Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher, right, talks with new teammate Nick Collison before his first game last Wednesday against the Clippers.
NBA: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT:
That Thunder down under will be coming from the OKC’s new 37-year-old point guard, wearing No. 37, who just might have enough incentive to prove to the L.A. crowd that the Lakers deserve a little payback for trading him away at the deadline two weeks ago to Houston, only to have the Rockets release him. Still, Derek Fisher’s return with the top team in the Western Conference couldn’t have been better timing. He may be Russell Westbrook’s backup now, but he’s front and center in the minds of those who saw him for 12 of his 16 NBA seasons and was part of five NBA championships — but deemed expendable by the current roster restrictions. Thunder coach Scott Brooks knows that the addition of Fisher to his young team goes beyond his average of 8.7 points and 3.1 assists a game, as he’s posted during his career. It’s more about the 209 playoff games and 13 postseason trips. “He has winner all over his DNA,” Brooks said. “You can never have enough winners in your locker room, and we have a locker room full of them. He just gives us one more winner.” Fisher also says he took No. 37 to send a message to anyone willing to read between the lines: “Especially, this season, it seemed to be a negative thing that I was 37,” Fisher said after his Thunder debut –five points in 19 minutes of a rout of the Clippers. “So I just wanted to send a message that the Thunder organization and I see it as a positive that I’m a guy that can still help a team be successful and compete for a championship at the age of 37.” Message received.
NBA: Clippers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Considering the body slam that Jason Smith put on Blake Griffin when the two teams met last week (a seven-point Hornets win), you gotta wonder if New Orleans has bounties out for certain players. Former Clip Chris Kaman had 20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in that N’Orleans victory.
NHL: Kings at Vancouver, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Kings and Jonathan Quick beat Roberto Luongo and the Canucks in a shootout back in mid January, and they’ve won two of the previous three meetings this season against the leaders of the Northwest Division, who’ve already secured their fourth straight division title. Vancouver doesn’t expected to have All-Star forward Daniel Sedin (far left, with brother Henrik) — he’s got a concussion. But the Canucks do have a 5-0-2 mark in their past seven regular-season home games against the Kings.
NFL: Tim Tebow arrives in New York press conference, ESPN, 9 a.m.:
“Why is he having a press conference,” the wife asks. “Don’t we already know he got traded to the Jets?” Well, yes, but … never mind. ESPN kept promoting it during its OKC-Miami game coverage on Sunday.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson dunks in front of New Orleans Hornets forward Jason Smith in a game at New Orleans last week.
NBA: Lakers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9:
Since the Warriors traded away Monta Ellis, rookie Klay Thompson has tried to pick up the scoring load, hitting a career-best 27 points in a win over New Orleans last week. The son of Lakers’ broadcaster Mychal Thompson is “a heck of a player, and he’s going to be that for a long time,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We love and respect Monta Ellis. Part of the reason that made the trade easier is because we had a guy behind him who was ready to play and perform.”
MLB: Oakland vs. Seattle from Tokyo, 6 a.m., MLB Network:
Ichiro makes another triumphant return to Japan for the first two games that count in the standings — including Thursday’s contest, which the MLB Network will put on delay (also replaying at 7 p.m. each night), using the Mariners’ home TV feed.
NBA: Clippers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Without Steve Nash and Grant Hill, the Suns still rallied from a 12-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Clippers by four at Staples Center in their last meeting on March 15. For what it’s worth: The Suns have beaten the Clippers in 13 of their last 14 meetings.
NHL: Kings at Calgary, 6:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
The Flames have won the last two encouters, including 1-0 on Feb. 18, but the Kings posted the 4-1 win at Calgary back on Jan. 14 in the game when Mike Cammalleri rejoined the Flames. That was Calgary’s first regulation loss to the Kings at home since Dec. 21, 2005 (10-1-1).
Golf: LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championships at Rancho Mirage, first round, 3:30 p.m., Golf Channel (delayed):
Stacy Lewis was the one who got to jump into Poppy’s Pond last year after winning this first women’s tour major — she (second from left) was joined by caddie Travis Wilson (far left), sister Janet (center), mother Carol (second from right) and father Dale. Find any water-logged Titleists down there? The final two rounds are live on Golf Channel (Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.)
Golf: PGA Shell Houston Open, first round, noon, Golf Channel:
Tiger Woods will make the most noise coming into this one. But then again, Phil Mickelson, coming off his 2010 Masters win, shot a 7-under 65 for a three-stroke win in the final round here a year ago, trying to sound a warning shot that he intended to defend his title at Augusta the next week. Eventual Masters champ Charl Schwartzel was 14 strokes back of Lefty, if that matters. The final two rounds are on NBC (Saturday and Sunday at noon on Channel 4)
College basketball: NIT championship, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Washington and Stanford, which couldn’t even make it to the final of the Pac-12’s championship game, could instead play for the 75th NIT title if each survives its semifinal challenge at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Huskies, who outsted Oregon in the quarterfinals, has to take on Minnesota while the Cardinal faces UMass on Tuesday (4 and 6 p.m., ESPN2). Meanwhile, in the College BasketbalI Invitational (yes, a real event), Washington State remains the other Pac-12 team alive, facing Pitt in the best-of-three series starting Monday, continuing Wednesday and possibly finishing Friday.
Movie: “Goon,” opens in theatres:
Get your arms around Seann William Scott, aka Stifler from the “American Pie” movies, as Doug “The Thug” Glatt, the enforcer for his semi-pro hockey team, and the price he pays to do his job.
NBA: Clippers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:
Portland’s Nicolas Batum scored 15 points in the first quarter against the Clippers last time they met on Feb. 17. He then scored four points the rest of the way in the Blazers’ 74-71 loss, where the Clippers won despite shooting 38 percent from the floor and 2-for-17 from 3-point range. Portland held an 18-point advantage early in the third period but scored just 28 second-half points.
NHL: Kings at Edmonton, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
When Ales Hemsky scored three goals in the Oilers’ 6-3 win at Nashville last week, it marked the fifth different Edmonton player to record a hat trick this season, following Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Oct. 15), Taylor Hall (Nov. 19), Ryan Jones (Nov. 19) and Sam Gagner (Feb. 2).
College basketball: Men’s Final Four at New Orleans, Kentucky vs. Louisville, 3 p.m., and Ohio State vs. Kansas, approx 5:45 p.m., Channel 2:
An eposide of CBS’ “Blue Bloods” has broken out, and it has nothing to do with Tom Selleck’s family solving crimes in Chicago. A couple of rematches may forshadow what’s happening here. Back on New Year’s Eve, then No. 3 Kentucky was Judd-irific as it topped then No. 4 Louisville 69-62, with 18-year-old freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scoring 24 points with 19 rebounds and fellow freshman Anthony Davis adding 18 points, all in the second half, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Russ Smith led the Cardinals with 30 points. And on Dec. 10, then No. 13 Kansas topped then No. 2 Ohio State 78-67 in Lawrence, Kan. Tyshawn Taylor had a career-high 13 assists despite a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his right knee for the Jayhawks, while the Buckeyes were missing Jared Sullinger, out with a back injury.
NBA: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., FSW; Clippers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Hornets, after playing the Clippers on Monday in L.A., had to go off to Golden State and Portland before coming back here for their matchup with the Lakers. And they’ll be back here one more time on April 9.
NHL: Kings at Minnesota, 5 p.m., FSW:
Jonathan Bernier blanked the Wild in Minnesota during the Kings’ last visit, 4-0, on Feb. 28. That may have been his las great accomplishment for the season.
MLS: Galaxy vs. New England, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
The third straight home game to start the season for the Galaxy, who’ve had two weeks off since their 3-1 win over D.C. United.
College basketball: Women’s Final Four in Denver, 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., ESPN:
Baylor’s Brittney Griner scores on a layup now, and it’s a bit anticlimatic. The top-seeded Bears (37-0) must get past Tennessee (27-8) in the Des Moines regional on Monday to get this far.
Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. Arizona in Glendale, Ariz., 1 p.m., Prime; Angels vs. Chicago Cubs in Tempe, Ariz., 1 p.m., FSW:
Warning to Juan Uribe: April Fool’s Day is a notorious one for managers to bring a player into his office and tell him he’s been released or traded. Although in Uribe’s case …
NBA: Lakers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
No April Fool’s: It’s more Groundhog Day, as they play again after already facing off against each other on Tuesday.
NASCAR: Sprint Cup Goody’s Fast Relief 500 from Martinsville, Va., 9:30 a.m., Channel 11:
Relief from the rain would be a start for Sprint Cuppers.