02.24.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

Before we get into the numbers, we start, and end, a week where the basketball world is trying to celebrate a person instead of grieve a loss:

== The Kobe Bryant public memorial from Staples Center — Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – will be produced by Spectrum News 1 and Lakers cable TV partner Spectrum SportsNet and air on both services (with repeats through the day).
We have heard it will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel with performances by Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera.
Others who have committed to airing the coverage (with how it is listed on their programming menu):
= KCBS-Channel 2: “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Giana Bryant” (with coverage starting at 9 a.m.)
= KTLA-Channel 5: “KTLA 5 News Special Edition: Kobe & Gianna Bryant Memorial” (with news coverage starting at 4 a.m.)
= KABC-Channel 7: “Eyewitness News Special Report: Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial)
= KCAL-Channel 9: “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant”
(with coverage starting at 9 a.m.)
= KTTV-Channel 11: “Kobe Memorial Service” (with “GoodDay LA starting at 4 a.m.)
= KEVA-Channel 52 Spanish: “Kobe Bryant Memorial Service”
= ESPN: “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant”
= NBA TV: “Kobe Bryant Memorial Service”
= CNN: “Kobe Bryant Memorial Service)
= E!: “E! News: Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant
= BET: “BET Remembers: Kobe Bryant”
= ESPN Deportes: “SportsCenter Especial”
Streaming will also be on LATimes.com, NBCNewsNOW.com, ETLive.com, Yahoo Sports and Facebook Watch. Radio coverage will be on the Lakers’ KSPN-AM (710) flagship station.

== A statue for Hank Gathers, the Loyola Marymount University star who died in 1990 during a conference playoff game at the age of 23, will be dedicated outside Gersten Pavilion on Saturday at 4 p.m. prior to the Lions’ final regular-season home game against San Francisco. It’s the 30th anniversary of LMU’s run to the Elite Eight in the weeks after Gathers’ death, collapsing on the court during the West Coast Conference tournament. Gersten Pavilion became known as “Hank’s House.” Former LMU coach Paul Westhead and members of the 1989-90 team will be on campus for the ceremony and game. The team will be recognized at center court at halftime.
The statue was created by the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany, which designed notable sports pieces including statues at the Staples Center and the Michael Jordan statue in Chicago. The Gathers family was invited to preview the statue in progress, and LMU captured his mother, Lucille, with her first impressions in this touching video. Donations are being accepted to help fund the statue, including the opportunity for donor’s names to be etched on the statue’s base.
For more information visit www.Hank44.lmu.edu

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NUMBER 1What we know about the NBA coming up:
== In case you weren’t aware of how it works, a New York Times sportswriter is explaining to us – well, we doubt L.A. is the main audience for this – what the Lakers and Clippers rivalry means these days.
OK, we’re good.

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (43-12, winners of five in a row, 5 1/2 games ahead of Denver and 6 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers in the Western Conference standings, with Memphis currently in the No. 8 position)
= Vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., TNT
= At Golden State, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
= At Memphis, Saturday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (37-19, losers of three in a row)
= Vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Phoenix, Wednesday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Denver, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN
= Vs. Philadelphia, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

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NUMBER 2What else we know about the college basketball season a week away from the post-season tournaments:
== A week where No. 1 Baylor (24-2, 13-1 Big 12) loses to No. 3 Kansas (24-3, 13-1), plus No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 4 San Diego State and No. 6 Duke also fall will shake itself out in the rankings that come out next on Monday morning.
== UCLA (17-11, 10-5) is figuring things out. The Bruins’ 70-63 come-from-behind triumph on national TV at No. 18 Colorado, their fifth victory in a row and ninth in the last 11, isn’t too little or too late with two more weeks to go before the Pac-12 Tournament comes up.
== USC (19-9, 8-7) failed twice in the last week to get its 20th win of the season and as a result keeps waffling in the middle of the Pac-12 standings, having been passed up by UCLA. USC is 0-4 now against AP Top 25 teams having lost to Colorado last week, but the Trojans are 11-2 at home when Arizona and Pac-12 leader ASU come up this week. Their last meetings: USC lost by five at Arizona and by two at ASU three weeks ago.

How the week plays out for UCLA (17-11, 10-5 in the Pac-12)
= Vs. Arizona State, Pauley Pavilion, Thursday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Vs. Arizona, Pauley Pavilion, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2
How the week plays out for USC (19-9, 8-7 in the Pac-12)
= Vs. Arizona, Galen Center, Thursday at 7 p.m., ESPN
= Vs. Arizona State, Galen Center, Saturday at 5 p.m., ESPN2/ESPNU

How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (11-17, 6-6 in the Big West)
= At Long Beach State, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= Vs. Cal State Fullerton, Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (10-18, 5-7 in the Big West)
= Vs. Cal State Northridge, Walter Pyramid, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= At UC Davis, Saturday at 7 p.m.

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (10-18, 4-10 in the West Coast Conference)
= Vs. University of the Pacific, Gersten Pavilion, Thursday at 7 p.m.
= Vs. University of San Francisco, Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 5 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (15-14, 8-7 in the West Coast Conference)
= Vs. BYU, Firestone Fieldhouse, Saturday at 3 p.m., CBSSN

Games of national interest this week include:
Monday
Louisville at Florida State, 4 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma State at Kansas, 6 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday
Dayton at George Mason, 4 p.m.
Duke at Wake Forest, 4 p.m., ACC Network
Kentucky at Texas A&M, 4 p.m., ESPN
Iowa at Michigan State, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Kansas State at Baylor, 5 p.m., ESPN+
Colorado State at San Diego State, 8 p.m., CBSSN
Wednesday
St. John’s at Villanova, 3 p.m., FS1
Georgetown at Marquette, 5:30 p.m., FS1
Utah at Stanford, 7 p.m.
Thursday
Colorado at Cal, 6 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Oregon State at Oregon, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Friday
Davidson at Dayton, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Washington State at Washington, 6 p.m., FS1
Saturday
Penn State at Iowa, 9 a.m., Big Ten Net
Providence at Villanova, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Kansas at Kansas State, 10:30 a.m., Channel 2
Baylor at TCU, 11 a.m.
Seton Hall at Marquette, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11
Auburn at Kentucky, 12:45 p.m., Channel 2
Duke at Virginia, 3 p.m., ESPN
Utah at Cal, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network
DePaul at Butler, 3:30 p.m., FS1
San Diego State at Nevada, 5 p.m.
Sunday
Creighton at St. John’s, 9 a.m. FS1
Xavier at Georgetown, 11 a.m., Channel 2
Michigan at Ohio State, 1 p.m., Channel 2
Colorado at Stanford, 3 p.m., ESPNU

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NUMBER 3The final race for Jimmie Johnson on his “home track” is how they’re framing the next NASCAR Auto Club 400 (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11), an event that was once 500 miles and held in February during the weekend after Daytona, but now a days tries to stay in its lane and survive at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
Johnson, the 44-year-old seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champ from El Cajon, pulls his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 onto the track for the last time before his “Celebrate 48” retirement tour (which, at Fontana, includes a bunch of $48 ticket specials). With more than 25 starts at Auto Club Speedway, Johnson has a record six wins, going back to 2002. His last trip to victory lane was in 2016. Add in there 13 top-five finishes and 17 top 10 finishes.
In the 2019 race, which was the fifth of the NASCAR slate, Kyle Bush brought his No. 18 Toyota from the No. 4 starting position to win all three stages for Joe Gibbs Racing, his 200th win across all three NASCAR national division.
No word yet if Ryan Newman will be pick this as the race for his return after his Daytona 500 accident.
The weekend schedule:
Friday: (Gates open at 11:30 a.m.) Cup practice, 1:05 p.m. to 1:55 p.m. and 2:35 p.m. to 3:25 p.m.; NXS practice, 12:05 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. and 2:02 p.m. to 2:27 p.m.
Saturday: (Gates open at 9:30 a.m.) Xfinity Series qualifying at 10:05 a.m., Xfinity Production Alliance Group 300 starts at 1 p.m.; Cup series qualifying at 11:35 a.m.
Sunday: (Gates open at 7 a.m.) Pre-race ceremonies at 11:50 a.m.; Auto Club 400 starts at 12:30 p.m.
More info: www.autoclubspeedway.com

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NUMBER 4The 25th Major League Soccer season, expanded to 26 teams with the addition of Miami and Nashville, starts on the last Saturday of February and runs through the first Sunday in October with LAFC and the Galaxy each getting 34 regular contests before the playoffs.
The Galaxy, opening at Houston (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Univision, Twitter, MLS Live on DAZN), is minus Zlatan Ibrahminvic (the 38-year-old can be found with Serie A club Milan) and plus Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (the 31-year-old striker from Guadalajara who is the all-time leading scorer in Mexican national team history) joining Jonathan dos Santos and Cristian Pavon.
LAFC, opening at Banc of California Stadium against David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF (Sunday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN), comes off winning the 2019 Supporters’ Shield with a single-season record of 72 points and tied for the most goals all time with 85. Their 21-4-9 record included 13-1-3 at home, but a 3-1 loss to eventual MLS champion Seattle in the Western Conference final at Banc of California Stadium on Oct. 29.
Also this week for LAFC: Leg 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League Tournament Round of 16 vs. vs. Club Leon of Mexico, at Banc of California Stadium, Thursday at 7 p.m., FS1. LAFC lost 2-0 in the first leg and needs to outscore Leon by three goals to advance to next month’s tournament quarterfinals.

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NUMBER 5The NHL trade deadline is Sunday at noon.
What more, or less, can the Kings do?

Also this week for the Kings (22-34-6, last in the Western Conference)
= Vs. Pittsburgh, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
= Vs. New Jersey, Staples Center, Saturday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Vegas, Sunday at 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
Also this week for the Ducks (24-30-7, next to last in the Western Conference)
= Vs. Edmonton, Honda Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Pittsburgh, Staples Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. New Jersey, Honda Center, Sunday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket

More

*Prior to the April 23 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, there are 337 invites to the NFL Scouting Combine at Indianapolis, which started Sunday and runs through Monday, March 2. The on-field workouts carried by the NFL Network include quarterbacks, tight ends and receiver (Thursday, 1-8 p.m.); running backs, offensive linemen, place kickers and special teams (Friday, 1-8 p.m.); defensive linemen and linebackers (Saturday, 1-8 p.m.), defensive backs (Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

*This week in college baseball:
How the week plays out for UCLA (7-0)
= Vs. Keio University, Jackie Robinson Stadium, Tuesday at 4 p.m. (exhibition)
= Vs. Pepperdine, Jackie Robinson Stadium Wednesday at 6 p.m.
At the Frisco College Classic in Frisco, Texas:
= Vs. Oklahoma State, Friday at 1 p.m.
= Vs. Texas A&M, Saturday at 4 p.m.
= Vs. Illinois, Sunday at 9 a.m.
How the week plays out for USC (3-2)
= At Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= Vs. Keio University, Dedeaux Field, Wednesday at 6 p.m. (exhibition)
= Vs. Seton Hall, Dedeaux Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (5-2)
= Vs. University of San Diego, Blair Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= Vs. Mississippi State, Blair Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m.
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (7-0)
= At University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.: Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Sunday at 10 a.m.
How the week plays out for Cal State Fullerton (3-3)
= Vs. USC, Goodwin Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= Vs. University of San Francisco, Goodwin Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (3-5)
= Vs. UC Santa Barbara, Page Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= At UC Davis, Friday at 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (7-0)
= At UCLA, Wednesday at 6 p.m.
= At Florida International in Miami: Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 9 a.m.

*U.S. Olympic trials for the marathon at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Saturday at 9 a.m., Channel 4

*The XFL Week 4:
L.A. Wildcats at N.Y. Guardians, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Saturday at 11 a.m., Channel 7
Also this weekend:
= Seattle at St. Louis, Saturday at 2 p.m., Channel 11
= Houston at Dallas, Sunday at 1 p.m., FS1
= D.C. at Tampa Bay, Sunday at 4 p.m., ESPN2

*Mater Dei (25-6) faces Sierra Canyon (27-4) in the CIF Southern Section Open Division boys basketball championship Friday at the Pyramid at Long Beach State at 8:30 p.m.
*Fairfax (26-4) faces Westchester (21-8) in the CIF L.A. City Section Open Division final Saturday at LA Southwest College at 7:30 p.m.

02.17.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we think we know about the NBA going into the final couple months of the regular season, now that All-Star Weekend has wrapped up and no one has to play a game again until Thursday at the earliest:
== The Lakers have 29 games left, the Clippers have 27, and the teams have to play each other twice more, once on Sunday March 8, and then figure out how to rescheduled the postponed game from Jan. 28.
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (41-21, still at No. 2 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Boston, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (37-18, still at No. 6 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2What we get a better sense about with the college basketball season two weeks away from March:
== Do we have to be aware of 23-2 Dayton? Obi Toppin’s team is one spot below 26-0 San Diego State in the latest AP Top 25, still trailing Baylor (23-1), Gonzaga (26-1) and Kansas (22-3). The Pac 12 is represented by Oregon (20-6), up three spots to No. 14; Colorado (20-6), down two spots to No. 18, and Arizona (18-7), up two spots to No. 24.
How the week plays out for USC (19-7, 8-5 in the Pac-12, and the No. 10 seed in the Midwest in the latest ESPN Bracketology)
= At Colorado, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2
= At Utah, Sunday at 3 p.m., ESPNU
How the week plays out for UCLA (15-11, 8-5, and not one of the six Pac-12 schools in the ESPN Bracketology)
= At Utah, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FS1
= At Colorado, Saturday at 1 p.m., Channel 2

How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (11-16, 6-5 and tied for second in the Big West)
= Vs. UC Irvine, Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (9-17, 4-6 in the Big West)
= At UC Irvine, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= Vs. Hawaii, Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN3

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (9-17, 3-9 in the West Coast Conference)
= At Saint Mary’s, Thursday at 8 p.m., CBSSN
= At Portland, Satrday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (14-13, 7-6 in the West Coast Conference)
= At Portland, Thursday at 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At San Francisco, Saturday at 3 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet Continue reading “02.17.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

02.10.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we surmised about the NBA grinds toward its All Star weekend — not the mid-season point, please — with more Kobe Bryant tributes with its new complicated reformat:
== TNT (Sunday, 6 p.m., in Chicago) again has Team LeBron facing Team Giannis again, which last year had the LeBrons posting a 178-164 win in Charlotte, N.C., and Kevin Durant was the MVP. This, after Team Giannis took at 53-37 lead in the first quarter.
This is the third time the league has diverted from an East-vs.-West format, yet Team James has a starting lineup of all West guys – including Lakers’ pal Anthony Davis, who he also picked first last year off the Pelicans roster, and Team Antetokounmpo is all East.
Why bother having a draft?
Team LeBron will all wear the No. 2 in honor of Gianna Bryant; Team Giannis will all wear No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant.
But seriously, this would be a more compelling watch if we had a Team USA against a World squad, especially in an Olympic year. It’s what they’re doing in the Friday Rising Stars Challenge.
Also: NBA Dunk Contest (Dwight Howard, Derrick Jones, Aaron Gordon and Pat Connaughton) and 3-point Shot Contest, Saturday, TNT, 5 p.m.; Rising Stars Challenge, Friday at 6 p.m., TNT

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (39-12, still No. 2 in Week 17 of the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Denver, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (37-16, revived with Marcus Morris, but temporarily dropping to a new low of No. 6 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= At Philadelphia, Tuesday at 4 p.m., TNT, Prime Ticket
= At Boston, Thursday at 5 p.m., TNT, Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2What we read about he PGA Tour’s one last loop of SoCal after checking in on Torrey Pines and Palm Desert:
== The new Tiger Woods-hosted event called the Genesis Invitational with a $9.3 million purse remains a tournament the host has never won.
It’s been suggested it would be appropriate if he did, for career Tour win No. 83, breaking the all-time record he shares currently with Sam Snead.
== J.B. Holmes won it last year at 14-under, one stroke better than Justin Thomas, with Rory McIlroy tied for fourth, Adam Scott dropping to a tie for seventh, Dustin Johnson tied for ninth and Tiger Woods falling to a tie for 15th after shooting 70-71-65-72.
== If form holds, Bubba Watson will win. He has captured this title in 2014 (269), 2016 (269) and 2018 (272). Continue reading “02.10.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

02.03.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1The ways we still struggle to move forward with the NBA, about 50 games done, some 30 more to go and the All Star Game weekend still in the distance:

== The trade deadline is noon Thursday.
If could trade everything that happened last week in the NBA for something different, we’d take it.
Now the reality is: The Lakers may have some holes they’d like to fill and some have been rumored to be offered as bait – Kyle Kuzman anyone? — but do they dare mess with roster chemistry in the way it has bonded since the death of Kobe Bryant? What are the Clippers searching for?
Which players are most likely to be dealt? Hard to say really. Many are trying hard to read between the lines.

== The latest odds by BetOnline.ag for the NBA champions has Milwaukee (3/1) a clear favorite over the No. 2 and 3 teams – the Lakers, at 7/2 and Clippers at 4/1. The defending champion Toronto Raptors – remember? – are 20/1. The defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors are 500/1. The New York Knicks (with Atlanta and Cleveland) are 1000/1.

== According to projections at FiveThirtyEight.com, seven teams have greater than a 99 percent chance or better to make the playoffs in the Western Conference: Lakers, Clippers, Utah, Dallas, Denver, Houston and Oklahoma City. The Lakers and Clippers are co-favorites to win the NBA title at 21 percent each (with Milwaukee at 19 percent).
In the West, only the No. 8 spot is open — the team that will go up against the Lakers or Clippers in the first round. Best percentages are on New Orleans (46 percent) over Portland (39 percent), two teams the Lakers would not be all that happy to see. So what does Memphis, San Antonio, Phoenix, Sacramento, Minnesota and Golden State have to look forward to?
In the East, six teams are better than 99 percent, with Orlando (94 percent) and New Jersey (86 percent) filling out the last two slots behind Milwaukee, Boston, Toronto, Miami, Philadelphia and Indiana. Chicago and Washington have a far outside shot, better than the less-than-one percent given to Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte, Cleveland or New York.
So why play the rest of the season past the Feb. 16 All-Star break?

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (31-11, 3 1/2 games up in the Western Conference, still No. 2 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings behind Milwaukee):
= Vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Houston, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= At Golden State, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Channel 7

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (34-15, second in the Western Conference, with Paul George back, but still No. 4 in the ESPN NBA Power rankings, with Toronto moving to No. 3) now that San Diego State has retired Kawhi Leonard’s jersey:
= Vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m. Prime Ticket
= Vs. Miami, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Minnesota, Saturday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Cleveland, Sunday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2
The latest we are trying to figure out about the college basketball season with March Madness just a month away:

== The latest AP Top 25 poll continues to give 19-1 Baylor (49 first place votes) a healthy push over 23-1 Gonzaga, which has LMU this week. San Diego State’s 23-0 mark remains fourth behind 18-3 Kansas.
The highest-ranked Pac-12 team, Oregon (18-5), dropped three spots to No. 14. Arizona (15-6), which has USC and UCLA this week, moved up three spots to No. 23, and Colorado (17-5) dropped four spots to No. 24 after a loss to UCLA. No other Pac-12 team received a vote.
== If you look at the NCAA Power 36, SDSU is No. 3, Oregon and Arizona are Nos. 17 and 18, and Colorado is 25.
== Sniffing around Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology on ESPN:  Oregon is a No. 3 seed, but in the South (where Baylor is No. 1), Arizona is a No. 7 seed in the Midwest (where Kansas is No. 1) and Colorado is a No. 6 seed and USC is a No. 8 seed in the West (where San Diego State is No. 1). Gonzaga’s top seed zigs the Zags over to the … East? He also has UC Irvine as the Big West rep, a No. 15 seed in the East served up to No. 2 Seton Hall.

How the week plays out for USC (17-5, 6-3 in the Pac-12, 0-2 against teams in the AP Top 25)
= At Arizona, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN2
= At Arizona State, Saturday at 7 p.m., FS1
How the week plays out for UCLA (12-10, 5-4 in the Pac-12, just 1 1/2 games out of the lead, and 1-2 against teams in the AP Top 25 coming off a win vs. Colorado)
= At Arizona State, Thursday at 8 p.m., ESPN2
= At Arizona, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN2

How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (9-15, 4-4 in the Big West)
= Vs. UC Riverside, Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (7-16, 2-5 in the Big West)
= At Cal Poly, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

How the week plays out for Pepperdine (12-11, 5-4 in the WCC, coming off a win at LMU last Saturday in OT)
= Vs. Santa Clara, Firestone Fieldhouse, Thursday at 7 p.m., WCC Network
= At Pacific, Saturday at 7 p.m., WCC Network
How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (8-15, 2-7 in the WCC coming off a loss to Pepperdine in OT last Saturday at home, 0-2 against the AP Top 25)

== At Gonzaga, Thursday at 8 p.m., CBSSN

Games of national interest this week include:
Monday
North Carolina at Florida State, 4 p.m., ESPN
Texas at Kansas, 6 p.m., ESPN
Baylor at Kansas State, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Tuesday
Duke at Boston College, 4 p.m., ESPN
Rutgers at Maryland, 4 p.m., FS1
Penn State at Michigan State, 5 p.m., Big Ten Net
Mississippi State at Kentucky, 6 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday
Villanova at Butler, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Seton Hall at Georgetown, 5:30 p.m., FS1
Wake Forest at Louisville, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Thursday
Cal at Colorado, 5 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Stanford at Utah, 7 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Friday
Harvard at Yale, 2 p.m., ESPNU
Maryland at Illinois, 5 p.m., FS1
Saturday
Kansas at TCU, 9 a.m., FS1
Miami at Florida State, 9 a.m., ACC Net
Michigan State at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 11
LSU at Auburn, 9 a.m.
DePaul at Georgetown, 9 a.m.
Kentucky at Tennessee, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Seton Hall at Villanova, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11
Virginia at Louisville, 1 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 3 p.m., ESPN2
Duke at North Carolina, 3 p.m., ESPN
Stanford at Colorado, 3 p.m., Pac 12 Net
San Diego State at Air Force, 5 p.m., CBSSN
Cal at Utah, 5 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, 7 p.m.
Oregon at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Sunday
Butler at Marquette, 9 a.m., FS1
Ohio State at Wisconsin, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Cincinnati at UConn, 9 a.m., CBSSN
Wichita State at Houston, noon, ESPN
Notre Dame at Clemson, 3 p.m., ACC Network
Washington at Washington State, 3 p.m., ESPNU
Northwestern at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Net

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NUMBER 3What we know about the NHL and the brutal week ahead for the Kings and Ducks away from home:
== Alex Ovechkin has passed Mark Messier for No. 8 on the career goals list with 695. Could he reach the 700 mark in Tuesday’s game against the Kings at home?
“Eight is a good number,” the Capitals captain said after Friday’s accomplishment, since he wears No. 8, and recently changed it to wear  No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant. “I would say it’s nice to be in good company. There are a lot of legends up there.”
In the Caps’ 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet, staying at 37 goals for the season. That game marked the 50th meeting between Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. The Pens have won 31 of the 50 Crosby versus Ovechkin games dating to their NHL debuts during the 2005-06 season.

How the week lays out for the Kings (19-29-5, last in the Western Conference after a loss to the Ducks at home)
= At Washington, Tuesday at 4 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At N.Y. Islanders, Thursday at 4 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At New Jersey, Saturday at 4 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At N.Y. Rangers, Sunday at 3 p.m., Fox Sports West

Also this week for the Ducks (21-26-6, next to last in the Western Conference)
= At Ottawa, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Montreal, Thursday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Toronto, Friday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Buffalo, Sunday at noon, Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 4Welcome again to the XFL.
Ahem…
L.A. has been waiting 19 years to defend its one and only XFL championship. Sorry, Chiefs, but this wait has seemed more than just a half century.
The new post-NFL eight-team league starts Saturday and Sunday. It runs 10 weeks until April 12. Playoffs (April 18-19) lead to a title game on Sunday, April 26 on ESPN.
Then, we rest.
Your Los Angeles Wildcats – and if you ask us to identify any one of them, including the coach, you’ll get a blank stare – starts the season at Houston, 2 p.m. on Channel 11, with Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt.
OK, so we know Norm Chow is the offensive coordinator. Former USC receiver De’Quan Hampton is listed on the roster.
The hook: New rules tested out. Like the “Double Pass” – a team can complete a pass behind the line of scrimmage and then throw a second forward pass as long as they haven’t crossed the line of scrimmage. The NFL and college only allow one forward pass per play. What does it matter? It’s less risky. If the first pass is incomplete, it’s not a fumbled lateral.

Also:
Seattle at D.C, Saturday at 11 a.m., Channel 7 (Steve Levy and Greg McElroy)
Tampa Bay at New York, Sunday at 11 a.m., Channel 11 (Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen)
St. Louis at Dallas, Sunday at 2 p.m., ESPN (Tom Hart, Joey Galloway and Pat McAfee)

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NUMBER 5Pro Bull Riding returns to Staples Center (Friday at 7:45 p.m. and Saturday at 6:45 p.m.), the day after a Lakers-Rockets game and two days before it needs to go back to basketball.
What do we know about the PBR?
Not a heck of a lot except … Who are we kidding? There was a great interview that Jim Gaffigan did with Stephen Colbert the other night, talking about how he had to do a comedy show at a pro bull riding event in San Antonio recently.

More

= The PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel and Channel 2, noon to 3 p.m. each day) is the next-to-last West Coast swing stop before Riviera.

== The CONCACAF Women’s Olympic qualifiers happen at Dignity Heath Sports Park in Carson with semifinals on Friday starting at 4 p.m. (Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up and Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up, with the U.S. playing in Group A and Canada and Mexico in Group B). The U.S. game airs at 7 p.m. on FS1. Then, the final on Sunday at 3 p.m. on FS2 (bumped there from FS1 because of NHRA).

01.27.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we know about today’s NBA:
== The third Lakers-Clippers regular-season meeting set for Tuesday at Staples Center, a TNT game for 7 p.m., has now been postponed.

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (36-10, still No. 2 in the Week 15 ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Portland, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= At Sacramento, Saturday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (33-14, down from No. 3 to No. 4 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= Vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2What we surmise will be noteworthy about the 54th Super Bowl between San Francisco and Kansas City that lands in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday – 3:15 p.m., Channel 11:
== It’s been 10 years since an NFL title game was in this part of town, but the city has the game for the 11th time, the most of any place in the country, as it returns not to the old Orange Bowl but the revamped Hard Rock Stadium.

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NUMBER 3The latest we seem to know about the college basketball season:
== The top seven teams in the AP Top 25 poll remained the same — Baylor (17-1), Gonzaga (21-1), Kansas (16-3), San Diego State (21-0), Florida State (17-2), Louisville (17-3) and Dayton (18-2). The Pac-12 has Oregon (17-4) up one spot to No. 11 after an overtime win over USC and easy triumph over UCLA. Colorado (16-4) is up three spots to No. 20. That’s it.

How the week plays out for USC (16-4, 5-2 in the Pac-12, a half-game behind Oregon for the lead)
= Vs. Utah, Galen Center, Thursday at 6:30 p.m., FS1
= Vs. Colorado, Galen Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., FS1
How the week plays out for UCLA (10-10, 3-4 in the Pac-12)
= Vs. Colorado, Pauley Pavilion, Thursday at 8 p.m., ESPN2
= Vs. Utah, Pauley Pavilion, Sunday at noon, FS1

How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (8-14, 3-3 Big West)
= Vs. UC Santa Barbara, the Matadome, Thursday at 8 p.m., ESPNU
= At Hawaii, Saturday at 10 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (7-14, 2-3 Big West)
= At UC Riverside, Thursday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= Vs. UC Santa Barbara, Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN3

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (8-13, 2-5 in the WCC)
= At Pacific, Thursday at 7 p.m.
= Vs. Pepperdine, Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 3 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (11-10, 4-3 in the WCC)
= At BYU, Thursday at 5:30 p.m., CBSSN
= At Loyola Marymount, Saturday at 3 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

Games of national interest this week include:
Monday
North Carolina at North Carolina State, 4 p.m., ESPN
Kansas at Oklahoma State, 6 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday
Villanova at St. John’s, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Florida State at Virginia, 4 p.m., ESPN
Pittsburgh at Duke, 6 p.m., ESPN
Butler at Georgetown, 6 p.m., CBSSN
Wednesday
DePaul at Seton Hall, 3:30 p.m., FS1
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 3:30 p.m., SEC Network
Dayton at Duquesne, 4 p.m., CBSSN
West Virginia at Texas Tech, 5 p.m., ESPN+
Baylor at Iowa State, 6 p.m., ESPNU
San Diego State at New Mexico, 6 p.m., CBSSN
Louisville at Boston College, 6 p.m., ACC Net
Arizona State at Washington State, 8 p.m., ESPNU
Thursday
Iowa at Maryland, 5:30 p.m., Big Ten Net
Oregon at Cal, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Arizona at Washington, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN
Oregon State at Stanford, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Saturday
Xavier at Seton Hall, 8 a.m., Channel 11
Creighton at Villanova, 9 a.m., FS1
UConn at Memphis, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Michigan State at Wisconsin, 10 a.m., Channel 11
Louisville at North Carolina State, 11 a.m.
Providence at Butler, 11 a.m., FS1
TCU at Baylor, 1 p.m., ESPN2
Texas Tech at Kansas, 1 p.m., ESPN
Oregon State at Cal, 1 p.m. Pac-12 Net
Oregon at Stanford, 3 p.m. Pac-12 Net
Kentucky at Auburn, 3 p.m., ESPN
Duke at Syracuse, 5 p.m., ESPN
Arizona at Washington State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Utah State at San Diego State, 7 p.m., CBSSN
Arizona State at Washington, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Sunday
Illinois at Iowa, 10 a.m. FS1
Georgetown at St. John’s, 10 a.m., Channel 2

Bill Walton’s schedule this week:
= Arizona at Washington, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN
= Arizona State at Washington, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

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NUMBER 4What we know about the NHL beyond the All-Star Game weekend:
== The third annual “Hockey Day SoCal” happens Saturday – an event sponsored by Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket and Fox Sports San Diego. Capped off by the Kings-Ducks game from Staples Center (7:30 p.m., FSW, Prime Ticket), it also includes the team’s American Hockey League affiliates facing off at 4 p.m. – Ontario at San Diego – on all three channels. The studio show emanates from the Great Park Ice rink in Irvine at 2 p.m.

Also this week for the Kings (18-27-5, last in the Western Conference with 41 points)
= Vs. Tampa Bay, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., NBCSN
= At Arizona, Thursday at 6:30 p.m., FSW
Also this week for the Ducks (19-24-5, next to last in the Western Conference with 43 points)
= At San Jose, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Arizona, Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Tampa Bay, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 5The conclusion of the Australian Open sees the men’s side with defending champ Novak Djokovic “cruising through with little fuss and almost no hype” as he has Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals next. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer remain alive. Dojkovic and Federer are lined up for the semifinals. Women’s top seed Ashley Barty is into the quarterfinals with 10 of the next 13 seeds already gone, including Serena Williams.
The TV schedule:
Women’s championship: Saturday at 5 a.m., ESPN2
Men’s championship: Sunday at 5 a.m., ESPN2
Men’s semifinals: Thursday at 12:30 a.m., ESPN and Friday at 12:30 a.m., ESPN
Women’s semifinals: Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN2

01.20.20: Five things for the week ahead and, in the words of MLK: We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

NUMBER 1What we know about today’s NBA on MLK Day and beyond:
== If things fall as they seem they might, LeBron James will pass Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list by the end of this week.
As the L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke wrote Monday:
A man wearing a Lakers jersey will pass Kobe Bryant on the all-time scoring list. James will officially plant his purple and gold flag by scoring his 33,644th point, moving him past Bryant and into third place on the scoring list.
At which point, all Laker hell will break loose.
Said Bryant, who is 81 points ahead of James at the moment:
“When LeBron came to Los Angeles, he is now a Laker, he is part of our brotherhood, part of our fraternity, and we should embrace him that way,” he said.
Kind of seems like the appro response for an MLK Day story?

== The annual MLK Day slate involves 28 of the 30 teams, including the Lakers. The only two not asked to play on the holiday (including the Clippers) go Tuesday instead. The TNT schedule Monday includes New Orleans at Memphis (2 p.m.) and Golden State at Portland (7 p.m.)
== Sunday’s Grammy Awards at Staples Center keeps the Lakers and Clipper on the road.
== Anthony Davis is supposed to be ready to come back.
== Kawhi Leonard is the Western Conference Player of the Week (Jan. 13-19) after the Clippers went 3-0 last week and he averaged 38 points, 5 assists and 4.7 rebounds.
== The anticipation of Zion Williamson’s first NBA game Wednesday has caused ESPN to alter its schedule.
== The NBA plants its first regular-season game in Paris: Charlotte vs. Milwaukee, Friday at noon, NBA TV.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers (34-8, still No. 2 behind Milwaukee in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= At Boston, Monday at 4:30 p.m., TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
= At New York, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Brooklyn, Thursday at 5 p.m., TNT, Spectrum SportsNet
= At Philadelphia, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Channel 7

How the week unfolds for the Clippers (30-13, up from No. 5 to No. 3 in the NBA Power Rankings with Paul George close to returning)
= At Dallas, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Atlanta, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Miami, Friday at 5 p.m., ESPN, Prime Ticket
= At Orlando, Sunday at 3 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2The latest we seem to know about the college basketball season:
== Baylor (15-1) remains atop the ESPN College Basketball Power Rankings, which came out before the AP Top 25 poll also raised the Bears into the No. 1 spot, for the first time. That means seven teams have been at the top position this season.
The last undefeated major team, San Diego State (19-0), is No. 3 in the power rankings and No. 4 in the AP Top 25. Gonzaga (20-1) fell to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 through no fault of its own.
Oregon (15-4) dropped from No. 8 to No. 13 in the power rankings and to No. 12 in the Top 25 after losing a head-scratcher at Washington State. The Ducks host USC and UCLA this week. The only other Pac 12 schools in the Top 25 are Arizona (13-5, at No. 22, up four spots) and Colorado (14-4, at No. 23, down three spots). USC received four total votes, behind Stanford’s 28 votes.

How the week plays out for USC (15-3, 4-1 and tied with Stanford for the lead in the Pac-12, the team it just defeated in OT)
= At Oregon, Thursday at 8 p.m., ESPNU
= At Oregon State, Saturday at 2 p.m., Pac 12 Network
How the week plays out for UCLA (9-9, 2-3 and just 1-2 on the road)
= At Oregon State, Thursday at 8 p.m., FS1
= At Oregon, Sunday at 2 p.m., Channel 11

How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (7-13, 2-2 and 5-3 at home as the Matadors are only 2 1/2 games out of first in the Big West)
= At UC Santa Barbara, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
= At Cal State Fullerton, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (6-14, 1-3 and 1-8 on the road, sitting last in the Big West)
= Vs. UC Irvine, Walter Pyramid, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (7-12, 1-4 in the West Coast Conference)
= Vs. Portland, Gersten Pavilion, Thursday at 7 p.m.
= Vs. Saint Mary’s, Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 6 p.m.
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (9-10, 2-3 in the WCC)
= At Santa Clara, Thursday at 7 p.m.
= Vs. Portland, Firestone Fieldhouse, Saturday at 5 p.m.

Games of national interest this week include:
Monday
Oklahoma at Baylor, 6 p.m., ESPN
Tuesday
Butler at Villanova, 4 p.m., CBSSN
Wyoming at San Diego State, 8 p.m., CBSSN
Thursday
Washington at Utah, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Washington State at Colorado, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Michigan State at Indiana, 5 p.m., FS1
Friday
Marquette at Butler, 6 p.m., FS1
Saturday
Illinois at Michigan, 9 a.m., FS1
Villanova at Providence, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Kentucky at Texas Tech, 3 p.m., ESPN
Washington at Colorado, 6 p.m.
Arizona at Arizona State, 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Pacific at Gonzaga, 7 p.m.
Sunday
Maryland at Indiana, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Michigan State at Minnesota, noon, Channel 11
San Diego State at UNLV, 1 p.m., CBSSN
Stanford at Cal, 3 p.m., ESPNU

Bill Walton’s schedule this week:
= Washington at Utah, Thursday at 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Arizona at Arizona State, Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

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NUMBER 3What we know about the PGA Tour at this point, having seen it leave the Palm Spring Desert and head south
== The Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines north of San Diego is the place where CBS starts its 2020 season, with a bunch of new folks in place. It’s also where Tiger Woods begins his 2020 campaign, just a few months removed as the playing captain of the Presidents’ Cup win in Australia and capturing his PGA Tour-tying 82nd career win in China last October. Continue reading “01.20.20: Five things for the week ahead and, in the words of MLK: We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

01.13.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we know about the next phase of the “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” Tournament:
== As any network exec will tell you, especially in the sports realm, all they root for it as many shows/games as possible. Ken Jennings has put himself just one hour-long show away from taking the $1 million prize. If Jennings can just coast a little, Brad Rutter can get some things breaking his way on all-in “Daily Double” answers and James Holzhauer keeps the heat on, this could push its way to a seventh-match crescendo on Friday that would rival any major sporting event from viewership numbers – and the event has already been pre-taped.
Game shows aren’t rigged, right? They can’t just figure out the best way to please everyone, tank a little, fix Rutter’s ship and get this whole thing to replay somewhere on ESPN opposite the NFL divisional championships on Sunday.
What is … Mission Not Impossible?
The schedule:
= Tuesday at 8 p.m., Channel 7
= If necessary: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Channel 7

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NUMBER 2What we have come to realize about the conclusion of the college football season that started in one decade and went into another — just 16 days, but it seems an eternity:
== This honored match up of 14-0/No. 1 LSU and 14-0/No. 3 Clemson (Monday, ESPN, 5 p.m., with 14 other options on the MegaCast) leans toward a victory by the Tigers.
Of course, both schools have that same nickname. And both lay some claim to play their games in Death Valley, which is no where near the actual Death Valley that gamblers must traverse through on their way from L.A. to Las Vegas.
Also:
= NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Saturday at 4 p.m., NFL Network. In the 2019 game, Slippery Rock running back Wes Hills ended up as the MVP. More info: collegiate.nflpa.com
= East-West Shrine Bowl at St. Petersburg, Fla., Saturday at 12:30 p.m.,  NFL Network

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NUMBER 3Where we stand on the Lakers and Clippers Happy Meal status:
== The Lakers have promoted Rob Pelinka as their Mr. Everything in the absence of Magic Johnson. And he still hasn’t traded away Kyle Kuzma. Probably for the better.
== Before the Lakers and Clippers start their Get Out of Staples Center Tour to allow those setting up the Jan. 26 Grammy Awards to have an ample runway, Cleveland and Orlando come in for a shared two-for-one trip. And maybe Kevin Love gets some love. Maybe Cleveland fires its coach.
== ABC is ready to pick up their first two roadies on Saturday – the Clippers in New Orleans, followed by the Lakers in Houston. The extended trips for both teams will end when the Lakers and Clippers meet up at Staples Center on Tuesday, Jan. 28, for a TNT showdown. Continue reading “01.13.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”