What we suspect is happening as the Christmas Day “real” opening day for the NBA season nears, and TV networks are wondering why ratings aren’t lined up with last season as Anthony Davis has his first 50-point game for the Lakers:
== The Lakers and Clippers will be banished from Staples Center in late January because of the annual Grammy Awards. But this time of year, they’re also asked to leave behind their home court because of the “Disney On Ice” annual show – eight performances from Thursday to Sunday.
== Kawhi Leonard’s first return to Toronto after leading the Raptors to the NBA title happens Wednesday. His only season in Toronto was plenty: A career-best 26.6 points a game, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game, plus a Finals MVP award. And they’ll finally give him his championship ring. Against the Raptors at Staples Center earlier this year, during a 99-88 Clippers win, he had 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists despite shooting just 2-for-11 from the field and adding nine turnovers. It has been Leonard’s least-productive game of the season according to some statistically analytics.
== LeBron James’ (fill in a large number) return to Miami since leading the Heat to the 2012 and ’13 NBA title happens Sunday.
How the week unfolds for the Clippers (17-7, 10-2 in their last 12, 13-1 at home but 4-6 on the road that includes a recent 28-point loss in Milwaukee – whichkeeps the Bucks No. 1 in the latest ESPN Power Rankings):
= At Indiana, Monday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Toronto, Wednesday at 4 p.m. Prime Ticket, ESPN
= At Minnesota, Friday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Chicago, Saturday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
How the week unfolds for the Lakers (21-3, a league-best 11-1 on the road – including 11 in a row after losing the opener as the visiting team against the Clippers — and 14-1 in their last 15 games, still No. 2 in the Power Rankings):
= At Orlando, Wednesday at 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Miami, Friday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= At Atlanta, Sunday at 3 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How this week unfolds for Bronny James and Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth (7-0, ranked No. 3 nationally in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25):
= Vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary of Akron, Ohio, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN3 streaming online
What is becoming apparent heading into NFL Week 15:
== The 5-8 Chargers’ game against 9-4 Minnesota (Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Channel 2) was originally a Sunday night game that NBC decided to push back on and flexed it out. CBS has to take it, because it couldn’t pawn it off on Fox. Yes, the Chargers can help the Rams, and the city of L.A., with a victory here.
== The 8-5 Rams’ game at 6-7 and NFC East-leading Dallas (Sunday, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11) could have been flexed into that NBC Sunday night game, but it wasn’t. Fox wanted to keep it and draw upon all the drama left in these two nationally-prominent franchises.
Finishing Week 14:
= N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Moving into Week 15:
= N.Y. Jets at Baltimore, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window to start the network doubleheader: Chicago at Green Bay (picked over Tampa Bay at Detroit, Philadelphia at Washington and Seattle at Carolina)
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window (none available in L.A.): New England at Cincinnati, Houston at Tennessee, Denver at Kansas City, Miami at N.Y. Giants
= Also in the CBS 1:05 p.m. window (not in L.A.): Cleveland at Arizona
= Also in the Fox 1:25 p.m. window (not in L.A.): Atlanta at San Francisco
= Buffalo at Pittsburgh, Sunday at 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Monday, Dec. 16:
= Indianapolis at New Orleans, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
What we don’t pretend to have figured out at this part of the NHL season:
== The Kings’ 4-2 loss at Anaheim last week, just a link in their current 11-game road losing streak, was so notably tame that an Associated Press report of the contest started: “Something was missing from the first Freeway Faceoff of the season. Although the game had plenty of goals and a few big hits, this series’ usual pugnaciousness and belligerence was mostly nowhere to be seen.
“Anaheim Ducks coach Dallas Eakins even told his staff afterward: ‘Whoa, what a rivalry. There were six minutes in penalties’.”
So they play each other again. In Anaheim. Thursday, 7 p.m. The 146th regular-season meeting. It starts a six-game, 10-day road trip for the Kings.
How this rest of the week shapes up for the Kings (11-18-2, last in the Western Conference, losers of four in a row and 11 straight on the road):
= Vs. N.Y. Rangers, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Pittsburgh, Saturday at 4 p.m., FSW
= At Detroit, Sunday at 4 p.m., FSW
How the rest of the week shapes up for the Ducks (12-13-4, second-to-last in the Western Conference):
= At Minnesota, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. N.Y. Rangers, Honda Center in Anaheim, Saturday at 1 p.m.,
What could be more politically divisive than having something called the Presidents Cup take place right about now as a way of improving global relations? The U.S. has 10 wins, one loss and one draw in 12 of these so far.
Except the last loss was in Australia, in 1998, on this same Royal Melbourne Golf Club course they’ll meet up on again.
When Tiger Woods was appointed captain of the U.S. team back in March of 2018, he made a joke that he’d consider putting himself on the 12-man playing roster.
It got a good laugh.
Then he actually did it.
Because of that, we’re more apt to watch, no matter the impeachable time difference we’re having to deal with as it occurs down under.
A year removed from Woods playing for Team USA that lost 17 ½-to-10 ½ to the European squad at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France – Jim Furyk was the captain there – the 13th edition of the Presidents Cup —
the soon-to-be 44 year-old Woods is coming off playing in his own Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. That was the event he used to have back at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.
The American team built with the foundation of players with the most official FedEx Cup points between 2017-19 will have Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau at the core. Overall points leader Brooks Koepka had to bow out with a knee injury, and Jason Day is gone with a back injury, so the rest of the team is Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed.
And no Phil Mickelson?
“I haven’t done enough to warrant a pick,” the 49 year old said back in October who finished 47th in last season’s FedExCup.
Still, Mickelson has represented the United States in every team competition since the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994.
The heart of Ernie Els’ International team has local Aussies Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith, plus Japan’s Hideki Matsumama and South African Louis Oosthuizen. There are seven first-time players on that team.
What pairings will Wood employ?
The official website: https://www.presidentscup.com/
The TV schedule (all on Golf Channel):
Wednesday (Fourball): 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday (Foursomes): 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday (Fourball): noon to 11 p.m. (replay Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Channel 4)
Saturday final (12 singles matches): 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., closing ceremonies at 9 p.m. (replay Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Channel 4)
The last stop for the California High School State Football Championships is at Cerritos College. You’d think a St. John Bosco-Concord De La Salle contest could handle a bigger facility?
St. John Bosco defeated De La Salle for the 2013 and ’16 titles. St. John Bosco has made this state title game seven years in a row, winning three. De La Salle has lost three straight state titles after winning the North Coast Section for 28 seasons in a row and having a movie made about the program.
== Open Division: St. John Bosco (12-1) vs. Concord De La Salle (12-1), Saturday at 8 p.m., Spectrum News 1
= Division 1-AA championship, Friday at 8 p.m.: Sierra Canyon (14-1) vs. Fresno Central (14-0), Spectrum News 1
= Division 1-A championship, Saturday at 4 p.m.: Corona del Mar (15-0) vs. San Mateo Serra (13-1), Spectrum News 1
= Division 2-AA championship, Friday at 4 p.m.: Aquinas (13-2) vs. Concord Clayton Valley (9-5), Spectrum News 1
= Division 2-A championship, Saturday at noon: Oxnard Pacifica (14-1) vs. Oakland McClymonds (11-0), Spectrum News 1
= Division 5-A: Reseda (11-3) at Milpitas (8-6), Saturday at 6 p.m.
= Division 6-AA: South Torrance (11-4) vs. Eureka St. Bernard’s (11-3) at Humboldt State in Arcata, Saturday at 6 p.m.
= Division 7-AA: Gardena (11-4) vs. San Francisco Lincoln (11-2) at City College of San Francisco, Saturday at noon
== College football:
= The 120th Army vs. Navy game, at Philadelphia, Saturday, noon, Channel 2
= The Heisman Trophy presentation, Saturday at 5 p.m., ESPN (finalists are announced Monday).
== What we think as we slog through a very slow period in the college basketball season:
= The latest AP poll:
How the week plays out for UCLA (6-3):
= At Notre Dame, Saturday at noon, Channel 7
How the week plays out for USC (8-2):
= Vs. Long Beach State, Galen Center, Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (3-7):
= At USC, Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (2-8):
= Vs. North Dakota State, at the Matadome, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
= At Pacific, Sunday at 3 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (4-6):
= Vs. Central Arkansas, Firestone Fieldhouse, Saturday at 5 p.m.
How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (4-5):
= Vs. Prairie View A&M, Gersten Pavilion, Friday at 7 p.m.
Games of national interest this week include:
Northern Iowa at Colorado, 6 p.m. Pac-12 Net
Louisville vs. Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden, 3 p.m., ESPN
Indiana vs. UConn at Madison Square Garden, 6 p.m., ESPN
Maryland at Penn State, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Butler at Baylor, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Omaha at Arizona, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Prairie View A&M at Arizona State, 7 p.m. Pac-12 Net
Michigan at Illinois, 6 p.m. Big Ten Net
Eastern Kentucky at Louisville, 9 a.m., ACC Network
Oregon at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 2
Michigan at Oakland, 9 a.m., ESPN2
Syracuse at Georgetown, 10 a.m., Channel 11
Memphis at Tennessee, noon, ESPN
Seton Hall at Rutgers, 1 p.m., Big Ten Net
Weber State at Utah, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Georgia Tech at Kentucky, 2 p.m., ESPN
Utah State at BYU, 4 p.m.
Stanford at San Jose State, 4 p.m., ESPNU
Georgia at Arizona State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Gonzaga at Arizona, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Saint Mary’s at Cal, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net
UC Riverside at Washington State, 1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Wofford at North Carolina, 1 pm. ACC Net
South Carolina at Clemson, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Ohio State at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Net
Stanford at Hawaii, 6:30 p.m.