HOUSTON -- The Lakers are lapping the field in the Western Conference. Even with a three-game road losing streak -- gasp -- going into Wednesday, the descendants of Showtime are on the verge of wrapping up the No. 1 seed.
With 18 games left in the regular season, the magic number for clinching homecourt throughout the West playoffs stands is down to 12. The only real intrigue left is whether Kobe and his Ko-horts can finish ahead of the best out East.
But it's not as if the Lakers (51-13) don't peek into the rearview mirror time and again to scan the rest of the conference. While second-place San Antonio trails the Lakers by an insurmountable 7.5 games, No. 8 Dallas is considerably closer than that to the Spurs.
Traffic? Try seven-car pileup.
"We're all fans on the game, so we pay attention to what goes on night to night," Lakers sage Derek Fisher said, "but not with thoughts of preference or matchup or we hope this team gets this spot or that spot."
Top seeds don't maneuver. They don't need or have to. For all those who criticized the Mavericks for not knocking Golden State out of the playoffs when they had a chance late in the season three years ago should remember that Dallas won 67 games. An eighth seed, however dangerous or motivated its coach may be, shouldn't beat No. 1seed.