Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NFL: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Troy Polamalu says Roger Goodell has too much power, the headlines snapped the other day. The Pittsburgh Steelers star wasn’t acting defensive when sticking up for teammate James Harrison, fined again for another hit deemed too violent by the league. Read more into what he said: “There needs to be some type of separation of power like our government.
“There should be some type of players involved in decisions over how much people should be fined or what they should be fined for, as well as coaches, as well as front office people. I don’t think it should be just totally based on what two or three people may say who are totally away from the game. I think it should be some of the players who are currently playing.” That makes much more sense than that sexy headline. Now let’s see what happens when Polamalu snaps the leg of former USC roommate and current Bengals QB Carson Palmer.
Poker: 2010 World Series final table, 8:30 p.m., ESPN3.com:
From the 7,319 who entered the tournament months ago, it’s down to Tampa Bay’s John Racener against Canadian Jonathan Duhamel. It’s actually taking place Monday, and the edited-down version of it plays today. Watch it live today online or wait until ESPN edits it down for broadcast on Tuesday.
NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
T’wolves coach Kurt Rambis and power forward Kevin Love haven’t resolved their power struggle yet over the minutes played per game by the later. “You have to be on crystal meth not to give Love more minutes on that team,” said one scout on BleacherReport.com. “It makes no sense.” As Chris Broussard explained last week in TrueHoop.com, the T’wolves are 14-38 when Love plays 30 minutes or more, and 40-128 when he plays less than 30 minutes. Both are ridiculously bad, but showing Love more love seems to be the lesser of two evils for the team, which got off to an 0-4 start.
NBA: Clippers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Prime:
All that jazz: The 6-0 Hornets won’t lose their first one here.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Cal State L.A., Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., BruinsTV.com:
A fast-paced 36-point exhibition win over Westmont last week was much easier to watch than the near-loss to Concordia in a similar practice match a year ago. With one more practice game here to work things out, UCLA sophomore forward says this version of the team wants to be more like the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, “but with more defense.” Lots more D.
AP Photo/Lori Shepler
Ducks right wing George Parros, top right, and Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland get into a fight during last Friday’s game in Anaheim.
NHL: Ducks at San Jose, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Smooth move again by the Ducks’ George Parros to shave his trademark mustache off to support the “Movember” cancer awareness. “I was totally conflicted,” the team’s tough-guy said. “I really wasn’t excited about it. But at the end of the day, I did it because it was for a good cause.” See, we noticed. “Movember” is an annual charity event during November where men actually are asked to grow a moustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues. Check it out at www.movemeber.com.
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m., Prime:
They played each other nine days ago, and the Spurs won by nine. And the Clippers’ backup forward Craig Smith lasted less than a minute, ejected for clotheslining George Hill. Baron Davis wasn’t around to see it, either. Maybe this time.
NHL: Ducks vs. N.Y. Islanders, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
Last week, the Isles announced that A-1 First Class is the Official Moving Company of the team. Said the company’s president Matthew Schwartzberg: “We know that the next big move is going to be bringing the Stanley Cup to the island.” Not unless you take the Hot Tub Time Machine back to the mid ’70s.
NFL: Baltimore at Atlanta, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:
The NFL’s annual expansion to four days a week starts now — and with it, Joe Theismann returns behind the mike. Craig Ferguson (above) thinks that’s a big deal.
NBA: Lakers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
George Karl’s return to the Nuggets bench has produced a 4-2 start, including back-to-back wins over the Clippers and Mavs at home. “My hope is that it’s the beginning of a 50-win season and getting back to being a premier team in the Western Conference,” says Karl, diagnosed with head and neck cancer last January, which caused him to miss the last 14 regular season games and the playoffs. “I still am amazed at the soothsayers that say we’re not very good. I think we’re pretty good.” If Karl is more mellow, maybe it’s because of Carmelo Anthony’s performance: A team-high 38 minutes a game, producing 24.7 points a contest with nearly four assists and eight rebounds.
NHL: Kings vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The non-Star-struck Kings are the NHL’s first team to win 10 games and produce 20 points. And they’re 6-0-0 at home. Their 5-2 win in Dallas on Oct. 28 got the puck rolling on this latest blitz.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Cal State Northridge, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., BruinsTV.com, gomatadors.com:
No. 1 in the regular-season schedule for both teams. And this we know about this year’s Matadors — one returning starter (6-foot-7 forward Lenny Daniel) from a team that finished seventh in the league last year. Daniel, who set single season school record 44 blocks last year and had 7.8 rebounds a game, also has junior guard Vinnie McGhee to lean on (53 three-pointers last year). Otherwise coach Bobby Braswell, starting his 15th season (216-205) will wait and see how it sorts out.
NBA: Clippers vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
At this point, the Pistons are playing even worse than the Clippers, and couldn’t be blamed if it did inquire about any leftover government bailout money so it could try to lure Bill Laimbeer out of retirement.
NHL: Ducks vs. Dallas, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Ducks dinged the Stars, 5-2, back on Oct. 26.
College football: Boise State at Idaho, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
The Broncos’ 22-game win streak is the longest in college football right now.
Boxing: Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito, 8 p.m., HBO pay-per-view:
Congressman Pacquiao’s pursuit of the world super welterweight title concerns trainer Freddie Roach, who thinks his guy isn’t focused enough — and admitted it on Sunday’s episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes.” That may also concern 70,000 spectators expected to pack Cowboys Stadium or the millions of homes coughing up as much as $64.95 for a high-def telecast. “I’m worried about it, yes,” said Roach on the piece. “I’m walking around at two in the morning. Something is not right and we are not preparing the way we should for this fight.”
Pacquiao has only lost three times in his pro career, which started when his 16 years old, in 105-pound division bouts. Could he lose this one? “If he keeps on the road he’s going, yes,” Roach says. If that’s the case, just fill Pacman’s gloves with quick-dry cement and watch what happens. Margarito won’t know what hit him.
Mixed martial arts: UFC 122: Yushin Okami vs. Nate Marquardt, 8 p.m. (delayed), Spike TV:
Japanese middleweight Okami goes to Germany to meet Marquardt. We’d rather see a rematch between Calvin Borell and Javier Castellano in the jockey-weight division.
College football: USC at Arizona, 5 p.m., Channel 7:
The Wildcats’ Rose Bowl hopes took a detour last Saturday against Stanford, even as Nick Foles got his feet back under him. The Trojans could actually tie Arizona in the Pac-10 standings with a win.
College basketball: USC vs. UC Irvine, Galen Center, 1 p.m., USCTrojans.com:
The Trojans, 16-14 overall and 8-10 in league play last season while serving their punishment, lost three of their top four scorers, but feature one of the Pac-10′s best frontlines in 6-foot-10 forward Nikola Vucevic, voted the league’s most
improved player last season, and 6-foot-9 Alex Stepheson. Coach Kevin O’Neill hired a strength and conditioning coach this season, and Vucevic looks stronger. “I’ve seen a big-time jump in him conditioning-wise and strength-wise. His game is just overall better,” O’Neill said. “I think he’s primed to have a great junior year.”
NHL: Kings vs. N.Y. Islanders, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
There are rumors that the Flames want to dump forward Jarome Iginla, and the Kings could be interested. Iggy would pop in L.A. Will he be here by this game?
MLS playoffs: Western Conference final: Galaxy vs. FC Dallas, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
The Galaxy is one boot away from getting back to the Nov. 21 MLS Cup — they defeated Dallas’ football club 1-0 without Buddle or Donovan (or Beckham) on May 20 in Dallas, then closed the regular season with a 2-1 home win to claim that groovy Supporters’ Shield thing. But here’s the catch: If they win, they’ll face either San Jose or Colorado, battling Saturday for the Eastern Conference title (Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel). Yup, two of the teams that the Galaxy had to snuff out en route to the Western Conference regular-season championship, who finished fifth and sixth in the West. How did that work?
NFL: New England at Pittsburgh, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:
Two prime-time games in one week for the Steelers seems reasonable.
NBA: Lakers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
The Lakers’ 114-106 win over the Stoudemire-abandoned Suns in Phoenix two weeks ago was an eye-opener. “We’re very fortunate,” said Kobe Bryant. “We’ve got a couple of guys that can just stop momentum, me and Pau. Whenever it got close, we just went to one of us.’” It was tied at 76 after Hedo Turkoglu, who struggled through most of his debut in Phoenix, made a driving layup, but the Lakers scored the next nine, the last on Steve Blake’s 3-pointer to make it a nine-point lead.
NHL: Ducks at Chicago, 4 p.m., Prime:
Did you know: The defending Stanley Cup champs are still searching for the game-winning puck from the Game 6 OT win. Patrick Kane scored to end the Hawks’ 49-year championship drought, but the puck that got by Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton has never been tracked down. Kane suspects Ben Eager picked it up, and still has it, after he was traded by Chicago to Atlanta. “(The Flyers’ Chris) Pronger probably threw it in the garbage or something,” Eager replied. Let’s go to the video: