A sobering realization for Lakers fans: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol & Co. could be finished for the season long before June. . . .
As in, the end could come as soon as Friday night. . . .
Like the Lakers this year, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs opened the playoffs on a roll in 2004, winning their first six games and taking heart in the knowledge that NBA teams seldom rally from 0-2 series deficits. . . .
Then they lost four in a row and were eliminated. . . .
By the Lakers. . . .
Included, of course, was Derek Fisher's 0.4 miracle. . . .
Deron Williams and the Utah Jazz overcame a 2-0 deficit last season, rallying to eliminate Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets in the opening round. . . .
Bill Duffy, whose sports management agency is at the center of the O.J. Mayo imbroglio, is a former college basketball player who reportedly roomed with Kevin McHale and played with Mychal Thompson at Minnesota before transferring to Santa Clara, where he lived in the same dorm as Kurt Rambis. . . .
Duffy was a fifth-round pick in the 1982 NBA draft. . . .
Unsolicited advice for USC: Pass on the next O.J. . . .
Noting that he used some language he "shouldn't have used" in telling his mother to sit down Monday night when she came to his defense, LeBron James added, "Thank God today wasn't Mother's Day." . . .
So, it's OK to speak to her like that on any other day? . . .
Flip Saunders must wear collars that are too tight. . . .
Kiki Vandeweghe's recently announced promotion by the New Jersey Nets, reader and Palisades High graduate Doug Thomson proudly notes, means that two of the NBA's 30 general managers are former Pali High basketball players, the other being Steve Kerr of the Phoenix Suns. . . .
Don Cherry's outfits make Craig Sager's look timid. . . .
Of the four players from last year's draft voted onto the NBA's all-rookie first team, Al Thornton of the Clippers was the lowest pick, taken 14th. . . .
Luis Scola of the Rockets was the 56th pick in 2002. . . .
Though Donald Sterling's club has made more lottery picks than any other NBA team, Thornton is only the fourth L.A. Clipper to make the all-rookie first team, following Charles Smith, Lamar Odom and Darius Miles. . . .
Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Norm Nixon, Byron Scott and six other Lakers have made the all-rookie team, among them Vlade Divac and Eddie Jones, the only two to make it since the lottery was introduced in 1985. . . .
Noting that the Dodgers have signed Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Nomar Garciaparra and Esteban Loaiza to big-money contracts under General Manager Ned Colletti, reader Mike Casey of Temecula e-mails, "I suggest Colletti might invest in a pair of $2.99 glasses at Wal-Mart before he makes his next move." . . .
For Eric Gagne and the Dodgers, the feeling probably is mutual. . . .
They don't regret his leaving either. . . .
Barry Bonds is falling behind in the counts. . . .
Scalper alert: LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers are the only NFL team that will host visits by both Tom Brady's New England Patriots and Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts in 2008. . . .
The announcement of Annika Sorenstam's retirement is a major blow to the LPGA Tour, which could use all the name recognition it can get. . . .
By the way, Sorenstam's fiance, Mike McGee, is not the former USC athletic director, nor is he the former basketball player who helped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers win NBA titles in 1982 and 1985. . . .
He is a former agent and son of former PGA Tour pro Jerry McGee. . . .
The Rose Bowl, preparing for its 95th game in January, will expand its game records after poring over historical accounts of past contests. . . .
According to Men's Fitness magazine, America's fittest man is a golfer. . . .
Of course, it's Tiger Woods. . . .
Joining Woods, presidential hopeful Barack Obama and actor Will Smith on the list of the "25 fittest guys in America" are, among others, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Brady Quinn of the Cleveland Browns and former UCLA and Long Beach Poly High star Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies. . . .
Other athletes making the cut: surfer Greg Long; ultimate fighter Mac Danzig; beach volleyball player Ty Loomis; sprinter Walter Dix; skateboarder Ryan Sheckler; heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko; and rapper, actor and USC basketball-player-to-be Romeo Miller. . . .
Lil' Romeo has filled out.