By Sam Rubenstein
T.G.I.Fri-daaaaaay!

This was a long week. No time for small talk. There were only two games last night, so let’s get right to them.

LA CLIPPERS 118 LA LAKERS 110
Kobe scored 50 again, and though he denies it, he was tired for the last 8 minutes or so of the game. As he wore down, the Lakers blew a 10-point lead, and the Clips got a huge spark from the return of Sam Cassell. His veteran leadership was priceless, but you can’t overlook the monster nights from Corey Maggette (39-8-9 on 10 of 15 shooting) and Elton Brand (32-12-7). The Clippers refuse to go away and let the Warriors settle into the 8th seed. Golden State is a half game up, though the Lakers are in somewhat of a slump and are only two games ahead of the Warriors for the 7th seed. So the lesson from this game from a Lakers perspective is that when Kobe scores 50+, sometimes the Lakers win, sometimes they lose. There are no right answers. The Clippers could have quit on their season many times, with all of the veterans that got their big contracts, but they kept playing hard. Very backwards in today’s NBA.

CLEVELAND 94 NEW JERSEY 76
The Cavs used a big third quarter to put this one out of reach, with LeBron leading the way. He finished with 35 and 8. I think the last line of the AP recap says it all about the Nets “Although the Nets have a league-high four 7-footers on their roster, Kidd leads the club with 8.0 rebounds per game.” Jason Kidd is a great rebounder for a guard, but the Nets have some really bad 7 footers. In this game they were outrebounded 42-29. The Cavs have clinched home court in round one, and are now fighting with the Bulls for the #2 seed. Jersey falls to a game and a half behind Washington.