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:
== 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.
== 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 anticipation of Zion Williamson’s first NBA game Wednesday has caused ESPN to alter its schedule.

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 after a 3-0 week and 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, with undefeated San Diego State (19-0) at No. 3, behind Gonzaga, which remains on top of the AP Top 25.
Oregon dropped from No. 8 to No. 13 in the power rankings after losing a head-scratcher at Washington State. The Ducks host USC and UCLA this week.

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”

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

NUMBER 1Superseding all other scheduled sports-related games, matches or friendlies:
The three most financially successful players in “Jeopardy!” history – Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer — have a prime-time special, “The Greatest of All Time,” that Alex Trebek will orchestrate. The plan is for two back-to-back 30 minute games each night, starting Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 7. First to win three matches takes a $1 million prize. The TV menu has dates and times set for Wednesday and Thursday also this week, but it could go all the way to Jan. 16 if needed.
Rutter has the all-time record for money earned: $4.6 million, and his only loss is during a game against Jennings and supercomputer Watson in 2011. His team also won the 2019 All-Star tournament. Jennings, famous for his 74-win record run, has banked $3.4 million. Vegas sports gambler Holtzhauer had the uber-stragetic 32-episode streak that included the most cash ever won on a single episode — $131,127– and he holds all the top 10 single-game winning record. He came up just $58,000 short of surpassing Jennings in total winnings.
But money isn’t important here. It’s a “Jeopardy!” legacy. Don’t jeopardize any of that at this point. If only Art Fleming could ever see this.

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NUMBER 2What we know about today’s NBA with an All-Star game already looming and fans pushing votes for Tacko Fall and Alex Caruso:
== Anyone trying to block the Lakers’ chances of climbing back to the No. 2 spot in the ESPN Power Rankings (after spending Week 11 at No. 4) will be unsuccessful. They’ve won five in a row (Portland, Dallas, Phoenix, New Orleans and Detroit) after losing four in a row (Clippers, Denver, Milwaukee and Indiana).
== The Clippers’ miserable Saturday afternoon loss to Memphis, followed up by another early wake-up call against the Knicks that somehow turned victorious, drops them from No. 3 to No. 4 in the same power rankings. Blame it on team load management. Why waste all your energy this early?
== ESPN announced last week it took away a previously scheduled Friday night look at the Clippers taking on Golden State and instead subbed in the Lakers’ game at Dallas, the third time the network has had that matchup already this season.

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (29-7, 4 games up on the Clippers and 4 ½ games up over Denver and Houston in the Western Conference)
= Vs. New York, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Dallas, Friday at 5:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= At Oklahoma City, Saturday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (26-12)
= Vs. Golden State, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Denver, Sunday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket Continue reading “01.06.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

12.30.19: Five things for the week (and decade) ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we know about today’s NBA heading into the next decade, and what LeBron James might bring to it:
== He was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Decade late last week. This was not his decision, but The Decision came into play. Almost all those years in the 2010s were not in L.A., but L.A. has a strong pull on him with his outside interests.
== He has reached 9,000 career assists, the ninth in NBA history to achieve that milestone, accomplished in Sunday night’s win over Dallas. He should pass Isiah Thomas for No. 8 on the all-time list by the All-Star break. By which point, he could also be passing Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the all-time scoring list, and could be passing Allen Iverson for No. 13 in the all-time steals list.

== He’s still dealing with a right groin issue and is day-to-day. As we all are.
== He’s old. He turned 35 on Dec. 30. That means nearly half his life has been in the NBA. Wikipedia confirms this. He has confirmed there’s no party:

== His son continues to grab headlines. Bronny’s Sierra Canyon High team faces Rancho Christian in the title game of the Damien Classic – Monday, 8:30 p.m., FoxSportsWest Prep Zone streaming (following the third-place game between Etiwanda and St. John Bosco). Christian Miles and Kris Johnson will call both games with Rahshaun Haylock on the sidelines. More info: www.foxsports.com/west/prep-zone-stream

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (26-7, falling to No. 4 from No. 2 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings after righting a four-game losing streak with two wins in the last three days)
= Vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, New Year’s Day Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= Vs. Detroit, Staples Center, Sunday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (23-11, still No. 3 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings despite trailing the Lakers by 3 1/2 games in the Pacific Division)
= At Sacramento, New Year’s Eve Tuesday, 2 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Detroit, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. New York, Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2The matchup of Pac-12 champion and sixth-ranked Oregon (11-2) and Big Ten runner-up and eighth-ranked Wisconsin (10-3) the 106th edition of the Pasadena’s finest Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, sure, it ain’t what it used to be.
But it’s what we can cling to like an antique vase during an earthquake, and make sure our insurance premiums are paid up, as the actual college football bowl season has to wait more than two week before getting to the Jan. 13 national championship game in New Orleans between Clemson and LSU.
Until then, we dance with these dates during other various exhibitions: Continue reading “12.30.19: Five things for the week (and decade) ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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

NUMBER 1There’s the real meaning of Christmas, and then the one that the NBA and its TV partners wants to believe is true — and it has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Shuttlesworth or God Shammgod.
== ESPN, in promoting its five-game schedule for Wednesday’s holiday and focused on the simulcast with ABC for the Lakers-Clippers Part II of the 2019-20 regular season (with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, 5 p.m., Staples Center), has a “Christmasketball” campaign with singer John Legend. You’ve likely smelled it from afar, like chestnuts roasting on a gas-log fire. Don’t try to pronounce “Christmasketball.” It’s not a real word nor should it be attempted.

== As part of the newest Lakers-Clippers rivalry dynamic, there’s been some who’ve tried to blow up a Doc Rivers quote about LeBron James. We’ll give you the story here and let you decide.
== Will LeBron James need time off Wednesday to rest himself or can he rescue the team from its horrifying three-game losing streak?
== Since 2009, only five teams with a winning percentage under .406 on Christmas Day went on to make the playoffs, according to a story in Ozy.com entitled:  “Merry Christmas: We Can Already Rule Out a Third of the NBA,” says this story from Ozy.com.
== The rest of the Christmas Day NBA schedule:
= Boston vs. Toronto, 9 a.m., ESPN (Adam Amin, Richard Jefferson)
= Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia, 11:30 a.m., Channel 7 (Dave Pasch, Doris Burke)
= Houston vs. Golden State, 2 p.m., Channel 7 (Mark Jones, Hubie Brown)
= New Orleans vs. Denver, 7:30 p.m., ESPN (Ryan Ruocco, Chauncey Billups)

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (24-6, still No. 2 behind 27-4 Milwaukee in the ESPN Power Rankings)
= At Portland, Saturday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Dallas, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (22-10, No. 3 in the Power Rankings)
= vs. Utah, Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2The college football bowl season finally has its undisputed national championship Final Four pairings for Saturday:
= Peach Bowl in Atlanta: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma, 1 p.m., ESPN (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge)
= Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson, 5 p.m., ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit)
== We’re also able to add 8-4 USC into the Chex mix – vs. 9-3 Iowa in San Diego’s Holiday Bowl (Friday, 5 p.m., FS1, with Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt), which is actually the first match up this bowl season of College Football Playoff Top 25 teams, and it’s not on ESPN.
We’ll let you research how the Trojans and Hawkeyes are actually ranked when measured up against the rest in a process that really is supposed to just figure out the Top 4 choices.
Otherwise, here’s the rest of this tossed salad:
Monday:
= Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Fla.: Central Florida vs. Marshall, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
Tuesday:
= Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu: Hawaii vs. BYU, 5 p.m., ESPN
No games Wednesday
Thursday:
= Independence Bowl at Shreveport, Louisiana: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN
= Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit: Pittsburgh vs. Eastern Michigan, 5 p.m., ESPN
Friday:
= Military Bowl in Annapolis, MD: North Carolina vs. Temple, 9 a.m., ESPN
= Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in N.Y.: Michigan State vs. Wake Forest, 12:20 p.m., ESPN
= Texas Bowl in Houston: No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M, 3:25 p.m., ESPN
= Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix: Air Force vs. Washington State, 7:15 p.m., ESPN
Saturday:
= Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Tex.: No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 16 Memphis, 9 a.m., ESPN
= Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla.: No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State, 9 a.m., Channel 7

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NUMBER 3Based on the painfully obvious, and our ability to break down all the scenarios that others tell us are still in play,  what we can finally summarize to the end of the NFL season with Week 17:
== The 8-7 Rams have their last game at the Coliseum, a Sunday 1:25 p.m. affair against Arizona on Channel 11. With no playoff shot to follow up last year’s run to the Super Bowl, might as well get all the tears out now. Fox sends out Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin to a game only going to 7 percent of the national market (74 percent see Washington-Dallas with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for some reason).
== The 5-10 Chargers’ last contest in Kansas City (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 2) could have been something special when the schedule came out. Now … Philip Rivers’ final game? After 224 consecutive regular season starts? CBS dispatches Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon and John Schriffen.
== How do the 7-8 Oakland-to-be-Vegas Raiders still have the gumption to get into the playoffs? Win their final game at Denver, then get wins by already No. 1 AFC seed Baltimore against Pittsburgh, playoff-bound Houston over Tennessee and Indianapolis over Jacksonville. All those games are now aligned in the afternoon CBS window. Then, the Raiders apparently also need a victory by one of the following teams: Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City (over the Chargers) or New England. ESPN’s FPI gives it all a 12.5 percent chance of happening.
== When the NFL season started, BetOnline.ag had the over/under on the Rams’ regular season win total at 10 1/2, and the Chargers at 10. And the Raiders at 6. You do the math.

Finishing Week 16:
= Green Bay at Minnesota, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Moving into Week 17:
All games on Sunday:
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window to start the network doubleheader: Chicago at Minnesota (instead of Green Bay at Detroit, Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, New Orleans at Carolina and Cleveland at Cincinnati, the later moved over from CBS)
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window (not available in L.A.): Miami at New England, N.Y. Jets at Buffalo
= In the CBS 1:25 p.m. window: Oakland at Denver (along with Pittsburgh at Baltimore, Indianapolis at Jacksonville, and Tennessee at Houston)
= The new Fox 1:25 p.m. window (not available in L.A.): Washington at Dallas, Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants.
== San Francisco at Seattle, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4 (last game of the regular season)

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NUMBER 4Why the college basketball season seems to be making news on a weekly basis but things really don’t start to make sense until the calendar turns:
== After No. 1 Kansas’ loss to Villanova on Saturday, the rise of 13-1 Gonzaga to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 marks the sixth new team in the top spot since Michigan State was there in the preseason then lost its first game. Kentucky, Duke and Louisville have also come and gone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the five losses by an AP No. 1 team is the most such losses in a single season in the poll era. The single-season record for most No. 1 teams since the poll debuted in 1948-49 is seven, which happened in 1982-83.
By the way: Pepperdine starts the West Coast Conference schedule at Gonzaga on Jan. 4.
Yes, the Zags, who have defeated Top 25 teams Oregon, Arizona and Washington from the Pac-12, as well as North Carolina, with their only loss to Michigan, should be favored to win every one of its last 17 games to have 30 wins going into the WCC Tournament in March.
== The Pac-12 additions and subtractions to the current AP Top 25: 10-2 Oregon is up two spots to No. 6, 9-2 Washington is up one spot to No. 21, 10-3 Arizona is down eight spots to No. 24, and 10-2 Colorado is in the No. 27 spot if that one really existed.
== The last non-conference games for 10-2 USC and 7-5 UCLA happen this week as the Pac 12 launches in Washington for both of them on Jan. 2. The Trojans’ matchup with coach Andy Enfield’s former program (currently 3-11, 0-6 on the road) seems kind of cool. The Bruins’ ability to allow the Titans of Fullerton (3-10, 1-5 on the road) into their arena would seem to be a safe bet as well.
== For those intent on paying attention to rivalry games, the women’s side has 8-3 USC facing No. 10 and 11-0 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday (1 p.m. Pac 12 Network). Four Pac-12 teams are in the women’s Top 10, with Oregon and Stanford having the No. 1 spots at some point.

How the week plays out for USC (10-2, 5-1 at home)
= vs. Florida Gulf Coast, Galen Center, Sunday at 7 p.m., Pac 12 Network
How the week plays out for UCLA (7-5, 6-1 at home)
= vs. Cal State Fullerton, Pauley Pavilion, Saturday at 2 p.m., Pac 12 Network (with Bill Walton)

How the week plays out for Long Beach State (4-9, 0-5 on the road)
= At Seattle, Monday at 3 p.m.
= At Florida, Saturday at 9 a.m., SEC Network
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (3-10, 1-7 on the road)
= At Boise State, Saturday at 3 p.m., Mountain West Network

How the week plays out for Pepperdine (7-6)
= At San Jose State, Saturday at 6 p.m.
How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (6-7)
= Vs. Morgan State, Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 7 p.m.

Games of national interest this week include:
Wednesday:
= Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, games at 12:30 p.m., ESPNU; 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday:
= Louisville at Kentucky, 12:45 p.m., Channel 2
Sunday:
= West Virginia vs. Ohio State in Cleveland, Sunday at 9 a.m., FS1
= Kansas at Stanford, noon, Channel 7
= Harvard at Cal, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network (with Bill Walton)

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NUMBER 5What we agree is the NHL in Southern California just pushing through to 2020:
== The current Stanley Cup champions are in town. With the best record in the Western Conference. Ready for a Blues Christmas-time visit?
How this week shapes up for the Kings (15-19-4, tied for last in the Western Conference, but not quite last in the latest ESPN Power Rankings)
= Vs. St. Louis, Staples Center, Monday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At San Jose, Friday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Vancouver, Saturday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
How the week shapes up for the Ducks (15-18-4, tied for last in the Western Conference)
= Vs. Vegas, Honda Center in Anaheim, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Philadelphia, Honda Center in Anaheim, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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

NUMBER 1What we still believe we know about the NBA heading into the start of the launch of the beginning of the ramp-up to the season marketed as “We Finally Get This Started”:
== TNT can’t hardly wait to air a Thursday doubleheader – Lakers (24-3) at Milwaukee (24-3, without a loss since Nov. 8) at 5 p.m. with Kevin Harland and Reggie Miller, followed by Houston at Clippers at 7:30 p.m. with Marv Albert and Chris Webber  – mostly because there is no more NFL to contend with, and it’s a national exclusive.
== As Lakers coach Frank Vogel worries about “stagnation” and LeBron James is just faking things between trips to Akron, the Lakers continue a string of playing eight of nine on the road. Why would a team that’s won 14 straight road games worry at this point?
== The Clippers, 13-1 at home, finally come back after their six-game road trip ends with the bitterness of the NBA scheduling to accommodate back-to-back TV times. And they’ve been playing lately without Lou Williams (sore calf) and Patrick Beverley (concussion).

* How the week unfolds for the Lakers (ranked No. 2 behind Milwaukee in the Week 9 ESPN power rankings):
= At Indiana, Tuesday at 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Milwaukee, Thursday at 5 p.m. TNT
= Vs. Denver, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* How the week unfolds for the Clippers (20-8, No. 3 in the NBA Power Rankings, up from No. 4)
= Vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Houston, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= At San Antonio, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Oklahoma City, Sunday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2What we think we can explain about the importance of NFL Week 16:
== The official start of Winter – Is It a Proper Noun worthy of Capitalization? Others seem to have no problem capitalizing on it – doesn’t officially happen until 8:19 p.m. Saturday, making it the shortest day of the year.
Right about at that moment, the Rams’ season could be shortened to meaningless during their game at San Francisco (in Santa Clara, Saturday at 5:15 p.m., Channel 2 and NFL Network).
After the latest misery in Dallas, no matter how you call it in the air, the 8-6 Rams are in need of a win here against the NFC West leaders, and then another in the Week 17 finale at home against Arizona to finish up a respectable 10-6 (a record the Cowboys would love to have). The Rams then need to bank on U.S. Bank Stadium tenants Minnesota, with a 10-4 mark to date and undefeated at home, to lose a game they’re hosting Green Bay on the eve of Christmas Eve, then follow that with a botched finale against visiting Chicago, to also skid to 10-6, but lose the second NFC wildcard spot to the Rams, who would have the tiebreaker because a better record against NFC opponents.
== The 5-9 Chargers, no use to the Rams in their playoff puzzle as they gave a game away to Minnesota in Week 15, play what they assume will be their last game at the Dignity Sports Health Center in Carson against Oakland (Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Channel 2). Go ahead and trash the place when you’re done. You have no dignity to worry about at this juncture.
Finishing Week 15:
= Indianapolis at New Orleans, Monday at 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Moving into Week 16:
Saturday:
= Houston at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m., NFL Network
= Buffalo at New England, 1:30 p.m., NFL Network
Sunday:
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window to start the network doubleheader: N.Y. Giants at Washington (instead of Jacksonville at Atlanta, New Orleans at Tennessee or Carolina at Indianapolis).
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window (none available in L.A.): Baltimore at Cleveland, Cincinnati at Miami, Pittsburgh at N.Y. Jets
= Also in the CBS 1:05 p.m. window (not in L.A.): Detroit at Denver
= Also in the Fox 1:25 p.m. window: Dallas at Philadelphia (instead of Arizona at Seattle)
= Kansas City at Chicago, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Monday, Dec. 23:
= Green Bay at Minnesota, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

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NUMBER 3An educated guess at the college basketball season to date if we dare call Bill Walton to comment:
== Only San Diego State (10-0) and Auburn (9-0) have survived as unbeatens among those Top 25 teams to this point, after No. 1 Louisville, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Maryland dropped one. SDSU remains at No. 20 in the latest AP polls (up from No. 25). Auburn is flat at No. 9.
== 11-1 Gonzaga has shot up to No. 2 at the latest glamor team behind new No. 1 Kansas (9-1) after knocking off Arizona. Louisville (10-1) somehow drops to No. 3 after its first loss.
== The only Pac 12 teams in the current Top 25: No. 8 Oregon (8-2, up two spots), No. 16 Arizona (10-2, down from No. 15), and No. 22 Washington (7-2, up four spots). Colorado (8-2, losing two of their last three), fell out of the No. 24 spot. Continue reading “12.16.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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

NUMBER 1What 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

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NUMBER 2What 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:
Thursday:
= N.Y. Jets at Baltimore, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Sunday:
= 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 Continue reading “12.09.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”