent; Pistons 46 percent
How Click voted: Pistons
Why Click voted as I did: God, I hated those Pistons teams just like I hated the '85 Chicago Bears (that's another story). But I despised them because they were good and nasty. This Pistons team went 15-2 in the playoffs. And while those who have voted for the Lakers have pointed to Shaq's "dominance" as a reason for their choice, does one think the battle-tested Pistons, who fought their way past good Sixers teams, good Hawks teams (honest, they were good then), good Bucks teams, great Celtics teams and finally a great Lakers team, would have blown a 15-point fourth quarter lead like the Blazers did against the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals? Two words for you: Hell. No.

5. '71 Milwaukee Bucks (66-16) vs. 12. '50 Mpls. Lakers (51-17)
How fans are voting: Bucks 84 percent; Lakers 16 percent
How Click voted: Duh, Bucks
Why Click voted as I did: I'm from Milwaukee. I'd vote for the Bucks regardless just like the 16 percent of you who voted for the Lakers are voting for them because of the Lakers' name. Except in this severe case of homerism/bandwagon driving, I'm right, because this Bucks team would have swept this Lakers team.

4. '86 Boston Celtics (66-16) vs. 13. '60 Boston Celtics (59-16)
How fans are voting: '86 Celtics 74 percent; '60 Celtics 26 percent
How Click voted: '86 Celtics
Why Click voted as I did: Those '86 Celtics were one of the best teams I have ever seen. They were 40-1 at home and even Bill Walton squeezed out one more magical year off the bench that season.

6. '83 Philadelphia 76ers (65-17) vs. 11. '91 Chicago Bulls (61-21)
How fans are voting: Bulls 66 percent; Sixers 34 percent
How Click voted: Sixers
Why Click voted as I did: It's too bad we couldn't include the '91-'92 Bulls team (rules are rules!) because that Bulls team was better than this one. But just because Mike's on the team, doesn't mean you need to pick it.

After picking up Moses Malone in the offseason in hopes of winning an NBA title, the '83 Sixers were as close as a team of destiny as you could get. They rumbled through the regular season and almost went "fo', fo', fo'" in the playoffs as Malone famously predicted. (They lost one game in the Eastern Conference finals.) The 1990-91 Bulls were a nice team, but better than the '83 Sixers? Nope, I can't go for that.

3. '67 Philadelphia 76ers (68-13) vs. 14. '65 Boston Celtics (62-18)
How fans are voting: Sixers 72 percent; Celtics 28 percent
How Click voted: Sixers
Why Click voted as I did: Wilt Chamberlain said the '67 Sixers were the best team for which he ever played. That, and they were the team that interrupted the Celtics' run of eight consecutive NBA titles.

7. '87 L.A. Lakers (65-17) vs. 10. '99 San Antonio Spurs (37-13)
How fans are voting: Lakers 80 percent; Spurs 20 percent
How Click voted: Lakers
Why Click voted as I did: With all due respect to Popovich, Duncan and Co., you're kidding, right?

2. '72 L.A. Lakers (69-13) vs. 15. '81 Boston Celtics (62-20)
How fans are voting: Lakers 65 percent; Celtics 35 percent
How Click voted: Lakers
Why Click voted as I did: A team wins 69 games, goes on a professional-sports-record 33-game win streak and still gets only 65 percent of the vote? What does a team need to do to get some love?

TIP-INS

Pistons coach Larry Brown is a basketball savant. He knows what every player has done and will do. He knows which shots will go in and which ones won't. He knows how many steps it is from every locker room to center court of every NBA arena. I also hear, he's an excellent driver. An excellent driver.
-- Newark Star-Ledger

How long did the Pacers need to wait between their first-round sweep and their opener with the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals? Austin Croshere had time to direct his gardener as to where the help should put the mums and posies. Jermaine O'Neal had some time to watch some cool and gross invasive surgery on the Health Channel.
-- Indy Star

Not only did O'Neal get to watch surgery on TV, he was able to go back in time as well and attend a prom. He didn't have enough time to learn how to pin on a corsage, however.
-- Indy Star

This column is funny and sad at the same time.
-- Orlando Sentinel (Registration required)

Where does practically every NBA big cheese get his start? Wisconsin, of course.
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

How hot was Sam Cassell in Game 2 against the Kings? See for yourself.
(David Sherman
NBAE/Getty Images)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
May 3 -- Fugazy Like a Fox
April 26 -- Click Gets Randy
April 19 -- Playoffs CW, IQ
April 12 -- Give Them Away
April 5 -- Fight for First
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
Check out NBA.com's "Destination Finals" section for a complete recap of all of the 2004 postseason action.

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
May 10-16: We'll have at least three Game 5s this week.

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 Lakers' resurrection. Et tu, Steve? "Suddenly this series looks like it could become the epic battle many observers predicted."

'ROUND THE GLOBE
Want to know how hoop is being played around this little blue marble?

The Spurs' Tim Duncan still has his eyes on Greece this summer. Others, not so much. Athens: Beautiful, historic and frightening.
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)