The Laker Bunch
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PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 11, 2007-- Sung to the tune of The Brady Bunch theme song:

Hereís the story, of the man called Kobe
Who is sitting on three very lovely rings
All of them with the purple and gold, and The Daddy
Five years since L.A. was king

Hereís the story, of a wise Zen Master
Who has been there with nine rings of his own
Now add Odom, Walton and Bynum playing together
Itís a team full grown

Till the one day when Kobe started passing
And fans knew that it was much more than a hunch
That this team would somehow form a family
Thatís the way we've come to know the Laker Bunch

Apologies if you are humming this tune the rest of the day, but who thought the Lakers would be 30-21 through the first 51 games?

And now, these are the 10 things I learned from last week ...

1. Toronto is hot

Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the Raptors have to be taken seriously as one of the better teams in the East.

It's a tough transition to make as the dunking dino's had just 60 wins over the last two seasons combined.

Since Valentine's Day is coming up I'll give you the love analogy: Compare it to being completely platonic friends with a girl for two years and all of the sudden looking at her in a romantic way.

While Toronto has blossomed into a lovely contender from the East, the team is becoming less and less like a box of chocolates as hoop fans know they're going to get consistent dominance night-in and night-out from Chris Bosh.

Bosh had scored 20-plus points in 15 straight games, including a career-high 41 on Feb. 7 against Dwight Howard and the Magic, until Saturday night when he ran into the Pistons' buzz saw and posted a "measly" 14 points and 11 rebounds.

2. Detroit is hotter

A change of scenery has done Chris Webber well.

As one of the most talented players ever to come into the league, it seemed that those skills would be overshadowed by lingering injuries and poor team performance as Webber finished out his career.

Joe Dumars flipped the script and made sure C-Webb's tenure wouldn't fade out like that by acquiring him last month.

Since Webber's addition, Detroit is 10-3 and is riding a six-game winning streak during which No. 84 is averaging 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds.

3. Injury replacements

Commissioner Stern got it right.

With Yao Ming (right knee) and Carlos Boozer (left fibula) both unable to give it a go in the All-Star game, two spots were open in the West and the right players were chosen.

Carmelo Anthony leads the league in scoring and to punish him again for the mistake he made at the Garden by leaving him off the team would be like double jeopardy.

The other selection, Josh Howard, is a key member of a Dallas team with the best record in the league and his putting up the best numbers of his four-year career.

The league's best team deserves two players and the league's leading scorer needs to be there as well. It's that simple.

4. More on Melo

I know I just made the case for Anthony based on his scoring acumen, but his all-around game is at an all-time high.

He put up 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Feb. 5 vs. Phoenix, the first triple-double of his career, and has followed up the triple dip with 27, nine and six against the Hornets; 34, six and five against the Pacers; and 29, eight and 10 vs. the Bucks.

The numbers are needed as Allen Iverson is nursing an ankle injury and the Nuggets have won two games straight after dropping seven out of eight.

5. Trade reunion

In the first game against their former team, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington made the Warriors look like they got the better deal as Golden State played at Indiana on Feb. 5.

Jackson had a season-high 36 points and Harrington contributed 16 and 10 rebounds as the duo outperformed the new Pacers Troy Murphy (three points, four rebounds) and Mike Dunleavy (11 points, 13 rebounds but just 4-for-15 from the field) in a 113-98 win.

You have to think if only Jackson and Harrington played this well at Conseco Field House when they were on the Pacers their trade to Golden State might never have happened.

But then this item in The McTen would never be written and there would probably be something like a TGIF reference in its place.

6. Celtics sliding

If the 2006-07 Celtics season were a TV show on FOX it could be called Boston Public Rest Room because it stinks.

It's tough to sugarcoat a 17-game losing streak for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.

I'm rooting for them though. I read a headline on the other day that said "Randolph Scores 40 in Win" but I read it as "Rondo Scores 40 in Win" because I was just scanning the page quickly and I got excited for Boston for breaking the slump and having their rook blow up.

Of course I read it wrong though. The night Zach Randolph got his 40, Rajon Rondo had six points on 1-for-7 shooting.

7. Gilbert watch

Today is Feb. 11. Know what that means?

It's time for Gilbert Arenas to score 50 points against the Trail Blazers.

If Arenas can really pull off the prediction, which he boldly announced in his blog, it will be legendary stuff.

I'm talking Babe Ruth pointing to the stands before hitting one out of the park level.

If he doesn't score 50, however, he will enter into the realm of former Atlanta Hawks GM Pete Babcock who (in)famously guaranteed a playoff berth in 2003 and ended up losing his job when his team couldn't fulfill his promise.

8. Must be fun to be a Bobcats fan

OK, seems like a strange statement when Charlotte has lost four in a row, but overtime games are the coolest and the Bobcats keep finding themselves playing more than 48 minutes.

The latest installment was a 108-100 loss to Portland on Friday.

The Bobcats have already downed the Lakers twice using extra sessions this season -- the first in a triple-OT thriller that saw Kobe drop 58 points.

There is something exciting about a team that always plays overtime. As a fan you get to watch more crucial possessions and get the potential for more last-second shots to tie or win the game.

Put it this way: If OT is like a satisfying dessert after the meal of an NBA game, then Bobcats fans have definitely packed on a few pounds this season.

9. Sprite Slam Dunk contest wish

Oh man, you think Simon, Paula and Randy are big time judges, wait until the Sprite Slam Dunk at All-Star Weekend.

Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving and the one and only Michael Jordan will be holding up the numbers for Gerald Green, Dwight Howard, Tyrus Thomas and Nate Robinson.

You literally can't pick a better panel, but these young leapers better bring it because I could see all of the judges being pretty skimpy with giving out 10s.

I mean, it will take a lot to impress them.

I feel for the young guys. How would you feel if you went to the DMV when you were 16 to get your license and the guy in the passenger seat grading you for the driving test was Jeff Gordon?

Here's hoping my editor Rob Peterson's wish comes true and Vince and Kobe make like Superman and change out of their suits in a phone booth at midcourt and join in the fray.

10. Not too late for the Hornets

New Orleans/Oklahoma City had been snake bit this season with injuries to David West, Bobby Jackson, Peja Stojakovic and the franchise, Chris Paul, but don't look now, they're back.

The Hornets are 8-2 over their last 10 games and three of those wins were against Utah, Houston and Denver -- all teams ahead of them in the Western Conference playoff race.

Peja is still out and might not return this season from a back injury, but he has remained optimistic and hasn't ruled out a comeback which could be just the boost his team needs if it comes down to the last couple weeks of the season and an eighth seed up for grabs.

Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Get at me.