02.18.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneHaving 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).

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1twoHow 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:
Thursday:
* USC vs. Oregon, at Galen Center, 6 p.m., ESPN
* UCLA vs. Oregon State, at Pauley Pavilion, 8 p.m., FS1
Saturday:
* 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 Continue reading “02.18.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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02.11.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIf the higher-ups at the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open are open to not-so-nutty ideas, and even have a decent sense of humor, they’ll put Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson in the same grouping for the first two rounds of this week’s event at Riviera Country Club.
Call it “The Re-Match,” if you need some branding. Outside of a major, this might be a rare opportunity.
Woods, who in the recent past has skipped this L.A. stop of the tour because of a poor success rate on the course, is now an avid supporter since his foundation benefits from the funds raised by this event. Problem is, he missed the cut last year and then disappeared on everyone. Woods made his PGA Tour debut here as a 16 year old with an exemption in 1992. He has never won in 12 events – still the course he has played the most on the PGA Tour without winning. He nearly won the 1998 event, but it was held at TPC Valencia that season, and he lost in a playoffs. He was also second in ’98.
Mickelson, a back-to-back winner at Riviera (2008-’09) and runner-up in a 2012 playoff, originally was going to skip this tournament on his early 2019 schedule, the same way he surprisingly passed on the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torey Pines, considered to be his home event. Mickelson originally said he wanted a week off between Pebble Beach (where he holds a two-stroke lead with two holes to play when the final round finishes Monday — 8 a.m., Golf Channel) and the WGC-Mexico Championship, which he won last year. But Mickelson, who missed the cut at Scottsdale two weeks ago, decided to jump in at the Genesis Open before the deadline.
So now, on Valentine’s Day, Woods and Mickelson share a Riviera grass patch, in an event together for the first time since their odd pay-per-view “The Match” event in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend, where Mickelson ended up with the $9 million winner-take-all share. Get these two on the kiss cam before it’s too late.
In an event that already has seven of the top 10 players in the world, now we have Woods (at No. 13) and Mickelson (No. 29), who finish sixth last year behind winner Bubba Watson.
For the record, Watson has won three of the last five years at Riviera, so if form holds, he will give it up this time. He had an emotional scene as he took a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after three rounds a year ago and converted it into a two-shot win over Kevin Na in the finale to claim a $1.29 million paycheck. World ranked No. 1 Justin Rose and No. 2 Brooks Koepka have passed on Riviera. But No. 3 Dustin Johnson, the 2017 winner, returns. So does No. 4 Justin Thomas, No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 6 Jon Rahm, No. 7 Xander Schauffele and No. 9 Rory McIlroy. Former champions here coming back include James Hahn, Bill Haas, Steve Stricker, Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and crowd favorite Fred Couples, the 59-year-old who won way back in 1990 and ’92. Other notables showing up: Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh and Jordan Spieth. Continue reading “02.11.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

02.04.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneThe NBA calendar marks two events Thursday that carry a different degree of importance, but none the less are tied together.
First, the trade deadline is at noon, Pacific Time. The chances seem to dwindle, if you’re reading tea leaves and #Wojbombs, that the Lakers and Pelicans reach some kind of understanding that sends Anthony Davis to Los Angeles in exchange for a somewhat depleted Lakers’ roster. (As an aside: How would L.A. deal with two relatively high-profile Anthony Davises in its midst? The former USC big man on campus from the ‘70s, meet the future Lakers’ big man of the ‘20s).
A few hours after that happens, Team LeBron and Team Giannis will determine the rosters for the Feb. 17 NBA All Star Game with a draft that this year will finally air on TV (TNT, 4 p.m.). It’s not clear if this exercise will have already taken place and we just get to see the results, or if there’s actually the drama of how one players gets picked (or snubbed) over another like a supersized playground draft. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the leading vote-getters from fans for the West and East teams, can pick 10 starters in the first round (from Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker), 14 reserves in the second round (from Davis, plus LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, , Blake Griffin, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Victor Oladipo, Ben Simmons, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Vucevic and Russell Westbrook) and then  either Dirk Nowitzki or Dwayne Wade in the third round (they are the two special additions). Former Laker (and current Net) D’Angelo Russell has been added to the pool to replace the injured Oladipo.
The somewhat intriguing aspect of this, of course, is if James gets to draft Davis, who is in the mix of additional players. Get your mock drafts ready, or prepare to mock how this thing comes out in real time.
As the Grammy trip continues:
This week for the Lakers:
At Indiana, Tuesday at 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
At Boston, Thursday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, TNT
At Philadelphia, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
This week for the Clippers:
At Charlotte, Tuesday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket
At Indiana, Thursday at 4 p.m. Prime Ticket
At Boston, Saturday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket

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1twoThe storylines going into the NHRA 59th Winternationals at Pomona (Thursday through Sunday, with finals coverage on FS1 starting at 2 p.m.) start with Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence back at the track where he capped off his 2018 season. He won all six countdown races to the title a year ago, the first in NHRA history, for 11 wins on the season. His main competitors: Doug Kalitta (who won last year’s Winternational), Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force. In the Funny Car, J.R. Todd clinched his title at Pomona last season, the last of his six wins. Sixteen-time champion John Force returns with Robert Hight, Ron Capps and Shawn Langdon in full force. More info: www.NHRA.com.

Continue reading “02.04.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

01.28.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneAh, right. The Super Bowl. Version 53.
One thought is to give you 53 links to stories you should read going into the one labeled LIII.
Such as: L.A. Times editorial writer David Ulin has made a case for why one shouldn’t watch. It can be compelling for those who struggle with the impact big-time sports has on society.
Now you shuffle the deck now and come up with the other 52 reasons, a bit more uplifting, to see if there’s a need to witness the Rams’ attempt to capture their first Los Angeles-based championship in the Super Bowl cycle of games.
Such as, if you really want to dumb down the Rams-New England Patriots matchup – Sunday, 3:20 p.m., Channel 2, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo – there are plenty of outlets willing to help. Like, the Rams …

This Rams-Pats meetup actually circles back to some to Super Bowl XXXVI some 17 years ago, when Tom Brady led a 20-17 win over the Rams, then representing St. Louis, at the Louisiana Superdome. The last Super Bowl played in Atlanta was in 2000, when Kurt Warner (and Dick Vermeil) threw for 414 yards and led the Rams, just five years removed from Anaheim, over Tennessee (and Jeff Fisher) 23-16 for the franchise’s one and only title. The key play: A 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce with 1:54 left. The real key play: The Rams’ Mike Jones tackled Kevin Dyson inside the 1 as time expired.
Also this week: Pro Football Hall of Fame announcements included in the “NFL Honors” show (Saturday, 9 p.m., Channel 2) Continue reading “01.28.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

01.21.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIt’s not your imagination. The NBA, at least this season, is content on capitalizing on national holidays to highlight the current incarnation of the Lakers in games against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. National TV, too. It’s not unnoticed that the team’s second meeting of the 2018-19 season caps off the annual Martin Luther King Day national TV day (at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT).
So, will LeBron James play? It would be fitting. He was injured during the first Lakers-Warriors meeting in Oakland – way back on Christmas Day – and he hasn’t seen the court since as the Lakers have seen some highs and lows in going 5-8 in his absence. James had 17 points and 13 rebounds in 21 minutes in that first meeting, but he was gone by the end of the third quarter with his now famous groin strain. Somehow, the Lakers pulled out a head-turning 127-101 triumph by outscoring the Warriors 36-19 in the fourth quarter, as a result of Kyle Kuzman (19 points), Ivica Zubac (18 points, 11 rebounds, a plus-25) and Rajon Rondo (15 points, 10 assists off the bench with a plus-24). Golden State shot just 9 for 36 from three-point range, with Steph Curry (minus 9) and Kevin Durant (minus 11) combining for just five of 16. The Lakers had lost seven in a row to the Warriors and 11 in a row in Oakland. Wipe that all clean.
If you’re keeping track on this holiday theme, the next Lakers-Warriors meeting after this burrows its way into Groundhogs Day – Saturday, Feb. 2, at Oakland, an ABC contest. The last of the four regular-season encounters is April 4 (at Staples Center, on TNT), which, from our limited research ability, is known as National Burrito Day (always the first Thursday in April).
Also worth noting: Monday’s Lakers-Warriors game will be an opportunity for fans to interact with NBA referees standing by on Twitter to answer questions. Fans can tweet @OfficialNBARefs or use the hashtag #RefWatchParty to rattle their cages.
The rest of the Lakers’ schedule this week:
* At Staples Center vs. Minnesota, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet and TNT
* At Staples Center vs. Phoenix, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
As for the Clippers, three games on the road could be problematic before coming home.
The Clippers this week:
* At Dallas, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Miami, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Chicago, Friday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Staples Center vs. Sacramento, Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
Also on MLK Day:
* Oklahoma City at New York, 9:30 a.m., NBATV
* Orlando at Atlanta, noon, NBATV
* New Orleans at Memphis, 2:30 p.m., TNT
* Houston at Philadelphia, 5 p.m., TNT Continue reading “01.21.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

01.14.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIt seemed inevitable there’d be a Rams-Saints rematch somewhere in the NFC playoffs after witnessing their Week 9 encounter at New Orleans. Back then, the Rams’ eight-game win streak covering September and October to open the season came to a halt on that first weekend in November when Drew Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs without a pick during a 45-35 triumph, extending the Saints’ wins tream at the time to seven straight.
Lessons learned from that one: Don’t doubt Michael Thomas, the 25-year-old, third-season receiver out of Ohio State who set a franchise record with 211 yards on 12 catches, capped by a game-changing 72-yard TD reception. He celebrated by pulling a flip phone out of the field-goal padding and reprised a celebration last seen by the Saints’ Joe Horn in 2003. The Saints finished off the deal with P.J. Williams broke up a fourth-down pass from Jared Goff (28 of 40 passing, 391 yards, three TDs, one INT) to Brandin Cooks. “We love it. You find out about yourself when you have a little bit of adversity,” Rams coach Sean McVay said afterward. “I know that everybody in that locker room is going to respond the right way. Sometimes setbacks can be setups for comebacks — and that’s the way we look at it.” So that sets up this NFC Rams-Saints title game, Sunday at 12:05 p.m. at the Superdome on Channel 11.
In the Saints’ 20-14 win over Philadelphia in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff contest, Thomas pulled in a 2-yard TD reception to give his team its first lead of the game. It came at the end of an 18-play, 92-yard drive that ate up nearly 11 ½ minutes. Thomas finished with 12 receptions for 171 yards, targeted 16 times, more than twice as many as anyone in the game.
The Rams and Saints have one game against each other in NFL playoff history – the Rams of St. Louis with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk lost a 31-28 decision against the Aaron Brooks-led Saints at the Superdome in the 2000 wildcard round despite 21 fourth-quarter points.
The Rams-Saints contest comes before the AFC championship game – New England at Kansas City, Sunday at 3:40 p.m., Channel 2.
Need anything else on that one? Ask a Chargers fan.

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1twoThe latest ESPN bracketology breakdown/guess at the field of 68 for the men’s college basketball tournament allows for only two Pac-12 teams — Arizona and Arizona State – compared to the 10 that could possibly represent from the Big 10 (out of 12) or eight others from the ACC. Heck, the West Coast Conference is on par to have two teams as well at this point. It’s not just ESPN; others in this prognostication game believe the Pac-12 is too talentless to have more than a pair of entries. Before USC and UCLA are allowed to measure up against the Wildcats and Sun Devils next weekend (Jan. 24-26) for their one-and-only meetings of the regular season, the Trojans and Bruins conduct their first of two regular-season faceoffs at the Galen Center (UCLA at USC, Saturday, 1 p.m., Channel 2) for what seems to be some cannibalization as they both try to strengthen their resumes with nearly the same records. Continue reading “01.14.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

01.07.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

1oneIf you digested the projection of the NFL playoffs made by CBS Sports’ Will Brinson just after the regular season ended, you might be amused to see a Chargers-Saints Super Bowl matchup set for early February, and Philip Rivers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. That’s all still alive after the previous wildcard weekend. But Brinson only got the two AFC games tagged right. Neither of his NFC wildcards came up right.
As a result, Los Angeles will have a rooting interest on both Saturday and Sunday when the divisional round comes into place.
For the record, the final eight lays out:
Saturday:
* Indianapolis at Kansas City, Channel 4, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4
* Dallas at Rams, Coliseum, Channel 11, 5:15 p.m., Channel 11
Sunday:
* Chargers at New England, Channel 2, 10 a.m., Channel 2
* Philadelphia at New Orleans, Channel 11, 1:40 p.m., Channel 11

What to know about the Chargers: They are 8-1 on the road this season, 8-0 when not in L.A. (the only road loss at the Coliseum to the Rams in Week 3), with wins in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver and Baltimore (not to mention, London). Yet a road team hasn’t won a playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., in six years. A matchup of the 37-year-old Rivers and 41-year-old Tom Brady sets a record for their combined age in a playoff setting. What isn’t old news is that it should be pretty darn cold in New England this time of year. Weather.com says it’ll be snow showers with a high of 30 degrees and a low of 15.
What to know about the Rams: The Cowboys are just 3-5 away from home. But according to insiders at InsideTheStar.com, a less-than-edgy Cowboys’ fan site, the Eagles’ win over the Bears in the wildcard round that sends the Cowboys to L.A. is an outcome that is “arguably better for Dallas.” Meaning, they go to the No. 2 seed instead of the No. 1 seed New Orleans, even though Dallas had a Week 13 upset win over the Saints. “The prospect of a rematch with the Saints in the Superdome was not appealing. (The upset) would have been tough to duplicate. Not only that, but the Rams lost some steam to close the regular season. Their defense, despite featuring Aaron Donald, is one of the lesser groups in the league overall. And if you have a choice between Drew Brees and Jared Goff in an elimination game, then is there really much to debate?” Not really. At least we know Jerry Jones won’t really change his expression one outcome or another.

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1twoAnd the 2019 College Football Playoff champion will be … let’s check the resumes and see … ah, Alabama and Clemson. Again. It’s the fourth season in a row the two programs have met in this post-season format. The Crimson Tide play its fourth straight title game and seventh in the past 10 seasons. It has a 5-1 mark in its past six appearances — the lone loss coming to Clemson, of course. And somehow coach Nick Saban can claim a record-setting seventh national title. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney has his own little dynasty rolling. Enjoy the main event Monday on ESPN at 5 p.m. with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, plus a “MegaCast” breakdown: The “Field Pass” with Adam Amin and Steve Levy on the sidelines (ESPN2), the “Monday Night Film Room” with Joe Tessitore, Jason Whitten, Booger McFarland and Todd McShay instead of the Coaches’ Film Room (ESPNEWS), a “Command Center” with split-screens and shots of the coaches with info graphics (ESPNU), “Sounds of the Game” with no broadcasters (ESPN Classic), a production on the SEC Network called “Thinking Out Loud” with Greg McElroy, Marcus Spears and Alyssa Lang yucking it up, the ESPN Deportes feed, and more on ESPN3 with options of watching the “BlimpCast” through the Goodyear Blimp above Levis Stadium in Santa Clara or the “TechCast” with a mix of vantage points that includes cameras attached to referees, pylons and an even higher SkyCam above the field.
Someone must be watching all this through rose-colored glasses.

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1threeThere is some value in both UCLA and USC owning 2-0 records after the first weekend of Pac-12 conference basketball play. The Bruins posted 92 and 98 points in wins over Stanford and Cal, the first time they’ve exceeded 90 points since the first three games of the season against. ahem, Purdue-Fort Wayne, Long Beach State and St. Francis. The Trojans haven’t started conference 2-0 since 2010.
The downside: As both are still 9-6 overall, it’ll take some doing to pretty themselves up by March. Now let’s ship them off to Oregon against the Ducks (9-5, 0-1) and Beavers (9-4, 1-0) and see if they sink or dog paddle.
For UCLA (9-6, 2-0):
* At Oregon, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2
* At Oregon State, Sunday at 7 p.m., FS1
For USC (9-6, 2-0):
* At Oregon State, Thursday at 8 p.m., ESPNU
* At Oregon, Sunday at 5 p.m., ESPNU
For the other Southern California teams:
* Loyola Marymount (13-3, 1-1 WCC) vs. St. Mary’s, Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Pepperdine (8-8, 1-1 WCC) at Santa Clara, Thursday at 8 p.m.; at San Diego, Saturday at 1 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Long Beach State (6-10) begins Big West play vs. UC Davis, at the Walter Pyramid, Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN3
* Cal State Northridge (6-10) starts Big West play at UC Riverside, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3; at Cal Poly, Saturday at 7 p.m., BigWest.TV.
Games of national interest:
* Tuesday: Duke at Wake Forest, 4 p.m., ESPN; Texas A&M at Kentucky, 4 p.m., SEC Network; St. John’s at Villanova, 4 p.m., FS1; Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 6 p.m., ESPNEWS; North Carolina at North Carolina State, 6 p.m., ESPN; Alabama at LSU, 6 p.m., SEC Network.
* Wednesday: Georgetown at Xavier, 3:30 p.m., FS1; Auburn at Mississippi, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Arizona State at Cal, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net; TCU at Kansas, 6 p.m., ESPN2; San Jose State at Nevada, 8 p.m., CBSSN; Arizona at Stanford, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Net.
* Thursday: Washington State at Colorado, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net; Washington at Utah, 7 p.m.; Pacific at Gonzaga, 8 p.m., ESPN2.
* Friday: Indiana at Maryland, 4 p.m., FS1; Purdue at Wisconsin, 6 p.m., FS1.
* Saturday: Louisville at North Carolina, 9 a.m., ESPN; Providence at Georgetown, 9 a.m., FS1; Mississippi at Mississippi State, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Duke at Florida State, 11 a.m., ESPN; Seton Hall at Marquette, 11 a.m., FS1; Ohio State at Iowa, 11:30 a.m., BTN; Georgia at Auburn, 1 p.m., ESPN2; Kansas at Baylor, 1 p.m., ESPN; Tennessee at Florida, 3 p.m., ESPN; Arizona State at Stanford, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Net; DePaul at St. John’s, 3 p.m., CBSSN; Nevada at Fresno State, 5 p.m., ESPNU; Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 5:30 p.m., SEC Network; Gonzaga at USF, 7 p.m., ESPN2; Washington at Colorado, 7 p.m., ESPNU; Arizona at Cal, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net.
* Sunday: Villanova at Creighton, 9 a.m., Channel 11; Michigan State at Penn State, 1:30 p.m.; Northwestern at Michigan, 4:30 p.m., BTN.

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1fourSensing that the Lakers’ desperation with a 1-5 run since LeBron James went out with a groin injury in Christmas Day, dropping them to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference, the only comfort seems to be that there’s hope he could return by the time his former team, Cleveland, comes into town (at Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet).
Sooner, sure. But let’s be sure about groin pulls.
The Lakers’ Friday night loss to the 10-29 Knicks, at Staples Center, followed by a 22-point drubbing at Minnesota on Sunday that was apparently so embarrassing for the Timberwolves that their fired their coach afterward, really doesn’t look all that swell.
Also this week for the Lakers:
* At Dallas, Monday at 5:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Vs. Detroit, at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
* At Utah, Friday at 7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN

The Clippers have a meet-and-greet with Blake Griffin and Detroit at Staples Center (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket). Consider the Pistons’ season. They started 4-0. Then lost five in a row (two in OT). They won five in a row over Thanksgiving. Then lost six straight. Griffin leads the team with 25.0 points and 5.2 assists a game, to go with 8.7 rebounds.
Also this week for the Clippers;
* Vs. Charlotte at Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Denver, Thursday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket

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1fiveWhen Pittsburgh comes to Southern California for its only NHL stop of the year, is it still kind of a big deal? We shall see when the Ducks face the Pens on Friday (at Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket) and the Kings get them the next day (at Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., FSW). Sidney Crosby (19 goals, 32 assists) is 12th in the league in scoring. Neither the Ducks nor Kings have anyone in the top 90 in points.
Also this week for the Kings:
* At San Jose, Monday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
* Vs. Ottawa at Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
Also this week for the Ducks:
* Vs. Ottawa at Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Winnipeg, Sunday at 3 p.m., Prime Ticket