GEE, what a fluke: The Lakers spread out, run their offense through Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom and shred the Nuggets defense for countless unchallenged layups and jumpers in Games 5 and 6, many by predator Kobe Bryant who often found himself alone with just one defender to shame then slay.
Kobe is Kong, overpowering, compelling and neurotic. Gasol is L.A.'s centrifugal force minus the celebratory primal screams and beating on the chest. When utilized correctly by Kobe & Co., Pau provides unanswerable peculiarities only Dwight Howard may be able to nullify should they square off in The Finals.
Pau's rare '70s-like disposition and cache were the difference in strip-mining the Nuggets -- so smooth on his feet ballet-dancing left or right for baby hooks or turnaround springers, so poised peering over the defense before making the proper pass, so pristine from 15 from the line after getting hammered.
Ignoramuses call Gasol soft. Why? Not violent enough? 'Cuz he doesn't flex and snort and 'bo cutters and sideswipe opponents when they're off balance and grab legs and arms like Kenyon Martin, or trip and push like Denver's insignificant other henchman Dahntay Jones.
That ain't hoop. What, they're hard and Gasol's soft? After a few games, that stuff turned me off to the Nuggets and stained what they had accomplished.
As for the 7-foot Gasol, he is one beautiful basketball player to behold. Hopefully kids are paying more attention to his actions and acumen than the attitudes of a couple stray altitudes.
Meanwhile, never has a team gone back and forth from certified lethargic to lethal as the Lakers did while successfully defending their spaghetti Western Conference title.
The barbershop quartet of Kobe, Gasol, Odom and Trevor Ariza (Orlando GM Otis Smith's last ghastly trade) went a combined 34-of-53 from the field. I can only surmise the magnitude of the mauling had Andrew Bynum actually presented a pulse.
So, L.A. sat and waited to see who rose in the East . . . and now will face the Magic in the Finals beginning Thursday at the Office Supply Center.
Phil Jackson is going after his 10th title. For the unaware, this is one more than Red Auerbach and three more than my local library.
Nobody was rooting more feverishly for a Nuggets-Magic Finals than column contributor Meir 'Z' Ribalow: "I wanted so much to see if George Karl could get his team to complete an inbounds pass when Stan Van Jeremy instructs his team not to prevent one."
Had LeBron James managed to pull this series out, not only would he have been guaranteed sainthood, submits column contributor Dino DiPietro, "but Tom Hanks had promised to hand over the keys to the Vatican archives."
How many of you were rooting for the Cavs to win by one point in regulation so Patrick Ewing's idiotic technical foul could've been the difference? Lucky for the Magic, assistant Rashard Lewis bailed him out.
How come 6-foot-10 Anderson Varejao twice was able to steal Hedo Turkoglu's high dribble yet 6-foot-1 Delonte West hasn't ball-jacked it once?
Why did Don Nelson view Mickael Pietrus as purely a long distance dialer and fail to recognize his defensive prowess? It's not as if the 6-foot-7 forward was against assuming the stance. In two encounters with the Nets two seasons ago, Pietrus shut down Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, and has swiftly evolved into the first player who can almost guard LeBron without help.
Apparently, rising free agent-of-choice Carlos Boozer is telling confidants he's either going to Detroit or New Jersey -- only way the capsized Nets pull that off is by doing a sign-and-trade. Word has it Jersey will have but three assistants next season and all must take pay cuts.
Shocking the 76ers would diss the campaigning-for-the-job Doug Collins and hire Eddie (230-288) Jordan.
Hornets, to name one of many teams expected to sell first-round picks, are almost definite to deal their No. 1. They're also talking to Jannero Pargo (played in Greece last season) about bringing him back. Hawks unrestricted free agent Josh Childress is sure to return to the NBA as well, maintain sources, but not to Atlanta. His high opinion of himself (starter vs. subs) conflicted with coach Mike Woodson.
Stephen Curry put on an unreal shooting performance at Chicago's NBA Draft Combine and allegedly grew another inch this season. His athleticism remains shaky. Biggest positive of the event probably was fact teams could interview candidates in the afternoons. So how come Blake Griffin, who tested for 20 minutes Friday afternoon, was kept from speaking to a single team by his agent? What's that about?
Jay Leno signed off his late-night show Friday night, but Jimmy Fallon remains. "That's a friggin' miscarriage of justice," e-mailed Phil Spector.
This just in: Employing truth in advertising, the Knicks have unveiled their new marketing slogan for potential ticket-buyers . . . Drag Me to Hell.