Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NFL: Baltimore at Houston, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
As an L.A. NFL fan that saw the league award a franchise several seasons ago to the former home of the Oilers intead of the former home of the Rams and Raiders, do you find any glee in watching this Texans’ season about to collapse like the Metrodome roof? After what many thought was a tailor-made carpet trip to the playoffs, Houston now knows it has to win its last four in a row, and then hope a couple teams ahead of it struggle? Yup, Houston has a problem. Go ahead. Smile at least.
College basketball: UCLA vs. UC Davis, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Put these 5-4 Bruins in the Big West Conference, and they’d be a shiny 3-0, with wins this year already against Cal State Northridge, Pacific and Cal Poly. The Aggies of UC Davis are next (with UC Irvine next week). And Ben Howland’s record over the last two seasons is now 18-22?
NHL: Kings at Detroit, 4:30 p.m., Versus:
In the afterglow of a 3-2 OT win against the Red Wings at Staples Center last week, the Kings start a five-game road trip with a rare national TV exposure. They had none of these last year. The Red Wings ended their first two-game losing slide with back-to-back wins over the weekend.
NBA: Lakers at Washington, 4 p.m., Channel 9:
Pardon the presidential interruption, but a day after a special meet-and-greet with Barack Obama — again — the Lakers have another scheduled appointment in pummeling the Wizards, probably not as irratically as they did last week at Staples Center. Last January, when the Lakers were in a 5-5 stretch after a 28-6 start, they had their champions meeting at the White House and were inspired to win nine of their next 11. And, if things to as advertised, Andrew Bynum will see his first action of the season here. Holding your breath?
NBA: Lakers at Indiana, 4 p.m., Channel 9; Clippers at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Prime:
If not for the Grammys, then why again has everyone been kicked out of Staples Center this week? That goofy Disney On Ice show starts tonight, and goes through Sunday. The Lakers, as a result, get to meet up with the team that beat ’em by three a couple of weeks ago, and the Clippers find out how life’s been treating Elton Brand (averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game).
NHL: Ducks at Washington, 4 p.m., FSW:
As for this Ducks’ extended roadie, it’s not clear why they’ve been frozen out. They won’t be back at the Honda Center until New Year’s Eve, but Disney On Ice doesn’t barge in until Dec. 21-26.
NFL: San Francisco at San Diego, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:
The Chargers, in their last home game, only wish they could face Brodie Croyle every week. The 49ers’ Alex Smith, in his last win over Seattle, only wishes he could look like John Brodie every week. San Diego (and Pittsburgh) has the easiest remaining schedule left for AFC playoff-eligible teams — their opponents’ winning percentage for the last three games are a combined .354.
NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m., FSW:
Andy McDonald was the Blues’ leading scorer when he went out with a concussion on Dec. 4 – he hit a rut in the ice and crashed into the leg of Edmonton’s Shawn Horcoff. McDonald hasn’t played since. Remember, he missed the last 29 games of the Ducks’ Stanley Cup run in ’03 because of post-concussion syndrome. He also missed seven games earlier this season for the same reason.
NHL: Ducks at N.Y. Islanders, 4 p.m., Prime:
The best lead to a story last week in the Orange County Register: “ANAHEIM – Everything about Teemu Selanne’s game is fine except for that nagging pain emanating from his groin muscle.” He’s gone missing again, maybe for some of this trip.
NBA: Lakers at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Channel 9:
All those things that Doug Collins used to say about Phil Jackson from the broadcast table may come back to haunt him now that he’s back coaching the Sixers.
NBA: Clippers at Detroit, 4:30 p.m., FSW:
TheBigLead.com contributor Stephen Douglas wrote it last week: “The Clippers are a garbage fire and Baron Davis is fanning the flames with an excrement-covered blanket. But Blake Griffin… man he’s a joy to watch.”
High school football: California state Division I championship: Corona Centennial vs. Palo Alto, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Centennial (15-0) won the Division I state title in ’08, and has scored as many as 82 points in a game this season.
College football: New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque: BYU vs. UTEP, 11 a.m., ESPN; Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, Idaho: Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois, 2:30 p.m., ESPN; New Orleans Bowl: Ohio vs. Troy, 6 p.m., ESPN:
To kick off the bowl season, it’s two 6-6 teams meeting in the only live televised sporting event in the state of New Mexico. At the end of the day, they’ll still combine for a .500 record. It can only get better.
High school football: California state open-division championship: Concord De La Salle vs. Anaheim Servite, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Perennial power De La Salle, the open division winner in 2009, is 13-0, having won its division title 19 straight seasons. Servite, 14-0, the defending Division II title winner, and ranked No. 1 by MaxPreps, has won its last 25 in a row. In the 3:30 p.m. Division II championship, Serra of Gardena (14-0), with a 29-game win streak having won the Div. III title a year ago, takes on Folsolm (13-1) from the San Joaquin Valley.
NHL: Kings at Nashville, 5 p.m., Channel 13:
The Kings registered a 4-1 against the Predators in early November behind Jonathan Bernier.
NBA: Clippers at Chicago: 5 p.m., FSW:
See: Friday, at Detroit, Clippers.
College basketball: UCLA vs. BYU, Honda Center, 2:30 p.m. FSW:
For the first time since the inception of the John R. Wooden Classic, its namesake won’t be present. The Hall of Fame coach’s passing in June left some doubt about whether it could go on, but soon afterward, the family said in an a statement that it was “proud to continue the Wooden Classic in honor of our father, grandfather and great grandfather,” said Jim Wooden and Nancy Muehlhausen, John Wooden’s son and daughter. This is the 17th year of the event, and UCLA has been in 15 of them. The day begins with St. Mary’s against Long Beach State.
College basketball: USC at Kansas, 9 a.m., ESPN:
What UCLA couldn’t accomplish two weeks ago, maybe the Trojans can: Ending the Jayhawks’ home winning streak. Depends on what moods the referees are in.
NBA: Lakers at Toronto, 10 a.m., Channel 9:
We’re looking at a list of the leading scorers this year for the
non-D League Raptors and … nope, don’t see Chris Bosh. We’ve lost track of his whereabouts. Blame Canada. At least this one will end early.
NFL: Green Bay at New England, 5:15 p.m., Channel 4:
Aaron Rodgers may not remember much about the Pack’s last loss to Detroit – and might have even been more confused watching the Vikings play the Giants on the Lions’ home field on Monday.
NHL: Kings at Chicago, 4 p.m., FSW:
They’ve already lost twice to the defending Stanley Cup champs in the first 22 games. Is Marco Sturm ready yet?