• The Chicago Bulls clinched the Eastern Conference top seed with last night's 11-point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and will face the mighty Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. The Talents of South Beach and the Boston Celtics will play a consolation game on Sunday. [Chicago Tribune] (Photo H/T Zachff)
• "Irish sensation" Rory McIlroy remained atop the Masters leaderboard. He shot 3-under yesterday to go to -10 overall. Some dude from Australia named Jason Day is in second, two strokes behind the leader. An American guy with questionable taste in sidepiece selection is tied for third. You'll hear a bit about him this weekend. [New York Times]
• Manny Ramirez is neither better nor worse than Steve Bartman. [Chicago Tribune]
• Atlanta's Chipper Jones got the 2,500th hit of his career last night. His 2,499th, however, played an integral part in the Braves's 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, a game in which they pummeled Cliff Lee. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
• Say what you will about Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, but if you question his toughness, he'll wait 10 weeks and fire back with some fightin' words like this: "As for active players who railed against him, Cutler said, 'They can think what they want.'" Oh no he di'int. [Chicago Sun-Times]
• When the Strong Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins last did ice battle, 346 penalty minutes and suspensions resulted. They were back in the same rink last night. Eric Godard and Trevor Gillies got to scrapping within the first nine minutes. Video on the link. [Puck Daddy]
• Buffalo Sabre Nathan Gerbe's spinorama goal tied last night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period. They went on to win it in overtime, on a night where they needed a point to clinch a playoff berth. They did so in what could end up being a preview of a first-round matchup. [Buffalo News]
• Despite an I-Team plea for information leading to the identity of the Grand Rapids Griffins Forbidden Dancer, we are no closer to knowing the writhing performer's name in the hours after the Griffins lost their home finale and were eliminated from playoff contention. You got what you deserved, Grand Rapids. [Grand Rapids Press]
• David Beckham was on a Santa Monica beach to film a Pepsi ad with Sofia Vergara. The three trick shots he allegedly performed with a soccer ball in no way justify Vergara not appearing in this video. But, if real and unenhanced, Beckham's shots are pretty damn good. [Sportpost]
• Today's recommended soccer-viewing schedule: Manchester United vs. Fulham at 10 a.m., Barcelona vs. Almeira at 1:55 p.m., Udinese vs. Roma at 2:30 p.m and the Philadelphia Union vs. the New York Red Bulls at 7 p.m.
A few stories you might've missed.
Dirty Talk: Mark Payne, the police superintendent of Wolverhampton, sagely blogs about Wayne Rooney's apparent one degree of separation from the common street tough.
Clear and Present Danger: No, Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun did not drop dime on teammate Prince Fielder as a potato-chip filcher.
Cooperation: WJW Fox 8 News in Cleveland was kind enough to share with us — and, by extension, you — Gloria James's booking video from Miami Beach, along with footage of her coming after young LeBron's opponent in a 2002 high school game.