(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, all on the court at the same time, during the second half of the Lakers’ 99-92 exhibition loss at Staples Center against Sacramento on Sunday.
Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve heading back into the work week:
1. “Godzilla took Tokyo. King Kong conquered New York. Los Angeles, Dwight Howard has arrived.” That was the lead by USA Today’s Adi Joseph on the news service’s blog post early Monday after the first D-Howard sighting in Laker gold of the season – yes, another exhibition loss. In 33 minutes, Howard scored 19 points (8-for-12 shooting), had 12 rebounds and four blocks. And five turnovers. And just 3-for-8 at the line. He hasn’t played in six months. He snatched an alley-oop pass from Steve Nash for his first points, and did another with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Check, check and check. And his back checked out OK. Now, about Antawn Jamison hitting a shot or two.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Dwight Howard, right, jokes with head coach Mike Brown prior to their exhibition game Sunday at Staples Center.
2. Was Matt Barkley really out of the Heisman conversation? If so, quarterback sneak him back in, no matter what is said by self-proclaimed Heisman blog specialists. The six TD performance against Colorado (yes, we know) put him back on the national radar as far as ESPN’s knee-jerkers were concerned. Seems that West Virginia’s Geno Smith picked a bad week to throw his first two picks of the season in a lopsided loss to Kansas State, led by their own trophy candidate, Collin Klein, and now No. 3 in the BCS poll. In Barkley’s favor going down the stretch: USC, which inched up to No. 9 in the poll (but only an average of No. 16 by the computers), gives him a chance to shine against Oregon and Notre Dame, both currently in the top 5. Klein doesn’t have that kind of marquee opponent the rest of the way.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood pulls away from the BYU defense in the second half of Saturday’s 17-14 win in South Bend, Ind.
3. Was Notre Dame really out of the national championships conversation? Perhaps, but not so much anymore. The Irish’s 17-15 win over BYU didn’t do a lot for style points, but it displayed the team’s tough mentality. Next question: Can the Irish offense put up enough points against the Oklahoma defense next week? Get past that, and it’s three easy pieces (Pitt, Boston College and Wake Forest) before it shows up at the Coliseum to play USC with a possible 11-0 record.
4. Would the San Francisco Giants have finished off the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series in fewer than seven games if they activated Melky Cabrera, the league batting champ (no matter what he or Bud Selig says) who is, by all rights, allowed to be added to the team’s roster? His replacement in left field, Gregor Blanco, is hitting just .212 in the postseason, and a meager .158 (3-for-19) in six games against the Cardinals. Cabrera, after serving a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, is persona-non-grata now in San Francisco – which is rich since, because of him, the Giants stand to have a home-field advantage in the World Series if they knock off St. Louis in tonight’s Game 7. The real benefactor of Cabrera’s absence: Pablo Sandoval (above) — aka, the “Come Through” Panda — moved up to the No. 3 spot, and hitting .320 this series, with two homers and five RBIs with one more left.
5. Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder calling ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steele his main squeeze is apparently a bigger deal than any of the state’s 10,000 lakes. He posted a tweet – then deleted it — confirming the relationship when a fan asked about it. When reporters started gathering around his locker after Friday’s practice, Ponder had to ponder his reasons for even letting the Steele out of the bag. “This is big news, huh? Good Lord.” Ponder is 24. Steele is 26. “I’m proud of the relationship,” added Ponder, who has been called “Mr. Steele” by his teammates now. “I can brag. I’ve got bragging rights, I believe.” Steele really can’t be bragging, though. Dating an athlete while working at a network . . . not a great career move. We’re not sure even Erin Andrews did that. Then again, we’ve seen Steele’s arm during a few “College GameDay” episodes. Ponder has something to worry about.