Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Andrew Bynum grabs a rebound despite the presence of San Antonio’s Boris Diaw, left, and Danny Green in last Wednesday’s game in San Antonio.
NBA: Lakers vs. San Antonio: Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Staples Center, Prime, TNT; Friday at 6:30 p.m., in San Antonio, Channel 9:
There was about a second left on the shot clock when Matt Barnes threw a desperate pass across the court. Metta World Peace caught it and, flat footed, launched a 3-pointed set shot. Somehow, it went in, boosting the Lakers’ lead at San Antonio to 21 points with about 10 1/2 minutes left in the game. Kobe Bryant, in street clothes, stood up and laughed. In a game where “World Medal Peace” (that’s the name James Worthy insists on calling him during the LTV shows) hit 26 points, Andrew Bynum collected 30 rebounds, and the Lakers collected a ridiculously easy 98-84 victory, what kind of statement was made? Don’t ask Bynum. Asked after the game on the Lakers’ telecast, he was asked his opinion about doing something for this team that only George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor accomplished as a Laker. Bynum said: “Well, I shot the ball like (bleep) …” except that wasn’t bleeped out. By the time the regular season ends, the Lakers may not necessarily be the second-best team in the Western Conference — the Spurs should have that sewn up — but they’re not giving up so easily. Two more meetings between the two take place this week, with the prospects of Bryant actually participating this time, even though his tenosynovitis (fancy for a bad shin) kept him out of the last five games.
Running: Boston Marathon, 6:30 a.m., Universal Sports:
On Patriots’ Day, there’ll be 27,000 runners, plus Mitt Romney, on hand, while Thomas Gounley (above), a senior at the University of New Hampshire, has plans on running and juggling the entire way. Where does he think he is, L.A.?
MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
Moneyball this: The A’s are barely ahead of San Diego as the franchise with the lowest team payroll in all of baseball at $55.3 million. Still wanna bring Hatteberg off the bench, Beane boy? The Angels had to hustle back from a late-night appearance off Broadway at Yankee Stadium, fly all night, and hopefully are awake enough to start this four-game series, highlighted by an Albert Pujols bobblehead giveaway on Tuesday — yes, the team bent over backwards to get these things ordered about fourth months after signing him as a free agent. Every game of the series is at 7:05 p.m. on FSW.
NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Fasten your seat belts and flash back to last Wednesday: The Clippers scored a “stunning upset victory” over the Thunder (Ralph Lawler’s words) after Chris Paul made a daring layup with 8.8 seconds left, and then Kevin Durant missed on an off-balance, game-winning 3-point try in a 100-98 decision. “A game for the ages,” said Prime reporter Chris McGee. OK, boys, settle down. This is their last chance to measure themselves up against each other before a possible playoff encounter.
WNBA draft, 11 a.m., ESPN2:
Your Los Angeles Sparks have the top pick, but it won’t be Baylor 6-foot-8 all-everything
Brittney Griner. She announced before taking her team to a 40-0 mark and an NCAA title recently that he’s come back to school for her senior season and earn her degree in recreation. The WNBA requirement is already in place that a player must turn 22 during the year they are drafted, graduate from college or see their class finish its coursework during the three-month period following the draft. Or the player must be out of high school for four years. The top pick in the NBA may get $5 million dollars, the No. 1 pick in the WNBA makes about $48,000 — the real payoff is earning more than $1 million playing overseas.
MLB: Dodgers at Milwaukee, 5:10 p.m., Channel 9:
Enough beating up on the Padres and Pirates of the MLB world. The Dodgers take Matt Kemp’s six homers, 16 RBI and a .487 average in 10 games (all best in the NL so far) to see how they measure them up against the reigning MVP, Ryan Braun (.343. 1 HR, 4 RBI in nine games). The discussion about how Braun won the award, and Kemp didn’t, is bound to come up here at some point in the three-game series. Bob Costas said it the other day about whether the former Granada Hills High star can recover his reputation after having everything called into question with an oveturned postive drug test last off season: “Even if he is a model citizen and a model ballplayer for the next 10, 15 years, there’s always going to be somebody who’s going to recall this and make it a defining issue. But can he regain his standing nearly completely? Yeah, if everything goes well from this point on. He’s still a relatively young player, he’s a very likeable guy, and I think in his defense, he was fine in his defense until he threw the (drug) tester under the bus. That made no sense. … What Ryan could’ve said was, perhaps plausibly: ‘I have no idea how this test turned out the way it did. I tested negative many, many times before. As soon as I heard about it, I took another test. That came up negative. I never knowingly ingested anything. I have no idea how this happened, it’s an aberrant result.’ If he’d left it at that, given how articulate he is, how likeable he is, I think that would’ve been fine. When he went a step further with these kind of murky accusations — ‘We found out stuff about the tester’ and that sort of thing — I think that undermined his credibility. I don’t think many people believe just because Ryan Braun got off in this case on a technicality, that calls into question the validity of MLB’s program.”
NHL playoffs: Western Conference quarterfinals: Game 4: Kings vs. Vancouver, Staples Center, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Channel:
If you can’t find the game on your TV, try this: Come down to the arena, watch it across the street over at the ESPN Zone, and walk out as everyone else does when the game ends and pretend you were there. It works. Do we need a Game 5 back to Vancouver on Sunday (FSW)?
NBA: Lakers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9:
Kobe Bryant had his fifth 40-point game of the season in the Lakers’ 120-112 home win on April 1. He had 39 and 30 in their other two wins over the Warriors.
NBA: Clippers at Denver, 6 p.m., Channel 13:
Denver fans must still be thinking that getting rid of Nene was a no-no, especially when it was JaVale McGee in exchange for him. For the Clippers, four of their last five regular-season games are on the road, starting with this one, a place they lost by 21 in their last visit on Feb. 2.
NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
The Suns have won nine straight at home against the Clippers, dating to April 17, 2007.
MLB: Dodgers at Houston, 5:05 p.m., Prime:
New owner Jim Crane and new general manager Jeff Luhnow have a lot of work ahead for a team that’ll be in the NL just one more season before shooting over to balance out the AL. Who makes more cash on this Astros’ roster than first baseman Carlos Lee? No one. At $19 mil, he’s making himself almost one third of the $60.5 million opening day payroll. He eats the steaks, the rest of the team is on that Top Ramen diets. That’s how they roll in Houston. The one thing you do know about these Astros: Players who were at single-A Lancaster just a short time ago can step right in and contribute sooner rather than later. Except for Roger Clemens’ kid, Koby, trying to find his way back into the minors through the Blue Jays’ system. This series continues Saturday (4:05 p.m., Channel 9) and Sunday (11:05 a.m., Channel 9).
MLB: Angels vs. Baltimore, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
Whatever happened to Vlad Guerrero? He was accused of attacking a police officer after a fight broke out in a Dominican Republic disco last week, but no charges were filed. That’s how the former Angels star, nine-time All-Star and the 2004 AL MVP has been spending his time since he became a free agent after the Orioles let him go after last season (.290 in 145 games, 13 homers, 63 RBIs, 30 doubles). The series continues on FSW for Saturday (6:05 p.m.) and Sunday (12:35 p.m.)
MLS: Galaxy at Colorado, 6 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:
The Galaxy’s defense has been a bit messy since losing Omar Gonzalez, last year’s MLS defender of the year, with a torn ACL. They ended up starting rookie Tommy Meyer and newly-acquired David Junior Lopes in last week’s game against Portland, and they were suddenly down 1-0 (it could have been 2-0) before the Galaxy rallied for a 3-1 victory. A win today evens the MLS champs’ record to 3-3.
NBA: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Clippers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime:
It’s the last regular-season home game for each Staples Center tenant. Give Derek Fisher and Chris Kaman one more ovation, then send them on their way.
NASCAR: Sprint Cup STP 400 in Kansas City, Kan., 10 a.m., Channel 11:
Greg Biffle’s first win of the season in Texas last week puts him atop the Sprint Cup standings, with a two-time winner, Tony Stewart, sits in seventh. Brad Keselowski held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for his second career win here in last year’s race when it was held in June. Keselowski, who won at Bristol, Tenn., in March, is 15th in the standings.