LOS ANGELES - As the Kings showed last night, the Western Conference championship apparently goes through them.
They downed the first-place Hornets and host third-place San Antonio on Monday only to finish the regular season on Tuesday against the same Lakers who are tied with the Hornets. Win out, and the Kings just might be considered the most legendary spoilers of all-time.
All of which is why I made the trip to LA-LA land today for the Lakers-Spurs affair that is equally as relevant to the Western Conference race. Tipoff is minutes away, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson wanted to send his thanks to the Kings for their efforts last night. Actually, he's planning on sending something different.
Before the game, LA Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan asked Jackson if he called "Reggie" - as in Kings coach Reggie Theus - to show his appreciation.
"Reggie?" Jackson asked confused.
"Theus," Bresnahan answered.
"Oh, no," Jackson replied. "Ron Artest is the one everybody is going to send a birthday cake to. But (Artest) may come down here on Tuesday night and kick our butt anyway, so it might not matter."
* In other Western Conference race news, Denver has another must-win tonight at home against Houston in their fight for the eighth spot. Even if the Nuggets don't make it, I don't think firing George Karl is the answer.
The Warriors, who are tied with the Nuggets but don't have the tiebreaker, are desperately hoping for a Denver loss. Warriors guard Kelenna Azubuike, specifically, is calling on old college buddies for help. - Sam Amick