Play It Forward: May 21-27 on your sports calendar

UPDATED: TUESDAY MAY 22, noon:

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

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AP photos by Mark J. Terrill
Lakers forward Pau Gasol and center Andrew Bynum react to a call in the second half of Saturday’s Game 4 loss. The Thunder won 103-100.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

NBA Western Conference semifinals: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City:
Game 5: Monday in Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m., TNT.

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Is it too much to ask for the Lakers’ traveling circus to put on a couple more performances before this already tweaked-up season officially ends? They’ve found very entertaining ways to lose every which way possible to the Thunder in the first four meetings, so at least you get your TV money’s worth. Sure, they could be the ones with a 3-1 series lead and in a close-out situation. But that would require Kobe Bryant’s fourth-quarter shooting percentage to improve, as well as his coaxing abilities to get Pau Gasol more involved. A comeback wouldn’t necessarily be anything of epic proportions, but, considering the birth certificates, it’d be one for the ages. Sit tight, take hold, Thunder road.

MONDAY

MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 6:40 p.m., Prime:

Chris Capuano (5-1, 2.34 ERA), tonight’s Dodgers starter, is just 1-4 lifetime with a 4.14 ERA lifetime against Arizona in six starts. The series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. on Channel 9, after the two teams split their two-game series a week ago in L.A.

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MLB: Angels at Oakland, 7:05 p.m., FSW:

Manny Ramirez is supposed to join the A’s, but not until the end of the month. By which point, he’ll have served out another PED suspension, and perhaps given up on trying to come back at age 40. You can still try to keep foolin’ ‘em. These two AL West rivals also meet Tuesday (7:05 p.m., FSW) and Wednesday (12:35 p.m., FSW)

NHL Eastern Conference finals Game 4: N.Y. Rangers at New Jersey, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

Rangers coach John Tortorella, when he isn’t keeping things in the room, is ripping the Devils for acting devilish on selling penalty calls and skirting the rules. Wait’ll he runs into the Kings in the next round. New York can put this series away with wins today and in Game 5 back in New York on Wednesday (5 p.m., NBC Sports Network). The Stanley Cup finals could start at early as Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Or, not until the middle of next week.

NBA Eastern Conference semifinals Game 5: Philadelphia at Boston, 4 p.m., TNT:

With this series tied at two, “it’s a swing game, but it’s a swing game for both teams,” Boston coach Doc Rivers says. “Game 5s and Game 7s are pretty much the same.” No, not really.

TUESDAY

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(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, center, flanked by teammates Trevor Lewis and Jonathan Bernier, has to watch the final minutes of Game 4 tick off while he came off the ice for an extra attacker Sunday. The Coyotes won, 2-0.

NHL Western Conference finals Game 5: Kings at Phoenix, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

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It’s May sweeps in the TV world, but not again for this Kings’ mini-series. Look how spoiled you can get. “That was Coyote hockey,” said Phoenix forward Ray Whitney after Phoenix’s 2-0 Game 4 win at Staples Center. “A lot of effort, a lot of blocked shots, and some timely goals by Shane Doan. And, of course, Smitty (Mike Smith) in the net. That’s kind of the equation for us. When you have nothing to lose you throw it all out there and you see what happens.” The Kings’ generosity in Game 4 affords them the option to go where they’re much more comfortable — on the road, where they’ve won seven straight in the post season. If needed, Game 6 is at Staples Center (Thursday, 6 p.m.) with Game 7 in Phoenix (Saturday, 5 p.m.), both on NBC Sports Network. “We are still in a good position,” the Kings’ Anze Kopitar said. “That’s why we have to hit the reset button, refocus and make sure we have a lot of energy for Tuesday.”

WNBA: Sparks vs. Seattle, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV:

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The original home opener that was supposed to be played Sunday night is bumped to this date because, well, the team is very accomodating. The Sparks stormed back to win their season opener against the Storm on Friday night.

Seattle Storm’s Ann Wauters, left, tries to keep the ball from the Sparks’ DeLisha Milton-Jones in the first half of a WNBA opener last Friday in Seattle.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

WEDNESDAY

MLS: Galaxy vs. San Jose, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:

David Beckham celebrated the Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to Chivas last Saturday by bringing the family out to the Kings’ Game 4 playoff game against Phoenix on Sunday. Five non-wins in a row will force you to attend other team’s games where victories are almost nearly certain.

MLB: Washington at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., ESPN2:

Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels faces rookie Bryce Harper again. If you need any reference point to this … you haven’t been paying attention. Why not read the new John Grisham novel, “Calico Joe,” and see if there’s any correlation. ESPN sends analysts Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Mulder and reporter Pedro Gomez to join Dave O’Brien on the call. Just in case.

THURSDAY

MLB: Angels at Seattle, 7:10 p.m., FSW:

A Chone Figgins update: He’s hitting just .180 with as many homers (2) as stolen bases. Do the Angels want him back? The teams also go at it Friday (7:10 p.m., FSW), Saturday (4:15 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (1:10 p.m., FSW). Saturday is a turn-back-the-clock promotion, where the Angels will wear their old Pacific Coast League uniforms while the Mariners wear Seattle Rainiers duds. How rustic. Eddie Bauer should sponsor it.

FRIDAY

MLB: Dodgers vs. Houston, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 1.90) goes for back-to-back shutouts in the opener, but the highlight of the weekend series might be the fact you can bring your dog to the park on Saturday (6:10 p.m., Prime). No reflection on the opposing team. Probably. Or the IR-bound Juan Uribe. Dodger Dogs can be consumed in moderation as well for the finale (Sunday, 1:10 p.m., Prime).

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College baseball: USC at UCLA, Jackie Robinson Stadium, 6 p.m.:

It’s strange, but their only previous meeting was a 7-2 Bruins’ victory in the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium, when both were ranked in the top 25. USC, which finally ended a nine-game losing streak last weekend, has dropped below .500 and can’t even think about the post season, so this three-game road series will end the year (they also play Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.). The Bruins, who had won nine of 10 going into last Sunday’s game at Cal, are likely headed to the regionals June 1-4, which could lead to the super regionals (June 8-11) and College World Series (June 15-26).

SATURDAY

MLS: Galaxy at Houston, 11:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network:

They’re the two teams that made it to the finals a year ago. Don’t bank on a repeat.

SUNDAY

Motor sports: Indianapolis 500, 8 a.m., Channel 7:

The 96th running of the world’s most famous auto race will go without 81-year-old Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” – Gomer is on the DL needing heart surgery soon. We’ll power through with Long Beach Grand Prix champ Will Power going after his fourth straight IRL victory, starting from the No. 5 spot behind pole sitter Ryan Briscoe. He has a commanding lead in the IRL standings with 180 points and he’s collected 15 career victories — but no bottle of milk yet at the Indianapolis finish line. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is second in the standings with 135 points.

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JR Hildebrand (right), who as a rookie last year was one last turn away from an Indy 500 win before he hit the wall and slid across the finish line second, is tied for seventh with 83 points, with Ashley Judd’s husband, Dario Franchitti, who won the race two years ago, limping in at 10th with 82 points. Tragically, the defending champion won’t be back. Dan Wheldon won the race in 2011 — his second after doing it before in 2005 — but it was the final win of his racing career, as he was killed in the final IRL race of the season in Las Vegas.

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NASCAR: Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway, 2:30 p.m., Channel 11:

Kevin Harvick ended up winning last year when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas a half-mile from the finish line and coasted across in seventh place. They ended up running 402 laps and 603 miles — the longest event in NASCAR history.

Tennis: French Open, first rounds, 2 a.m.; ESPN2; 7 a.m., Tennis Channel, 9 a.m. (delayed), Channel 4:

Maria Sharapova will start as the women’s favorite, even though she’s never won this Grand Slam event. She toppedreigning Roland Garros champion Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the Italian Open last week when play was twice interrupted by rain and the red clay turned to mud. The women’s and men’s finals would be in two weeks.

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  • http://crzblue.mlblogs.com Emma

    Tom,
    LOL on the reference to Dogs & Dodger dogs. You could have included Monday since is Memorial Day AND is $1 Dodger Dog Day.
    -Emma