AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
A snow sculpture depicting Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu sacking and forcing a fumble by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on display at a playground in Boyce Park in Monroeville, Pa.
Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NBA: Clippers vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
As Luc Mbah a Moute will have it, these Bucks remain in flux. Start with Michael Redd, who blew out his left knee last January against the Lakers and still hasn’t come close to making it all the way back yet. He’s making $18.3 million this season — the league’s fifth-highest-paid player. Former Clipper Corey Maggette (who scored 29 points with 11 rebounds in a six-point OT win over Toronto on Friday) has been helping to carry the load with Andrew Bogut since Brandon Jennings broke is foot on Dec. 18.
NBA: Lakers vs. Houston, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Lakers’ 10-point loss against the 6-12 Rockets on Dec. 1 was one of those milestones in the season — it was their fourth defeat in a row. So they followed it up winning eight of their next nine, with seven of those games on an extended road trip.
NHL: Kings at Minnesota, 5 p.m., Prime:
Can AEG president Tim Leiweke believe what he’s seeing with these Kings? The 2010 Executive of the Year according to the Los Angeles Sports Council who’s been busier trying to get a downtown NFL stadium built near Staples Center has only come out recently to say that the Kings aren’t for sale. Does that mean they’ll free up some money to bolster the Kings’ lineup as the post-All-Star game stretch to the playoffs gets headed up? A wildly unpopular 10-game road trip that could end up re-solidifying the team’s focus on a playoff run starts against the Wild, who have split the two previous meetings with the Kings, each taking a 3-2 decision that ended tied after regulation. The Kings are 10-13 away from home so far, one of just two teams in the five-team Pacific Division (along with Anaheim) that are below .500 away from home. The Wild is barely at .500 at home.
College basketball: USC at UCLA, Pauley Pavilion, 8 p.m., FSW:
What plans do the Bruins have in ending a four-game losing streak against the Trojans? A premature celebration could be called for. “When the other team starts to celebrate with 40 seconds left, that’s just kind of a slap in the face,” UCLA center Joshua Smith said after watching that happen in the Trojans’ 11-point win at the Galen Center on Jan. 9. “Don’t get me wrong. They won fair and square. Nothing against them. But with 40 seconds left, you just let the clock run out, shake our hands and go celebrate in the locker room.” Smith fouled out with just eight points and three rebounds in 22 minutes, trying to defend against the Trojans’ Nik Vucevik (20 points) and Alex Stephenson (left, who had 13 points, 16 rebounds).
NBA: Clippers vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Newly-minted Eastern Conference All-Star starting guard Derrick Rose missed the second of two free throws with less than a second left that would have sent the Bulls into overtime against the Clippers on Dec. 18. Instead, it was a one-point loss, and Rose had 24 points (vs. 29 for Blake Griffin).
NHL: Kings at Edmonton, 6:30 p.m., Channel 13:
The Kings’ 5-2 win over the Oilers a couple of weeks ago made it two in a row against Edmonton this season. The next two are in Oiler territory.
NHL: Ducks vs. San Jose, Honda Center, 7 p.m., KDOC:
Last meeting: a 1-0 Jonas Hiller shutout in early January.
NBA: Lakers vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
This challenge before the 11-day, seven-game pre-Grammy and All-Star break road trip might clarify any misconception about the Lakers’ post-season intentions, in light of their 15-point loss to the Spurs back on Dec. 28, where Kobe Bryant was 8-of-27 shooting (and the team was 8-for-23 from 3-point range). DeJuan Blair (17 points, 15 rebounds) pushed the Spurs past a two-point halftime deficit into a five-point lead by scoring six points in the paint during a 4 1/2 minute span of the third quarter.
Golf: PGA’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, first round, 1 p.m., Golf Channel:
Golf Channel cleans up on all four rounds, then recycles it for later viewing — especially the highlights from the traditionally noisy No. 16 par 3. At least the energy generated for this event will be clean — the tourney says all 125,000 kilowats of power will be “extracted, generated, and/or consumed without any significant negative impact to the environment” through wind power purchased by Green-E Certified Renewable Energy Credits or RECs from APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility.
NBA: Clippers at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., Prime:
Here’s the first of 11 in a row on the road for the Clippers. Joe Johnson (29), Jamal Crawford (24) and Josh Smith (22) combined for 75 of the Hawks’ 107 points in a nine-point win at Staples Center on Jan. 2.
College basketball: UCLA vs. St. John’s, Pauley Pavilion, 10 a.m., Channel 2:
The Bruins set this one up with the Johnnies before they hired Steve Lavin as their coach, and then agreed to make it a national telecast (hence, another ridiculous tip-off time). Wait a sec: Why doesn’t UCLA play Notre Dame this season?
NBA: Lakers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
The first of seven in a row on the road, back up against the team that leads the league in fewest points allowed per game. Put it this way: This season, the Hornets’ 101.3 defensive rating means they give up 101.3 points for every 100 defensive possessions. A year ago, their rating was 110.1 — meaning they’ve given up 8.8 fewer points per 100 possessions. Only one team has made a bigger improvement in that category over the last 35 years: the 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs.
NHL: Kings at Calgary, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Flames have been one of the league’s hotter teams, and captain Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla (his real name) is a good part of that reason. Still, he’s mentioned all the time in trade rumors with Philadelphia, Montreal and the N.Y. Rangers.
NHL: Ducks at Colorado, noon, Prime:
Peter Forsberg, attempting a return to the NHL at age 37 nearly three years after last playing with the Avalanche in the 2008 playoffs, has been skating with the team after arriving in Denver late last week. This could be his coming-back matinee party.
NFL: Super Bowl XLV in Dallas: Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh, 3:15 p.m., Channel 11:
If the Super Bowl commercials seem to get a little more hairy this time around, blame it on the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu and the Packers’ Clay Matthews.
The former USC stars have done as much for their teams as they have for shampoo endorsements — Matthews signed a one-year endorsement deal with Suave hair products recently, having asked for such a deal after seeing Polamalu enjoy his relationship with the Head and Shoulders folks.
You do what you gotta do for your ‘do. Right, A.J. Hawk?
All that’s left is for the Steelers’ Brett Keisel to get some love for his outstanding beard.
NBA: Clippers at Miami, 9 a.m., Prime Ticket:
LeBron James (ankle), Dwayne Wade (wrist) and Chris Bosh (ankle) have been in and out of the lineup lately for the Heat, who suffered the 111-105 loss to the Clippers back on Jan. 12. Yet, without Eric Gordon, the visiting team has a much tougher road of it this time. And, there’s the early wake-up call.