Having finally got caught on Netflix and finished up watching “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” it is time to ask: Where art thou, Lakers?
Buster, you best get back in the game.
The NBA All Star break may make us assume this was a mid-season exhibition, but check the calendar. Fifty seven games have elapsed in the Lakers’ 2018-19 schedule – with a meager 28-29 showing, two games out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. With 25 games left, if the Lakers don’t win at an .800 clip, are they finished? Fortunately, there are no more meetings with the Knicks. First game out of the break is a nationally TV appearance at Staples Center against Houston (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT) and then on the road to (possibly) pay a visit to Anthony Davis at New Orleans (Saturday, 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) and give the roster a chance to see what it would have been like at home in the Smoothie King Center.
The Clippers (32-27, eighth in the West) claim they haven’t given up on this season, either, and start the last two month-run at Memphis (Friday, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket) and at No. 2 Denver (Sunday, 2 p.m., Prime Ticket).
How much more average can UCLA (13-13, 6-7) or USC (14-12, 7-6) get as they mildly build toward the Pac-12 Conference basketball tournament in Las Vegas. The Trojans’ Benny Boatwright at least appears to be engaged in the process, coming off a win over lowly Cal where he set a team record with 10 3-pointers.
This week’s visit by the Oregon schools won’t move any needles — the Beavers (16-8, 8-4) have a little run going — but here goes anyway:
* USC vs. Oregon, at Galen Center, 6 p.m., ESPN
* UCLA vs. Oregon State, at Pauley Pavilion, 8 p.m., FS1
* USC vs. Oregon State, at Galen Center, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* UCLA vs. Oregon, at Pauley Pavilion, 7 p.m., ESPN2
In Southern California:
* Loyola Marymount (17-10, 5-8): At Pacific, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Pepperdine (12-15, 5–8): At Gonzaga, Thursday at 6 p.m., at Firestone Field House vs. Portland, Saturday at 5 p.m.
* Long Beach State (9-18, 3-8): vs. Cal State Northridge at Walter Pyramid, Wednesday at 7 p.m.; at UC Riverside, Saturday at 5 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge (10-16, 4-6): At Long Beach State, Wednesday at 7 p.m.; vs. UC Davis at the Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games of national interest:
Monday: Virginia at Virginia Tech, 4 p.m., ESPN; Illinois at Wisconsin, 5 p.m., FS1; Kansas State at West Virginia, 6 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday: Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPN; Purdue at Indiana, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Maryland at Iowa, 5 p.m., Big Ten Network; Kentucky at Missouri, 6 p.m., ESPN; Florida State at Clemson, 6 p.m., ESPNU; Baylor at Iowa State, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Wednesday: Rutgers at Michigan State, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network; Villanova at Georgetown, 3:30 p.m., FS1; Louisville at Syracuse, 4 p.m., ESPN; Florida at LSU, 4 p.m., ESPN2; North Carolina at Duke, 6 p.m., ESPN; Butler at Marquette, 6 p.m., CBSSN; St. John’s at Providence, 5:30 p.m., FS1; Stanford at Arizona State, 6 p.m., ESPN2; Colorado at Washington State, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network; Nevada at San Diego State, 8 p.m., CBSSN; Utah at Washington, 8 p.m.
Thursday: Michigan at Minnesota, 4 p.m., ESPN; Cal at Arizona, 6 p.m.
Friday: Kent State at Buffalo, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Indiana at Iowa, 6 p.m., FS1
Saturday: Tennessee at LSU, 9 a.m., ESPN; Virginia at Louisville, 9 a.m., ACC Network; Marquette at Providence, 9 a.m., Channel 11; Texas at Oklahoma, 9 a.m., ESPNU; Auburn at Kentucky, 10:30 a.m., Channel 2; Ohio State at Maryland, 11 a.m., ESPN; Florida State at North Carolina, 12:45 p.m., ESPN2; Purdue at Nebraska, 1 p.m., Big Ten Net; Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 1 p.m.; Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 1 p.m.; Duke at Syracuse, 3 p.m., ESPN; Harvard at Yale, 4 p.m.; Fresno State at Nevada, 5 p.m., CBSSN; Kansas at Texas Tech, 5 p.m., ESPN; Utah at Washington State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network; Seton Hall at St. John’s, 5 p.m., FS1; Wisconsin at Northwestern, 5:30 p.m., Big Ten Network; BYU at Gonzaga, 7 p.m., ESPN2; San Diego State at UNLV, 7 p.m., ESPNU; Colorado at Washington, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Sunday: Villanova at Xavier, 10:30 a.m., Channel 2; Cincinnati at UConn, 11 a.m., ESPN; Michigan State at Michigan, 12:45 p.m., Channel 2; Cal at Arizona State, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network; Stanford at Arizona, 5 p.m., ESPN2
With the NHL trade deadline a week away (Feb. 25), those still left playing for the Western Conference basement Kings and Ducks might be looking over their shoulders.
The defending champion Washington Capitals, who handed the Kings a 6-4 loss last week in D.C., stay in Southern California after playing the Ducks and make a visit to Staples Center.
The Kings this week:
* Vs. Washington, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
* At Nashville, Thursday at 5 p.m., NBCSN; at Florida, Saturday at 2 p.m., FSW
The Ducks this week:
* At Minnesota, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Calgary, Friday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Edmonton, Saturday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
Also this week: NHL Outdoor Game:
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia at Lincoln Field in Philadelphia, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 4
Major League Baseball teams are allowed to start full-squad workouts Monday. By the end of the week, the exhibition schedule starts in Florida and Arizona.
* Dodgers at Chicago White Sox, at Glendale, Ariz., Saturday at noon, SportsNet LA
* Dodgers vs. Angels, at Glendale, Ariz., Sunday at noon, SportsNet LA
* Angels vs. San Francisco, at Tempe, Ariz., Saturday at noon, Prime Ticket
* Angels vs. Cincinnati, at Tempe, Ariz., Sunday at noon, Fox Sports West
In college baseball:
* UCLA: vs. Loyola Marymount at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Georgia Tech, Friday at 1 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., Sunday at 10 a.m., ACC Network
* USC: vs. Arkansas at Dedeaux Field, Thursday at 7 p.m.; Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m.
* Long Beach State: vs. San Diego at Blair Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. Nevada at Blair Field, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge: vs. Kansas State at Matador Field, Monday at 2 p.m.; vs. Gonzaga at Matador Field, Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton: vs. Washington, Monday at 2 p.m.; at the Tony Gwynn Classic in San Diego: vs. Missouri State, Friday at 1 p.m., vs. Fresno State, Saturday at 1 p.m., vs. Oklahoma, Sunday at 10 a.m.
* Loyola Marymount: At UCLA, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At UC Riverside, Wednesday at 6 p.m., vs. St. Louis University at Page Stadium, Friday a and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at noon.
Pepperdine: At Vanderbilt, Friday at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11 a.m.
As the Professional Bull Riders’ circuit comes to Staples Center for the first time under the banner of “Unleash the Beast,” (Friday at 7:45 p.m., and Saturday at 6:45 p.m.), maybe you remember a commercial the organization ran during the recent Super Bowl under the tagline “Be Cowboy.” The point was to show how firefighters, teachers, mixed martial arts competitors and the like could be just as cowboy-up for something like bull riding as someone sporting a traditional Stetson and oversized belt buckles. That’s the exact stereotype they were trying to erase, actually. “It’s not the hats, it’s not the spurs, it’s not where you grew, what you chew, what you ride, what you drive,” the voiceover narration said. “Some say cowboys are a dying breed. We say we’ve never been more alive.” The PBR started the season in New York’s Madison Square Garden, and now they’re targeting Staples Center for their mix of extreme sports, music and rowdiness. And, of course, riding bulls, which also plans to attract activists such as a group called Last Chance for Animals, which appears to be planning a protest on Saturday. Their point: In addition to the treatment of the bulls, four riders have been killed in the last eight months— the most recent, a 25-year-old rider in Denver after a bull stomped on his chest.
* The Harlem Globetrotters finish a Southern California tour with performances at the Valley View Casino (Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.) and the Honda Center in Anaheim (Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.)
* The marquee pro golf event moves from Riviera to the Mexico City WGC championship, where Phil Mickelson has another title to defend (Thursday-Sunday)