Play it forward: Jan. 11-17 on your L.A. sports calendar and beyond

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

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NHL: Kings vs. San Jose, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM:
Yup, Kings and Sharks. Again. Just like last Monday. Just like a new episode of “Ice Men of A Certain Age.”

TUESDAY

NBA: Lakers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., KCAL-Ch. 9, 710-AM:
So sad to see the former champion Spurs in this situation: Aging ungracefully, players breaking down, just spinning their wheelchairs toward … a few games out of the Southwest lead behind Dallas, 15-6 at home, 12-4 since a 9-9 start. Are they zombies?

WEDNESDAY

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NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., KCAL-Ch. 9, 710-AM:
Don’t make the Lakers put a beating on the Mavs the same way they did a coupla Sundays ago. It’ll just make Mark Cuban mad. Really mad. Guess it all depends on whether Lamar Odom shows up or not.

THURSDAY

NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM, 830-AM:
A recent New York Times story (linked here) wonders if the Kings, despite finally being in playoff contention, are capturing any attention in L.A., since TV ratings are down a bit and attendance is only slightly up from last season. There’s even a quote from new left-winger Ryan Smyth: “It’s not a hockey market, for sure.” But we love this one from team head businessman Luc Robitaille: “People says it’s a basketball town, but if it was, more people would go see the Clippers. It’s about winning.” BINGO! And winning games like this against your crosstown rivals, who’ve had several big playoff runs (Cup champs, ’07, lost in the finals, ’03) in the time since the last Kings’ playoff appearance (’02) goes a long way.

Golf: PGA Tour: Sony Open in Honolulu, at Waiale, first round, Golf Channel, 4 p.m. (final round is Sunday, Golf Channel, 4 p.m.):
They gave John Daly a sponsors’ exempt for this one. JD probably thinks it means he can have all the free Sony goods he can carry to the back of his pickup. Sure enough. But then see how far you get trying to driving it off the island.

FRIDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Clippers, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, Prime Ticket, 710-AM, 980-AM:
Last meeting, last Wednesday: A shocking 11-point Clipper triumph, thanks to Baron Davis showing up, and Pau Gasol not showing up and Kobe Bryant shooting 10-for-30 to get to 30 miserable points. This time, it’s on the Lakers home floor. That oughta change any misconceptions that this was just a blip on the radar.

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SATURDAY

College basketball: UCLA vs. USC, Pauley Pavilion, 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 710-AM, 570-AM:
Remember a couple years ago when it was all about O.J. Mayo meeting Kevin Love for the first time? Yeah, good times. Take stock in where these two programs lie now. The Trojans are under a self-imposed ban of post-season play, all because of Mayo. The Bruins haven’t been getting much love, even after a surprising victory over Arizona State in their last Pac-10 tilt. It’s a whole new day in the tank-top rivalry. And why do they stage this at such an awkward time?

NBA: Clippers at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM:
LeBron James shot a commercial for McDonald with Larry Bird and Dwight Howard that’ll air sometime during the Super Bowl. Sorry, Shaq, you didn’t answer the casting call for “Superman-like NBA center.” No Shaq Big Maq on the horizon.

NHL: Kings vs. Boston, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM.:
The Bruins might want to take this one outside, to the rink across the street at LA Live. It ain’t Fenway Park, but we do what we can in SoCal.

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NFL playoffs: Arizona at New Orleans, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11; Baltimore at Indianapolis, 5:15 p.m., Channel 2:
They worry that the Saints haven’t won a game in five weeks. They also point out that the Colts haven’t won a game in four weeks. There hasn’t been a team in L.A. that’s won an NFL game before Christmas Eve, 1994. How long we forget.

SUNDAY

NFL playoffs: Dallas at Minnesota, 10 a.m., Channel 11; New York Jets at San Diego, 1:40 p.m., Channel 2:
“The stars are aligned perfectly for the Chargers,” says NFL Network analyst and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci. “You have a team that has balance in all three phases of the game. They have a bye, so they’ll be fresh and healthy. They have 11 wins in a row. I don’t think any of these AFC teams want to be the seed that has to travel through San Diego.”

Tennis: Australian Open, first round: 4 p.m., ESPN2
According to the laws of physics and the properties of the Southern Hemisphere, we should be surfing off the coast of Brisbane in a counter-clockwise motion rather than getting ready for the first Grand Slam event of the year.

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