Play it forward: Dec. 21-27 on your L.A. sports calendar

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TODAY

According to those who can do the math, New York’s football Giants (7-6) have some kind of shot at one of the two wild-card spots in the NFC — even though Green Bay and Dallas, at 9-5, are looking much better now. All it would mean is that Eli Manning turns it up a notch, leads New York on a giant run and, just before anyone expects anything special, a trip back to the Super Bowl as a huge underdog against an undefeated team … this time, Indianapolis, led by the other Manning. It could happen.
NFL: New York Giants at Washington, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recorded his 700th career victory when San Antonio defeated Indiana on Saturday. No. 701 should be very, very dicey. Last meeting: Spurs won, 115-90, on Dec. 13. It wasn’t that close.
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

TUESDAY

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Coming off the stunner against Tennessee, the Trojans basketball team heads to Hawaii — a place the football team would probably rather be — for three games before starting the Pac-10 season. It could be worse. The Trojans hoopsters could actually be playing Western Michigan at Western Michigan.
College basketball: USC vs. Western Michigan in the Diamond Head Classic at Honolulu, 2 p.m., ESPNU, 710-AM. Also: USC plays either Northeastern or St. Mary’s on Wednesday (either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m., ESPNU) and plays on Friday, TBA, on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

The loss to the Irish wasn’t so bad, right?
College basketball: UCLA vs. Colorado State, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., 570-AM, uclabruins.com

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The bowl game USC could have been playing in if it lost to Oregon State during the regular season at the Coliseum … instead, that looks like a pretty decent win against the Beavs now. To think, Oregon State would have been in the Rose Bowl had it defeated Oregon in its finale regular-season game. College football: Las Vegas Bowl: No. 18 Oregon State vs. No. 14 BYU, 5 p.m., ESPN.

Stu Lantz is back in the rotation. Should see as much, if not more, playing time at Adam Morrison did on the last road trip. And there’s no snow storms in the forcast to push the tipoff back a couple of hours, or to a different city.
NBA: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, 710-AM.

Last meeting, Rockets won, 102-85, on Dec. 2. It wasn’t that close.
NBA: Clippers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

WEDNESDAY

Another bowl game USC could have been playing in if Cal had defeated lousy Washington squad in the final Pac-10 game as schedule. How did the Huskies manage to spoil it for everyone?
College football: Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego: Cal vs. No. 23 Utah, 5 p.m., ESPN.

THURSDAY

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A Christmas Eve filler: Santa hosts “SportsCenter.” Not really, but you can buy this ornament from any Hallmark store. Meanwhile, ESPN has “SportsCenter: A Decade of Moments,” a 90-minute retrospectice, co-hosted by Hannah Storm and Dari Nowkhah.
Special: “SportsCenter: A Decade of Moments,” ESPN, 1:30 p.m.; ESPN2, 6:30 p.m.

A real Christmas Eve treat: Listen to Vin Scully call an NFL playoff game. Here’s the catch: Dwight Clark makes a really good play near the end.
(If you need the broadcasting background on this CBS telecast, Wikipedia explains: It is often mistakenly assumed that Pat Summerall and John Madden handled the call on CBS … Summerall instead handled the call of the game on CBS Radio with Jack Buck, while Vin Scully and Hank Stram (CBS’ “B team” for NFL broadcasts in 1981) called the game on television. Meanwhile, John Madden was off to Detroit to prepare for his Super Bowl telecast with Summerall. Hank Stram returned to his normal position as the color analyst on CBS Radio alongside Buck for the Super Bowl, while Summerall and Madden teamed for the first of eight Super Bowls together.
NFL: 1981 NFC Championship game: San Francisco vs. Dallas, NFL Network, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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FRIDAY
This here is Angel. She’s a Laker girl. Appearances by Angels on Christmas are a good thing. So is seeing Shaq bringing LeBron, frankincense and myrrh to the nationally-televised party for all the new HDTV sets.
NBA: Lakers vs. Cleveland, Staples Center, 2 p.m., Channel 7, 710-AM.

Another Christmas Day treat: Last meeting: Suns won, 109-107, on Oct. 28. It shouldn’t have been that close.
NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN, 980-AM.

San Diego, on a nine-game winning streak, visits Nashville to face a Titans team that started 1-6 but has won seven of its last eight and has a sniff of a wildcard spot. As long as Vince Young is still calling the signals, why not?
NFL: San Diego at Tennessee, 4:30 p.m., NFL Network.

Remember the “Tuck”?
NFL: 2001 AFC Divisional playoff game: Oakland at New England, NFL Network, 9:30 a.m.

How much time you got on your Tivo? Eighteen-plus hours? Let er rip.
MLB: All nine episodes of Ken Burns’ documentary “Baseball,” MLB Network, 3 a.m.

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SATURDAY
What nut job would have predicted this for USC’s football team at the start of the season? Aside from the fact that Joe McKnight has offered to drive as many teammates as he can fit in his ride over to Candlestick Park Pac Bell Park AT&T Park for this all-important matchup against the Eagle Scouts of Boston College, we wonder how many will also purchase this roasted, but unsalted official sweatshirt for $44.95 — which we believe is the same cost of the remaining tickets to the actual exhibition game.
College football: Emerald Bowl: USC vs. Boston College, 5 p.m., ESPN, 710-AM.

Your Pacific-Division leading Kings are back after a nine-day break for holiday, losers in two of their last three (all on the road).
NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 6 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM.

Paul Westphal (not Paul Westhead) has these other Kings with a respectable 12-14, with a 10-3 record at Arco Arena, or whatever they’re calling that facility in the state capital.
NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., Channel 9, 710-AM.

SUNDAY

The Cowboys, coming off a victory against previously-undefeated New Orleans, have a 4-9 Redskins team up next that is 0-4 against NFC East opponents.
NFL: Dallas at Washington, Channel 4, 5:15 p.m.

Again, the Giants try to stay relevant.
NFL: Carolina at N.Y. Giants, Channel 11, 10 a.m.

First meeting of the season between these storied franchises. Same old story for one. And the other. The Celtics’ Eastern Conference best record so far includes a 12-1 road mark.
NBA: Clippers vs. Boston, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM.

Somehow, this last game before the Pac-10 schedule begins didn’t make the local TV lineup.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Delaware State, Pauley Pavilion, 1 p.m., 570-AM, uclabruins.com.

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