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Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NBA: Lakers vs. Orlando, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW, ESPN:
Welcome back to L.A., Dwight Howard. Would you like this locker next to Kobe’s? If the Magic center comes to the Lakers when he’s a free agent in the summer of ’12, will Shaq talk him out of it? Howard posted this on his Twitter account recently about his future: “I never said I wanted to leave . . . stop reading the rumors. It’s really stupid. And annoying to be honest. They tryna make something outta nothing I have another yr under my contract before I can sign.” Stan Van Gundy couldn’t make that any more clear.
NBA: Clippers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Prime:
The five-game roadie ends, and the Clips could still use some more tiger blood to get near a playoff spot – even one that these Grizzles seem to even be holding onto right now.
College basketball: Men’s NCAA tournament, first round in Dayton, Ohio: NC-Asheville vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 3:30 p.m.; Alabama-Birmingham vs. Clemson, 6 p.m., truTV:
Seriously, UAB? You don’t have to be a Harvard scholar to figure out 10 other teams that could be taking its place as the field of 68 tips off.
MLS: Galaxy at Seattle, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
Season No. 16 for the local kickballers, with an expanded 34-game season that runs until the end of October. Plus, the addition of one Juan Pablo Angel, a 13-goal scorer for the Red Bull last season, to step in for the departed Edson Buddle as the new sled dog for the pack led by David Beckham and Landon Donovan. It’s the final year of Becks’ five-year, $32-plus million contract, and the 35-year-old could just as easily make this his last go-around. Watch and see.
NHL: Kings at Nashville, 5 p.m., FSW:
To end the four-game road trip, don’t let it sound like a country-western song.
College basketball: Men’s NCAA tournament, first round in Dayton, Ohio: Alabama State vs. Texas-San Antonio, 3:30 p.m.; USC vs. Virginia Commonwealth, 6 p.m., truTV:
As long as the Trojans don’t have to face Rider, Bradley, TCU or Oregon, the reinstated Kevin O’Neill could have an easier path toward a meeting later on Friday against Georgetown in Chicago.
NBA: Clippers vs. Philadelphia, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Since Jan. 21, only the Chicago Bulls have posted a better record in the Eastern Conference than the Sixers. Thanks to Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand.
NHL: Ducks vs. St. Louis, Honda Center, 7 p.m., FSW:
Last meeting: Blue scored nine goals on the Ducks’ Curtis McElhinney and rookie Timo Pielmeier.
College basketball: Men’s NCAA tournament, second round in Tampa Bay: UCLA vs. Michigan State, approx. 6:30 p.m. TBS:
A meeting of the March Madness minds: Can Ben Howland refocus his Bruins after their lethargic Pac-10 tournament performance? Can Tom Izzo work his tournament magic and rally his three starting seniors to live up to preseason expectations? It’s a quirky meeting of star programs, all right. Consider the Spartans’ decline. In Week 3, they’re 2-0 and ranked sixth in the country, with six first-place votes. By Week 10, they’ve dropped out of the Top 25 all together. This day also includes San Diego State vs. Northern Colorado in Tucson, Ariz.. (approx. 1:30 p.m., TNT) and St. John’s vs. Gonzaga in Denver.
NHL: Kings vs. St. Louis, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
A fluke-ish goal by the Blues’ Erik Johnson in the third period resulted in a 2-1 Kings’ loss back in January.
College basketball: Men’s NCAA Tournament, 16 second-round games include Arizona vs. Memphis in Tulsa, Okla., approx. 11:45 a.m., Channel 2 and Washington vs. Georgia in Charlotte, N.C, approx. 6:45 p.m., Channel 2:
The Pac-10 reps who met in the conference tournament final share the day. Here’s a quirk: Steve Kerr, the former Wildcats star guard, will call Arizona’s game with Marv Albert.
NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Sorry if you invested three grand in courtside seats for this one.
NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Prelude to the home-and-home series on April 8-9 that will end the regular season and likely determine which of them – or neither – make the Western Conference’s final eight. The Kings have won the last two of the previous three meetings this season.
MLS: Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.:
One of the Goats’ preseason losses was to UCLA, 2-1, on their home turf. That came after another loss to Canada’s under-23 national team. Are they ready to play games for real, against the team that used by known as the Kansas City Wizards?
NBA: Clippers vs. Cleveland, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime:
These bunch of losers not only aren’t LeBron’s team any more, but they belong to Baron Davis. Dribble-drive that Kia back onto the court and see how that goes over.
College basketball: Men’s NCAA Tournament, third round, eight games, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. tipoffs, Channel 2, TNT and TBS:
Have you figure out how this new CBS-Turner system works yet? Or is it just easier to follow along on NCAA.com? You know, this round sure looks like the old second round.
NBA: Clippers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
Not a preview of the Western Conference semifinals, but conveniently located for all invited – just like the recent Pac-10 tournament.
MLS: Galaxy vs. New England, Home Depot Center, 5 p.m., Galavision:
First 15,000 for the home opener get a free magnet schedule. At least slap it on your forehead and see if it brings relief for migraine headaches.
NHL: Ducks vs. Calgary, Honda Center, 5 p.m., Prime:
Cam Fowler won it in OT for the Ducks in their last meeting in Calgary, after Teemu Selanne tied it with under 3 minutes to go in regulation.
College basketball: Men’s NCAA Tournament, third round, eight games, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. tipoffs, Channel 2, TNT, TBS and TruTV:
All is sweet for the 16 left after this day’s play, with four of them heading to Anaheim for a regional final.