Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NBA: Clippers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
No one can milk an MLK Day like the NBA. The Clippers, asked to make the quicker turnaround from yesterday’s emotional win over the Lakers, have the matinee. Then L.A.’s other team tries to recover with a flashback to their playoff opening series from a season ago, when they stole the thunder from eighth-seeded OKC with a six-game win. Kevin Durant averaged 25 a game (five below his season average), but it was a golden-haired Ron Artest given credit for taking him down. On a day where there are 13 NBA games to be played, the TV lineup also includes Chicago at Memphis (10 a.m., ESPN), Sacramento at Atlanta (1 p.m., NBA TV) and Orlando at Boston (5 p.m., TNT), with the TNT studio crew hanging out at Staples Center to take it all in.
The next LAL-OKC matchup is on the last Sunday in February on ABC.
Tennis: Australian Open, first rounds, ESPN2:
On our backward calendar, the event actually started yesterday, but it’s already into Monday now and we’re still playing catchup. ESPN2 has about a bajillion hours, including coverage that began on Sunday and runs until 5 a.m. on this day, then repeats from noon to 3 p.m. before going back live at 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. Tuesday. It’s a bit mindboggling, but that’s common for this time of year. Meanwhile, maybe you could use a towelling off. Here’s a great buy for $74 Aussie currency (linked here).
NHL: Kings at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Versus:
The NHL’s MLK slate: Six games. The Kings, perhaps, could use some time away from home, against a Stars squad first in the Pacific Division and winners of three in a row.
NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m, FSW:
How the Blues have won five in a row against the Kings, including both meetings this year, and one last week, could be addressed in the visiting locker room before the puck drops.
NHL: Ducks at Ottawa, 4:30 p.m., Prime:
The Senators’ play of late, sending them 11 points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, has the locals speculating about the future of head coach Cory Clouston and GM Bryan Murray.
Golf: PGA’s Bob Hope Classic, first round, noon, Golf Channel:
The 52nd go-around in the five-day event in the desert under the Bob Hope name (and without a title sponsor) is “the beginning of some very, very successful years,” says new event chairman Larry Thiel. It could start with getting a field that has some players at least in the top 30. We’re back to La Quinta’s Palmer and Nicklaus PGA West courses, plus the La Quinta Country Club and Silver Rock (with that 625-yard 12th hole). Wayne Gretzky, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bo Jackson and Kurt Russell have the most star power in the field, leading the list of celebs that butt their way inamong the 384 amateurs that will fill in with the 128 pros. And again, mysteriously, no George Lopez.
NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 6 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:
If Mark Cuban sends his personal limo to pick up Phil Jackson from the Lakers’ team hotel, will he accept? The teams meet three times in the regular season, all in the second half.
NBA: Clippers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
With foresight 20-20, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love stand to each post 20-20 nights. Everyone else, clear out.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Cal, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Stanford, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., USCTrojans.com:
The Trojans’ Nikola Vucevic (10.1) and Alex Stephenson (8.8) are the top two leading rebounders per game in the conference. The Bruins’ Tyler Honeycutt (7.9) and Reeves Nelson (7.8) are Nos. 4 and 5. In between? Cal’s Markhuri Sanders-Frison (8.3).
NBA: Clippers at Portland, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
The last visit to Portland in early December for a nine-point loss, but the Blazers’ Brandon Roy hasn’t played in nearly a month because of season-ending knee surgery.
NHL: Kings vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN:
The front-end of a home-and-home against the Coyotes leaves little room for error.
NHL: Ducks at Toronto, 4 p.m., Prime:
Will the Ducks be allowed to start slapping shots at former teammate J.S. Giguere, or will he still be nursing that nagging groin injury?
NBA: Lakers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Channel 9:
If the Carmelo Anthony drama isn’t sorted out by this point, does it matter? It can’t be good for George Karl’s health. TNT’s Kenny Smith: “I think Denver has already been hurt. I don’t think there is anything else that can happen that’s going to make the morale of the team go down (further).” When TNT reporter David Aldridge asked Anthony after a Nuggets’ 28-point win over Miami last week why he hasn’t stated his desire to be traded or to remain in Denver, Anthony replied: “You want me to get booed some more?”
Motocross: AMA Monster Energy Supercross series, 7 p.m., Dodger Stadium:
The motorcycle tour that likes to chew up MLB parks in the off season — it started at Angel Stadium earlier this month, hit Chase Field in Phoenix last week and will go to Oakland and back to Anaheim later — makes its debut at Dodger Stadium. It’s strange to see not just a track on the field, but note that the tickets are priced so that pavilion and box seats are the same, and loge level strip that would go from first to third base is actually more expensive.
NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 5 p.m., FSW:
As promised the second of two in a row against the Coyotes. Got any better ideas on how to speed up the season series?
NHL: Ducks at Montreal, 4 p.m., Prime:
This is the Ducks’ fourth game in a row against teams from Canada. In the past, that wouldn’t be so unusual.
NBA: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The third meeting between the two in the last 13 days, and we’re still not sure how Ryan Gomes and Ike Diogu are racking up as many Clipper minutes as they have.
College basketball: UCLA vs. Stanford, Pauley Pavilion, 11 a.m., Channel 2; USC vs. Cal, Galen Center, 8 p.m., FSW:
You’ve got to get up pretty early in the day to fight off attacking Cardinals for some national TV exposure. Meanwhile, will the Trojans stay awake for their later-night affair?
College basketball: Cal State Northridge vs. Cal Poly, 1 p.m., Prime:
Lenny Daniel, with 18 points and 13 rebounds last week against Cal State Fullerton, has 17 double-doubles in his two-year Matadors career.
College basketball: Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine, 7 p.m.:
The teams each won their home meetings last season, but since 2000-01, the Waves have a 19-3 head-to-head record against the rivals from Westchester, and that’s with four different head coaches. Tom Asbury is 3-1 over the last two seasons against LMU, and 9-4 during his previous six-year run as the head coach from ’88-’94.
NFL playoffs: NFC championship: Green Bay at Chicago, noon, Channel 11:
They’ve played 181 previous times over the last 90 years, but it’s their first meeting in a game that decides who goes to the Super Bowl. They’ve played 181 previous times over the last 90 years, but it’s their first meeting in a game that decides who goes to the Super Bowl. The two teams split their two games against each other this year, with the Bears winning at home in Week 3, 20-17, as the Packers’ had a team-record 18 penalties.
NFL playoffs: AFC championship: N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., Channel 2:
The Jets’ reality show rolls on, putting its best feet forward. Back on Dec. 19, Mark Sanchez directed a 22-17 win at Pittsburgh as Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers from their own 8 to New York’s 10 in the final 2:08, only to throw incomplete on the final two plays. Maybe it didn’t matter so much to the Steelers, who were told by the NFL nearly an hour after the game ended that they secured a playoff spot via a series of complicated strength-of-schedule tiebreakers.