Play it forward: May 17-23 on your sports calendar

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

MONDAY

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NBA playoffs: Western Conference Finals, Game 1: Lakers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 6 p.m., TNT:

Excuse me, Mr. Buss, but we’d like to introduce you to the Lakers’ Western Conference finals opponent, the Phoenix Suns. They’ll be here in a moment and …. Uh, Jerry, my power fowards are up here. Stop checking out my point guards.
Meanwhile, because the networks have taken over coverage, Lakers’ TV play by play man Joel Meyers has been reduced to recruited to answering fans’ questions on the Fox website. Here’s one from Ben H. of Valencia: What’s your prediction on Lakers-Suns series? Says Joel: “Even though the Lakers took three out of four from the Suns during the regular season, I feel this is going to be a long series. Both teams are capable of winning on the other’s home floor, as we saw from the Lakers at the end of March in Phoenix. The Suns are also coming into the conference finals with as much confidence as any team …” He used 64 more words in that answer, but we had to cut him off since we missed two plays while he was talking, and Stu Lantz ran off to the restroom for a smoke.

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MLB: Angels at Texas, 5 p.m., FSW:

This two-game pit stop in Arlington, Tex., introduces the Angels to an old friend, Vlad Guerrero, among the AL’s top 10 in average, HRs and RBI. And here’s a newbie: The Rangers send out Derek Holland, who struck out seven A’s over six shutout innings in his first start since Triple-A and, according to this latest MLB.com video, likes to be called “The Dutch Oven” (linked here) — get it, his name is Holland! — instead of “Wonderboy.” The stupid girl in this video didn’t get it, did she? An Urban Dictionary definition of Dutch Oven (linked here) just for her.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Houston, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

If John Ely is the only good thing to come out of trading Juan Pierre to the White Sox, than so be it. The Dodgers may have stumbled onto something with him, having allowed him enough time to get his first major-league win last week at Arizona, holding the Dbacks to just six singles. Now if they can just keep Charlie Haegar on the DL.

TUESDAY

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MLB: Dodgers vs. Houston, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:

On Andre Ethier bobblehead night, we can almost guarantee a walk-off grand slam. By Manny Ramirez. Or Jamey Carroll. By this time, Ethier and his broken pinkie may be on the DL.

MLB: Angels at Texas, 5 p.m., FSW:

The Rangers’ starter tonight, C.J. Wilson, the former Loyola Marymount guy out of Newport Beach, already has two complete games, is near the AL ERA lead (1.48) and is the first pitcher in Texas history to begin the season with seven straight quality starts. This, five years after Tommy John surgery and then becoming the team’s top reliever. “He had eight pitches last year, but he could only use a couple out of the bullpen,” manager Ron Washington said. “Now he gets a chance to use his pitches more. As a closer, it was more aggressiveness. Now he can show everything. … As a starter, he can really really use his brains now.” Wilson matches up against the Angels’ Jered Weaver, still leading the AL in strike outs.

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NBA: Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1: Boston at Orlando, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

A half-hour before tipoff, the league will hold the lottery for its June 24 draft, so those sitting around at Donald Sterling’s annual party will see if the Clippers have a shot at John Wall, Evan Turner, Gordon Hayward or another guy from Kentucky. At which point does Blake Griffin get thrown back into the hat? The Cleveland Cavaliers will likely be lobbying for a lottery shot considering they’ll be in a huge rebuilding phase of their franchise coming up.

NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 2: Montreal at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Versus:

Here’s the league that does it right, reseeding the teams after each round. Congrats for fixing it so that a No. 7 can meet a No. 8 in the conference finals, and have a home-ice advantage. Games 3 and 4 are Thursday and Saturday in Montreal.

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NHL playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 2: Chicago at San Jose, 7 p.m., Versus:

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen offered his support for the Blackhawks: “We all suck, all sports in Chicago are very bad… we need something good and positive for the city … We need the Blackhawks to eat some Sharks.” Games 3 and 4 are Friday and Sunday in Chicago.

WEDNESDAY

NBA playoffs: Western Conference Finals, Game 2: Lakers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 6 p.m., TNT:

The sixth NBA Store has been built in China, this time in Shanghai . . . but none in L.A.? Where are supposed to get our anti-microbial Western Division champion T-shirts for $154.95? The upset here is that the league has only given the two teams one day off between Games 1 and 2. That’ll mess with everyone’s momentum.

MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

Yup, it’s come down to Russ Ramon Ortiz filling another starting spot. Against a guy who the Dodgers may wish they’d never let go, Jon Garland. They hooked up last Friday in SD, but weren’t around for the end. Maybe Ned Colletti didn’t hear: Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt (making $15 mil this season and $16 mil next) said he’s be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the team wanted to deal him. Or then, the Dodgers’ sweep in San Diego last weekend will erase the perceived need for more pitching.

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MLB: Angels at Chicago White Sox, 5 p.m., FSW:

More from Ozzie Guillen, the walking nuclear quote. “I’m a good manager,” the White Sox skipper said recently. “Some people like to believe it or not, but if you come here every day, I know what I’m doing. Sometimes the players perform, sometimes they don’t, but I know what I’m doing. I’m a good manager. I know that. There’s a lot of (lousy) managers out there, worse than me, and they keep having job after job.” He can’t look bad if he keeps sending Mark Buehrle (2-4, 4.69 ERA).

THURSDAY

MLB: Angels at Chicago White Sox, 5 p.m., FSW:

And here’s Guillen again, on Pierre, a quote from the other day: “This guy has been a good hitter for so many years for a reason. He’s a veteran guy. A slow start, it gets to everyone. You panic, you get nervous, but I expect a lot of good things from him. I expect him to do what he’s doing right now, and hopefully he continues to do that and help us get to where we want to get. When he gets things going, the ballclub is better.” Pierre, the White Sox’s semi-regular leadoff guy, has pushed his average to .252 by hitting .362 through the first two weeks of May. Meanwhile, Andruw Jones (.260, 9 HRs, 18 RBI) is battling a stiff neck.

MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

And, just like last Saturday, it’s Kershaw vs. Corriea.

MLS: Galaxy vs. FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m., FSW (delayed, 9 p.m.):

The World Cup is a couple of weeks away. Be patient.

FRIDAY

MLB: Dodgers vs. Detroit, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:

The Dodgers and this interleague stuff: Not so fun. A 29-52 record since ’04. And the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson are in the top five of AL hitters. Dontrelle Willis is kickin’ it again for the Tigers in the opener of three. Justin Verlander probably misses out.

MLB: Angels at St. Louis, 5 p.m., FSW:

Former Cardinals’ 15-game winner Joel Pineiro starts the first of three against St. Louis. Brad Penny — remember him? — throws for the Cards in this one.

SATURDAY

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Boxing: Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez, Staples Center, 6 p.m. (airs on Showtime delayed at 9 p.m.):

The fourth meeting between the three-time world champion Vazquez and the two-division world champ Marquez is dubbed “Once and Four All.” In previous meetings, Vazquez broke his nose and had to stop, Marquez looked worse for wear in a sixth-round TKO loss and, in their last fight, it was a split decision after Vazquez damaged his eye and Marquez appeared defeated.

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NBA: Eastern Conference finals, Game 3: Orlando at Boston, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

Did we mention that the best thing about this series: No Shaq. And no more Cavs fans.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Detroit, Dodger Stadium, 4 p.m., Channel 11:

The strange start time here is because Fox wants to carry the UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and InterMilan at 11:30 a.m., but still do its weekly MLB game. So, in this case, the MLB gets kicked to the curb.

MLB: Angels at St. Louis, 11:15 a.m., FSW:

Has Brian Fuentes figured it out by now?

SUNDAY

Tennis: French Open, first round, 2 a.m., Tennis Channel:

It’s live, so stay up late Saturday to capture all the red-clay madness from the start. This thing ends June 6.

NBA playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 3: Lakers at Phoenix, 5:30 p.m., TNT:

Don’t expect to see any L.A. City Councilperson stopping the Lakers at LAX and forcing them not to do their business in Arizona over the next few days.

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Cycling: Amgen Tour Stage 8: Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Agoura Hills, 12:30 p.m. (coverage live on Versus begins at 3:30 p.m.):

After Stage 6 (Palmdale to Big Bear Lake) and Stage 7 (an individual time trial around L.A. Live near Staples Center), the race finishes in the Conejo Valley, starting and ending in Thousand Oaks. The 80-plus miles and 7,000-feet of climbing begins at The Oaks shopping center, goes east on Thousand Oaks Blvd., revs up on Agoura Road in Westlake Village, heads up to Mulholland, a climb up to Malibu Family Wines, a couple more miles atop the Santa Monica Mountains, then north on Westlake Blvd., a fast ride down the hill, and back to the start of the loop — more than 20 miles. Now, do three more laps. Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and David Zabriskie appear to be among the healthy designated riders in this race, based on the fact they started it off in Stage 1 on Sunday during the Nevada City-to-Sacramento leg.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Detroit, Dodger Stadium, 1 p.m., Prime:

On, yeah, among the other odd-ball interleague matchups this weekend: Florida at Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay at Houston, Toronto at Arizona and Atlanta at Pittsburgh. Oh, wait, that last one …

MLB: Angels at St. Louis, 11:15 a.m., FSW:

Albert Pujols is a modest 7-for-24 (.292) lifetime against Angels pitchers currently on their staff, with only one homer – against Jered Weaver, who should be on the hill today.

Miss USA 2010 pageant, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, 7 p.m., Channel 4:

Carmelo Anthony (because the Nuggets are out of the playoffs) and Johnny Weir (because he can pull it off with a feather boa) are among the judges in this annual competition. Swimsuits are nice, but it’s always discovering the hidden talents of the ladies that has us most interested. We see (above) how well Miss Maine can dribble, Miss New York’s skills on the yoga mat and Miss Arkansas’ pogo-stick handling — but who’s the dame going crazy in the watermelon eating contest?

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