Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Pau, Danica, More

↵Today's Calls: Pau Gasol vs. Shaquille O'Neal, Sixers vs. Pistons, David Ortiz vs. Mario Mendoza, Frank Thomas vs. Barry Bonds, Aaron Harang vs. Tom Glavine, Danica Patrick vs. Billie Jean King, Bruins vs. Canadiens and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: The difference between the Lakers of last season's playoffs and this season's playoffs was on full display Sunday: ↵

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↵Pau Gasol. ↵

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↵Kobe will be Kobe (and his usual supporting cast will be his supporting cast), but the addition of Pau Gasol is why the Lakers are the No. 1 team in the West playoffs: ↵

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↵36 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists -- a monster Lakers playoff debut (and Gasol's first-ever playoff win) that puts the rest of the conference on notice that the tandem of Pau and Kobe (a "quiet" 32... if that's even possible) is the best pair in the NBA. ↵

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↵Kobe and Kwame seems so long ago, doesn't it? ↵

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↵In case you missed it, the biggest sports story of the weekend was the gender-bending breakthrough: Danica Patrick becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race; I have said this before: Patrick winning the Indy 500 would be the biggest moment in the history of women in sports (if not women's sports). ↵

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↵More thoughts from NBA Sunday: OK, so who had the Sixers winning Game 1 in Detroit? (Yeesh: On Friday, did I really pick the Pistons to win the East?)... Did the feisty Sixers, who played hard through the end of the season, take advantage of the fact that the Pistons couldn't just turn it on after phoning it in for the last month, even up 15 midway through the 3rd quarter... Dwight Howard (25 and 22) wins Sunday's just-created Chris Paul Award for "Even better in the playoffs than the regular season"... Celtics rout Hawks? Yawn. ↵

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↵NBA Saturday: If that Spurs-Suns game was a Game 7, we would be calling it a Top 5 game in NBA history... LeBron's reach-back alley-oop finish was one of the Top 5 dunks of his career... No team needed a Game 1 win more than the Hornets... After all that jockeying for playoff position, just like that, the Rockets lost that apparently not-so-precious home-court advantage. ↵

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↵For a ton more analysis, check out Nathaniel Friedman's new NBA Playoffs column, "Finals Countdown." (Insert your own keyboards dirge.) ↵

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↵Barry Bonds Watch: Blue Jays release Frank Thomas. By association, the Jays' first call should be to Bonds, who I'm sure would have none of Thomas' problems with a pinch-hitting role. Meanwhile, Thomas will find work somewhere, but only as a top-notch PH, not the everyday player he thinks he should be... ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Hope you enjoyed mocking David Ortiz's season-opening slump; it appears to be over (5/12, 8 RBI in Fri-Sat-Sun games)... Chase Utley!... Fantasy Star of the Day: Aaron Harang (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 8 K)... Jair Jurrjens!... Milestone Watch: Jim Thome ties Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews on all-time HR list... Scott Olsen's 3-0 start is one step closer to his inevitable midseason meltdown... DL Watch: Which is the stranger name to see on the DL -- Jimmy Rollins or Tom Glavine?... ↵

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↵One Thing To Know About The NHL Playoffs: You can not care about hockey at all, but you really should tune in for the Canadiens-Bruins Game 7. First of all, NHL Playoff Game 7s -- any team, any round -- are the best in sports. (If you're a junkie, there could be TWO Game 7s tomorrow night: Flyers at Caps and Flames at Sharks.) Second, the Bruins were down 3-1, on the brink of a spectacularly dramatic comeback. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, and that's the end of the defending champs: The Ducks were ousted by the Stars in six games, with only memories of last season's title to keep them satisfied in an extra-long offseason.) ↵

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↵Lorena Ochoa is the new Tiger Woods: Four wins in four weeks? Someone get that woman her own brand of Gatorade. ↵

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↵NFL Draft Week: The countdown is on. Continuing lead-up coverage all week long, culminating with the Wake-Up Call Mock Draft later this week. For now, a few key storylines: What will the Dolphins do at No. 1 and how will that impact the rest of the Top 10? Who will take Darren McFadden, the most talented skill-position player in the draft? Who is the heir to Brady Quinn, the guy who will humiliatingly plummet through the first round? So much more coming throughout the rest of the week. More NFL: Whither the pass-rushers? Sounds like Jason Taylor wants to stay in Miami... Looks like the Vikings are going to make a move for Jared Allen after the draft... (via PFT) The Last Word: Congrats to Eli Manning on his weekend nuptials. If he doesn't win the Super Bowl again, you can blame his marriage. Then again, after winning this past Super Bowl, he can do what he wants. I guess with NFL expectations now off his back forever, expectations from his new spouse can't possibly be as rough. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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