Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
College basketball: West Coast Conference tournament final, 6 p.m., ESPN:
It’s at the Orleans Arena, next to the Orleans Casino and Hotel, a ways off the Vegas strip but close enough to the Wayne Newton Drive-Thru at the local In ‘n’ Out. Exactly where you’d expect a conference devoted to Jesuit teaching to hold their post-season celebration.
NHL: Kings vs. Columbus, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Itching for a win? With Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller still on the DL – those pesky shingles – Nick Nickson will be paired with Jim Fox for this road trip (Mike Kalinowski and Daryl Evans will be on radio). Meanwhile, the Kings could scratch out a inspired effort against the BJs to at least get back on the winning track..
NBA: Lakers vs. Toronto, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Gosh darn it, you really wanna know what’s wrong with the Lakers, based on their recent 0-3 road trip and those who call into the local sports-talk shows: They lack a killer instinct at the start of every game, Phil Jackson never calls a timeout at the right time, Kobe Bryant has played too many minutes, Derek Fisher is too old, Andrew Bynum is too young, Pau Gasol is too soft, Lamar Odom is too married, Luke Walton is too injured . . . And Gary Vitti is too bald. Otherwise, that NBA title a year ago was no fluke. With Dallas now threatening to take the best record in the Western Conference, the Lakers — 29-5 at home — welcome a return to Staples Center, but after this, only six home games and 12 on the road before the playoffs.
NBA: Clippers at Orlando, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket:
When the only news the team can generate is Baron Davis’s fake infomercial about his “Booms Beard” — used to be $5,000, now just $29.95 — its no hair off our chin.
College basketball: Pac-10 Tournament, play-in game: Oregon vs. Washington State, Staples Center, 8 p.m., FSW:
Good for USC leading a boycotting of this faux event. Bring your lit torches to Entry Door 5 at Staples Center tonight for a full refund.
NBA: Clippers at Miami, 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
The Clippers keep getting the Lakers’ hand-me-down schedule from the week before. Good luck.
NHL: Kings at Chicago, 5:30 p.m., FSW:
A great measuring stick against a team fighting San Jose for the top spot in the Western Conference, and loaded with players from the most recently Olympics.
College basketball: Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals: UCLA vs. Arizona, noon; Oregon or Washington State vs. Cal, 2:30 p.m., Washington vs. Oregon State, 6 p.m.; Stanford vs. Arizona State, 8:30 p.m., Staples Center, FSW:
My printable bracket from Pac10.org seems like it could use more ink. Either my cartridge is low, or my interest is.
Golf: PGA Tour, WGC-CA Championship, Doral, Fla., first round, Golf Channel (final two rounds, NBC Channel 4):
Tiger Woods didn’t sign up for this one, missing Doral for the first time since 2004. Also absent is Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, ranked 37th in the world. The 18-year-old is scheduled to graduate from high school on Monday. What’s Tiger’s excuse?
NBA: Lakers at Phoenix, 6 p.m., Channel 9:
The PHX gang maintains the highest point average per game in the NBA at more than 109 a contest. And the highest point allowed per game in the league, at over 106. Dodger fans in nearby Glendale, Ariz., for spring training will no doubt pop by and try to help the Lakers wake up on the road.
NBA: Clippers at Charlotte, 4 p.m., Prime Ticket:
While Michael Jordan awaits ownership of the Bobcats, the Bobcats await ownership of the Clippers.
NHL: Kings at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., no TV:
Last week, in their first game back from the Olympic break, the Kings beat the Stars 5-1 at the same facility, but it was kind of deceiving. If Turco’s in goal, things happen rather easily for L.A.
College basketball: Pac-10 Tournament semifinals, Staples Center, 6 and 8:30 p.m., FSW:
This is why the Lakers, Clippers and Kings are all on the road tonight. Our grandest apologies. By the way, what’s the schedule of the Pac-10 women’s tourney over at Galen Center?
Horse racing: Santa Margarita Invitational, Santa Anita, 4 p.m., HRTV:
Zenyatta, who hasn’t run since last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic triumph (above), has impressed jockey Mike Smith in her training runs as she builds toward her first race of the spring after it was assumed she was retiring. This is the build up to a filly faceoff against Rachel Alexandra at Oaklawn in Arkansas on April 9.
College basketball: Pac-10 Tournament final, Staples Center, 3 p.m., Channel 2:
Remember the days when Stanford coach Mike Montgomery (as well as Arizona coach Lute Olsen) decried the charade of the Pac-10 tourney? Montgomery, who now coaches Cal, may have the only entry from the conference in the field of 65 if the Bears win this one, as the top seed. After that, it could take some hard lobbying by Dan Guerrero, the UCLA athletic director and head of the selection committee, to get either/or Arizona State and Washington on board as well, even with 20-win seasons. Expand the field to 96 now, and perhaps the Pac-10 gets three teams in.
College basketball: Big 12 Conference tournament final, 3 p.m., ESPN:
With Brent Musburger and Bob Knight, looking live in Kansas City, Mo., maybe a Kansas-KState matchup. After that, it’s the Big West Conference championship (ESPN2, 5 p.m.), the Big East championship (ESPN, 6 p.m.) and the Western Athletic Conference championship (ESPN2, 7 p.m.).
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Kimmy Hughes is angling to get his Clips in as a No. 12 seed out of the Midwest Regional, not looking past the Spurs since it could get them into a second-round matchup against Sienna.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament bracket pairings, 3 p.m., Channel 2, ESPN:
Everyone’s bracket can be erased. Fathead came up with that idea when it produced the wall-stick-on version. Now, the first part of it is locked in, and we do miss the days when Billy Packer would scream live on the air about some injustice that had been done by the men’s basketball tournament committee — mostly, that Wake Forest got jobbed. The decisions for this come just after the ACC championship (ESPN, 10 a.m.), the Atlantic 10 championship (Channel 2, 10 a.m.), the SEC championship (Channel 7, 10 a.m.) and the Big Ten championship (Channel 2, 12:30 p.m.). Who’s lucky enough to join Cornell?
NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, Staples Center, noon, FSN:
A rare Sunday afternoon home game — probably they’d have done it Saturday but the Pac-10 tournament pushed things back — and the first of four in a row at Staples Center. Plus they’re giving away Anze Kopitar bobbleheads to those who get in there early enough.