Baby, baby, where
did our race go?
Just like that, it's over?
Boston Coach Doc Rivers surrendered in the East, acknowledging the Celtics can't catch Cleveland . . . while Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, intent on resting Olympians Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, mused about how long to pursue the Cavaliers, who'll play eight of their last 13 at home.
The tipping point was the Cavaliers' 3-0 West Coast trip, including dramatic fourth-quarter rallies against the Clippers and Kings.
Noted Jackson last week, showing how closely he followed it: "They escaped unscathed."
Deeper than the Celtics, more humble than the Lakers, the Cavaliers win when they're supposed to -- 2-5 against the Lakers, Celtics and Magic, 53-8 against everyone else, to the Lakers' 4-2 against Cleveland, Boston and Orlando, 50-12 against everyone else.
That's what makes champions, in the regular season, at least.
It's not too
soon to panic
Actually, it's too late for Boston, with Cleveland four games ahead, after the Celtics lost six games in the standings in five weeks amid injuries to the entire rotation except Paul Pierce, Eddie House and Gabe Pruitt.
Said Rivers, noting another looming threat -- Orlando, one game behind: "If we can get through this week, somehow, and still be within striking distance for the second seed, it would be great."
Well, maybe not great.
Even with Kevin Garnett back in their win in San Antonio, the Celtics are looking at Orlando and Cleveland back to back in the East draw. . . . with home-court advantage against neither if the Magic, which leads their season series, 2-1, with one game left -- Wednesday at Orlando -- finishes No. 2.
This one's over too.
It's LeBron James, who's deserving and in the right place, which is how it works, with more help than Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade -- but not too much, like Bryant and Dwight Howard.
Not that LeBron James worries about it, or as LeBron James said, "I don't care about what LeBron James does as an individual."
Nevertheless, as far as Mark Heisler is concerned, the award thing is out of control.
The Cavaliers now count James' "chase downs" -- catching an opponent and blocking his shot -- although we don't know whether LeBron's 20 lead the NBA, or are even in the top 10, telegenic as they are.
Next: LeBron gets MVP, but not defensive player of the year. Everyone in Cleveland says they're still disrespected.
On the bright side, the Lakers won't have to worry about Game 7 in Boston.
The "disgruntledness" Jackson noted hardly qualifies as a Lakers Issue -- that requires a threat to wipe out the franchise -- even if Jackson doesn't know whether to bench Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic, or call their parents.
The mid-April return -- after the regular season -- Jackson projected for Andrew Bynum was only to defer expectations, after Jackson went weeks refusing to say anything until some idiot/savant (me, actually) guessed early April.
Barring setbacks, of which there have been none, Mark Heisler is now focused on April 12, giving Bynum two games, or April 9, giving him four.
Bynum could retire and it still wouldn't be like the days when Shaquille O'Neal once said he was "upset to the highest point of upsetivity."
As disgruntletivity goes, this is nothing.
-- Mark Heisler