Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NBA: Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
Last night’s Grammy extravaganza — such a dog-and-Gaga show. The Lakers had reason to pay attention because it means, after this one, they can finally come home and face the music. Kobe Bryant may even be able to dial it back and wait until they get back to Staples Center before he breaks the franchise’s all-time regular-season scoring record. The Grizzlies just had their 11-game home winning streak snapped. Some expect a letdown after Sunday’s win in Boston. Relax. We’ll predict a Memphis-type spankin’ to take place before the Lakers leave the building.
NBA: Clippers at Chicago, 5 p.m., Prime Ticket:
The Clips may have already passed last year’s win total already, but losses to the two worst teams in the Eastern and Western Conference on back-to-back games last week is no step forward. Why do we even bother any more?
NHL: Kings vs. N.Y. Rangers, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
A current poll on NHL.com asks: Which Western Conference coach is the strongest candidate for coach of the year? Colorado’s Joe Sacco was the top choice with 24 percent of the vote. Then there’s Chicago’s Joe Quenneville, Phoenix’s Dave Tippett, Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault . . . the Kings’ Terry Murray was last among six available choices. Even after that 5-0 road trip? With back-to-back rallies against Boston and New Jersey? It’s hard to underplay how impressive that trip was. Now, back home, they face the Rangers, who beat the Kings, 4-2, way back in mid-October back in New York. For a little primer, go back to 1981, when the Kings hosted the Rangers in the playoffs at the Forum, and listen to some names from the past trading punches.
NBA: Clippers at Atlanta, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Now the Clip’s trip ends. As if it matters.
NBA: Lakers vs. Charlotte, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Larry Brown hasn’t quit on this team yet. Here’s a chance for the Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace and the Lakers’ Shannon Brown to get an early start on the dunk contest.
Golf: PGA Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, first round, Golf Channel, 2 p.m. (final round Sunday, Channel 4, 11:30 a.m.):
Honestly, how is a round ball hit by a square groove go any better into a round hole ? If you didn’t get your fill of Phil Mickelson and his groovy wedge controversy during the San Diego tournament, Lefty is ready do the right thing in L.A. this week. The Northern Trust Open’s two-time defending champion, who still has to contend with Steve Stricker nosing through his bag, will probably come and go again in his private jet, and finish up in time to get everyone in front of the TV for the kickoff to Sunday’s Super Bowl — if, of course, there’s no rain mucking things up.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Stanford, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; USC vs. Cal, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m.: A month ago, USC dropped a pair in the Bay Area to the Bears and Cardinal; UCLA spilt the difference. They’re all still bunched up in the Pac-10 standings like they all like each other. Except Cal’s at the top.
NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
In this season’s two previous meetings, the Kings have a 4-3 win at Anaheim in early December and a 4-0 win at Staples a few weeks back. That last one should have a residual effect. In the third period, there were two fights, five roughing minors, one 10-minute misconduct and one game-misconduct on Ducks forward Bobby Ryan for shoving Oscar Moeller head-first into the boards. Although the rivals tangle twice in four days (the next is Monday), the key will be a home-and-home series in early April, with just a couple of regular-season games left.
NBA: Lakers vs. Denver, 7:30 p.m., FSW, ESPN:
If the Lakers and Cleveland are vying for the first- and second-best records in the NBA, who’s right behind ‘em? How ’bout them Nuggets, who’ve done most of their damage at home (21-3). Last meeting: A ridiculous 105-79 Denver win, where the Lakers scored only eight points in the third quarter and 23 total in the second half.
NBA: Lakers at Portland, 7 p.m., Channel 9:
Someone sent us a link to that naked photo of the Blazers’ Greg Oden. It went straight to junk mail.
NBA: Clippers vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
The Clippers can soften the Spurs up for their meeting with the Lakers a couple of days after this. Or, give them a false sense of ancient superiority.
NHL: Kings vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSW:
A couple of weeks ago back in Detroit, Brad Richardson stepped up and lit the lamp with the game-winner in the third period to lead the Kings back from a 2-0 deficit and snatch the victory. Could that have given them the confidence to push forward?
College basketball: UCLA vs. Cal, Pauley Pavilion, 1 p.m., Channel 2; USC vs. Stanford, Galen Center, 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
The Bruins’ 76-75 OT win at Berkeley came after Michael Roll picked up a loose ball and hit a 13-footer with 1.9 seconds left. He had 19 points and six assists in the contest.
NFL: Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, New Orleans vs. Indianapolis, 3:18 p.m., Channel 2:
Which Pierre is feeling lucky today?
Saints running back Pierre Thomas, aka the PT Cruiser, does all the heavy lifting for Reggie Bush. And he rarely fumbles (has none since Week 8). And based on his playoff performance, he’ll be the person that the Colts’ defense has to contain.
Then there’s Colts receiver Pierre Garcon, the Haitian who spend the days before a recent playoff contest trying to find relatives in the earthquake-ravaged country and raising funds for relief efforts. Then he caught an AFC-title game record 11 passes. Give it up for both of them.
Here some other things to ponder from Bodog.com (linked here):
== Odds to win Super Bowl MVP:
=Peyton Manning 2/3
=Pierre Thomas 10/1
=Pierre Garcon 14/1
== Longest run from scrimmage for Pierre Thomas:
=over 13 1/2 (-115)
=under 13 1/2 (+115)
== Will Pierre Thomas score a touchdown?
== Total receiving yards for Pierre Garcon:
=over 62 1/2 (-140)
=under 62 1/2 (+110)
== Longest reception for Pierre Garcon:
=over 27 1/2 (-115)
=under 27 1/2 (-115)