Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NBA: Clippers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
NBC Olympics, gone. Jay Leno, back. No more 10 p.m. hole. But something we feel comfortable in making a guarantee for tonight’s 11:35 p.m. return: At least one Clipper joke during his first opening monologue.
NBA: Lakers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
“Sometimes the best moves are no moves at all,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said after the trading deadline came and went without Indiana, or GM Larry Bird, making any moves. “If you’re looking at putting some free agents two years from now into this basketball team with Danny (Granger) two years out, Roy (Hibbert), Brandon (Rush), A.J. (Price), guys like that, then you have to be disciplined in what your doing. You have to make sure, if you make a move, that it’s best for the team.” What’s best for this team now is not to play the Lakers at this point in the season.
NHL: Kings at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Can the Kings (37-20), winners in 12 of their last 14, reclaim the momentum they had in the post-Olympic break? There are 20 games left in the regular season for them, starting against a Stars’ team currently ninth in the Western Conference.
NBA: Clippers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Forget the fact that the Suns squashed the Kaman-ejected Clips the other night. Did you see this in the Wall Street Journal recently: A study designed for the business publication by sports-reference.com, an Internet sports database, looked at NBA teams’ attendance for the past 10 seasons. It then weighed certain factors like city population, arena capacity, prior winning percentage and whether there are other competing teams in the same market. By those measures, Clippers fans are the most devoted. In the whole league. The Lakers fans came in sixth. WSJ also figured out: “One wild card that Lakers supporters can point to: Sometimes, Lakers fans buy Clippers tickets simply because they’re cheap by comparison.”
College basketball: USC at Arizona State, 5:30 p.m., FSW; UCLA at Arizona, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
UCLA forward Reeves Nelson, who had laser surgery to repair a slightly torn retina in his left eye, will try out some new James Worthy-type goggles upon his return. Enough time to break ‘em in before March Madness kicks in?
NBA: Lakers at Miami, 5 p.m, TNT, Channel 9:
Your Miami Heat, a .500 team with an Olympian point guard who may or may not be around much longer.
NBA: Kings at Nashville, 5 p.m., FSW:
The Kings went 0-3-1 against the Predators last season, including 0-2 at Staples Center, and are already 0-1 against them this season.
Exhibition baseball: Angels vs. Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., 2 p.m., FSW (replayed at 7:30 p.m.):
We accept practice baseball games from Arizona, and perhaps the first televised sighting of Godzilla in a Halo uniform. After this, the Angels also play the Rockies on Friday (noon, FSW, replayed at 10 p.m.) and Oakland on Sunday (noon, FSW, replayed at 7:30 and 10 p.m.)
Golf: PGA Champions Tour: Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, first round, Golf Channel, 3:30 p.m.:
Older gentlemen going around the local golf course, with someone named Eduardo Romero as your defending champion. With a man-purse of $1.7 to split up. The field of 80 includes Tom Watson, Bernard Langer and Fred Couples. Got goosebumps yet?
NBA: Lakers at Charlotte, 4 p.m., Channel 9:
Perhaps by the time the Lakers get to the N.C., these Bobcats will officially be in Michael Jordan’s grubby little hands. Commissioner David Stern is supposed to approve the transfer of ownership by the end of this month. Can’t do it sooner? Last meeting: Feb. 3, Kobe was 2-for-12 shooting (5 total points) in a two-point victory, where Lamar Odom scored 19 off the bench.
NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
They’re referring to Kevin Durant as “Duranchela?” Scary.
Horse racing: $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap:
Among the 31 early entries (narrowed to 14): Dry Martini, Cigar Man, Mr. Big, Rendezvous, Hold Me Back and Delightful Kiss. Oh, and Tiger’s Rock. But we’re hoping a Baffert horse, Misremembered, gets in. Remember, Roger Clemens… The 4-year-old will be making his second start of the year and has three runner-up finishes in his last three starts, including the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita a couple of weeks ago, where he blew a clear victory. For those who don’t remember.
Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., 1 p.m., Prime Ticket:
“Batting third, the designated hitter, No. 99, Manny ….” He’s in the shower.
Special: “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals,” HBO, 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.:
An hour-long documentary on the relationship between the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and the Celtics’ Larry Bird — starting with their meeting in the 1979 NCAA Finals and taking them through their NBA careers, launches on HBO. “Larry Bird and ‘Magic’ Johnson are basketball royalty,” says HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. “Their accomplishments speak for themselves at every level, but their intersecting back stories are just as rich and compelling as their championship performances. We will tell their full life stories and provide an in-depth portrait of their complicated and historic bond.” Guests interviewed include Pat Riley, Kevin McHale, Michael Cooper, Bryant Gumbel and Arsenio Hall.
College basketball: USC at Arizona, 10:30 a.m.; UCLA at Arizona State, 1 p.m., Channel 2:
Just like that, the Trojans end their season. Today. No Pac-10 tournament. No NCAA shot. Just a long wave goodbye since the regular schedule is done. Meanwhile, the Bruins get some national attention before the Pac-10 tournament starts next week.
NHL: Kings vs. Montreal, Staples Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
At the beginning of February, each Kings player decided to donate $200 per win to the American Red Cross relief operation in Haiti — up to $4,800 per win — with the Kings Care Foundation matching each contribution. With the four wins last month, the Kings will be making a $40,000 donation to the American Red Cross during today’s game.
NBA: Clippers at Utah, 6 p.m., Prime Ticket:
You’re only allowed to play the Jazz twice in one week.
NBA: Lakers at Orlando, 11:30 a.m., Channel 7:
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson has seen too much Lakers-Cavs NBA Finals talk. After all, who’s the defending Eastern Conference champion? “You look at the commercials now, and you’d think Cleveland and the Lakers already were in the championship [series]. I guess that’s what the fans want to see,” Nelson said last week after his Magic beat the Cavs, 101-95. “But I think we’re here to spoil it for the fans.” TNT got the first rematch of last year’s NBA Final. ABC has the second, and last, meeting before the Magic go poof into the night. Back on Jan. 18 at Staples Center, Shannon Brown scored 22 off the bench in 21 minutes (while Kobe added 11 in 41 minutes) during the Lakers’ six-point victory.