Mike Bresnahan covers the Lakers for The Times and ties up some loose ends on the day of his self-designated "game of the week." The Lakers play Wednesday night at Utah.
With the All-Star game only a few days away, it's time to look at the race in the Western Conference.
Not for first place. For eighth.
It's already a given the Lakers will win the West, but it's important to figure out who they are going to play in the first round. Not for the Lakers. For the reporters covering the Lakers.
Not one media member wants to see them play Oklahoma City in the first round -- much, much too sleepy of a town. Nobody wants them to play Utah again (just did it a year ago and, despite laudable changes in certain beverage laws, I'll pass).
No trips to Houston, please, a mini-version of L.A. with plenty of smog and traffic but no ocean. Nobody wants a Lakers-Clippers series -- no chance of accruing frequent-flier miles or hotel points. No one wants to go to Memphis -- Beale Street gets old and boring after one night and you want happy, refreshed reporters, no?
One thing's for sure: This is the conference race I'll be watching carefully the next several weeks.
Q&A of the day
Q: I finally could see how you look like the other night (I was watching Lakers pregame). And I can't believe you can't get a date. Is it true? You are so handsome, and so young, Mr. Bresnahan. I have a niece that I would like you to marry her. She is 30, good looking, has a good job, she is tall, she cooks very well, etc, etc. She lives in New York. (Sorry about my poor English).
-- Marcela A: Uh, I'm single? I think?
Record in weekly picks: 8-6
Utah has won 10 consecutive home games, a trend I noticed only because my fantasy basketball center, Mehmet Okur, showed a pulse for the first time this season.
He had 28 points against Portland the other day, cause for celebration on team "TBA," currently third among 14 teams.
(Of course, he promptly returned to his regular Okurian numbers the very next game, getting a lousy eight points and six rebounds against Denver, but I'm just going to pretend that didn't happen.)
Okur might post another single-single tonight, but the Lakers will lose without Andrew Bynum and maybe Kobe Bryant too.