As hard as it is to watch their team right now - and both dark sunglasses and squinting are highly recommended in that exercise - Suns fans can take solace in something that always brings brightness to a gloomy day:

The Lakers stink too.

Oh, they are better than the Suns, which is not a Herculean accomplishment by any means.

But it's also painfully obvious that with Chris Paul in the wrong home dressing room at Staples Center and Superman (Dwight Howard) looking more likely to wind up in Smallville (Orlando or Dallas) than Metropolis (Hollywood), the Lakers are one Kardashian short of legitimate contender status (Lamar Odom).

Thursday's lackluster loss in Miami left the Lakers 1-5 on the road this season and without a signature victory among their 10-6 record.

Kobe Bryant is pouting, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are trade bait, and the Los Angeles Clippers, with wins over Miami and Dallas as well as handling the Lakers, look galvanized by comparison.

And like any Lakers superstar (Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Shaq, etc.) Kobe is taking part in the long-standing tradition of laying blame at the feet of the head coach. Or GM. Because it's certainly not the player's fault, right?

It's not going to take away all the pain of watching Channing Frye defend. Or Shannon Brown shoot. Or Robin Lopez do whatever it is he's trying to do out there.

But for Suns fans, it does help a little.

Sooth-er Bowl

We're down the to the Final Four in the NFL, but the first two rounds of playoffs have proven something we already know: It's cool to have a great quarterback and toss it all over the yard, but defense still rules the closer you get to championships.

Unless of course, we're talking about the New England Patriots, who not only have a great quarterback in Tom Brady but the kind of ingenuity and gumption that would make James Bond blush. Won't let us film your practice? Well then, we'll just hire one of your ex-coaches!

The Ravens, Giants and 49ers are still playing. Drew Bees and Aaron Rodgers are not. Even in the era of the quarterback and all the rule changes in their favor, football is still a team sport.

Which leads us to Sunday:

Ravens 20, Patriots 16: This is the last hurrah for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and company. And as good as the Patriots looked last week, Tom Brady has as many playoff wins as Tim Tebow over the last four years (one). The iffy-New England defense will have trouble keeping Ray Rice under wraps.

Besides, there should be at least one Harbaugh in the Super Bowl this year, and it's not going to be the other guy.

Giants 27, 49ers 23: When the playoffs began, I said I didn't think the Giants belonged. But as a registered Republican, I have the right to change horses at any time during a race and I will now invoke that option.

The 49ers are a nice story. They won a great game last week. They beat the Giants, 27-20, earlier in the season. They have the home swamp advantage, and their defense will keep them in the game.

But they are out-Manning-ed, 1-0, and the Giants defense will remind Alex Smith of exactly who he is all day long.

A Ravens-Giants Super Bowl? I know, yuck. The buffet might have to carry the day at your party.

Quick hitters

•The St. Louis Rams are going to host one game in London for the next three years. If they're ultimately headed back to Los Angeles the Rams are sure taking the long way home.

•Tiger Woods is disappointed that former coach Hank Haney is putting out a book on their coach/player relationship right before this year's Masters. Someone cheating on Tiger? Imagine that.

•The Coyotes can't buy a break. Center Martin Hanzal misses 12 games after getting hit in the head with a stick, and six minutes after he returns to the lineup, center Daymond Langkow gets hit in the face with a puck. Sometimes, it's just not your year.

That's all for now, but I'll check Rob Lowe's Twitter account and get back to you.

• Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at

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