1. Kobe Bryant. Another big scoring night against the Toronto Raptors. Another dominant end-game performance. It’s business as usual with Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers, who are back atop the Western Conference standings. Thankfully, ABC has moved up the matchup (to 3pm EST from 7pm) on Sunday between LA and Houston.
2. Bubble Teams. Last night’s mid-major tournament finals saw the higher seeds (most notably Butler) advance. Meaning that the number of at-large bids didn’t dwindle any further. Of course, there’s plenty of time for that. And, plenty of time for certain teams in Orange to play themselves off the bubble entirely.
3. Mike Dunleavy. Remember when this pale, wiry fellow slashed through the Garden in February and dropped a career-high 36 on a demoralized and unprepared New York Knicks team? No. Well trust me, it happened. He scored 32 last night; giving him 30+ in four of his last ten games, and led the Indiana Pacers over Seattle. Dunleavy has really emerged as a borderline All-Star this season and should be the Most Improved Player. If they still give out that award.
4. Los Phoenix Suns. They made it into the Starting Five by beating Memphis? Yeah. They did. It seems like every game since Shaq arrived has seen them matched up against some elite team. They needed a night to pick a W against a lesser opponent. They needed to just win a game that wasn’t a statement, just a win. And the Grizz are just what they needed. Amare ran riot over them for 29 and 13 and the Suns racked up 132.
5. Western Kentucky. Led by Jeremy Evans (20/14) the Hilltoppers topped Middle Tennessee State to win the Sun Belt conference tournament and secure a bid to the Big Dance.