THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
MLS CUP: Galaxy vs. Houston, Home Depot Center, Saturday at 1:30 p.m.,ESPN:
Nope, we probably haven’t seen the last of 37-year-old David Beckham. Not unless we stopped looking at billboards, TV ads or magazine covers. But his six years of staying power in Hollywood adjacent has given Major League Soccer a major boost that will end today as he calls it a career playing in his third and final MLS Cup game in the last four seasons with the Galaxy. In this 17th edition of the league championship – and they said it wouldn’t last — the fifth seed from the Western Conference is looking for a sequel to its title moment from a year ago, when it outlasted these same Houstonians, 1-0, on the Carson pitch.
Becks gets the showy sendoff, but it’s really been Robbie Keane’s show during this playoff run, with his five goals. Landon Donovan is expected back from hamstring soreness. Houston came all the way from a fourth-seed in the East to scramble back into title contention, without much fanfare. “I don’t think we’re the prettiest of teams,” Houston manager Dominic Kinnear said of his undynamic Dynamo squad that has been to four MLS Cups in the first seven years of its existence. “We’re not glamorous. We don’t hoot and holler and talk about ourselves too much. We just go about our way.” Yeah, kinda like Beckham.
THE BEST OF THE REST
NFL Week 12:
Carolina at Philadelphia, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Is this really the end for Andy Reid? Read into this however you wish. The 2-8 Panthers, who have the worst record in the conference are favored by three on the road. The 3-7 Eagles have lost six straight and will be without Michael Vick amd LeSean McCoy because of concussions. They can go O-for-October and November for the first time in coach Reid’s 14-year tenure
NBA: Lakers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
During an OT win over New Orleans the other night, Indiana’s Paul George, the second-year small forward out of Fresno State and a member of the Daily News’ 2007-08 All-Area Boys’ basketball team from Knight High in Palmdale, eclipsed Reggie Miller’s franchise record with nine 3-pointers in one game and scored a career best 37 points. In the same game, Roy Hibbert had a triple-double — 10 points, 11 rebounds and a career-best 11 blocks. After taking on the Pacers, the Lakers’ three-game homestand includes Denver (Friday, 7:30 p.m., TWC, ESPN) and Dwight Howard’s old team, Orlando (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., TWC).
NBA: Clippers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Three in a row at home for the Clippers, after losing three in a row on the road, started with New Orleans (Monday, 7:30 p.m., Prime) and will end with Sacramento (Saturday, 7:30 p.m, Prime). In between are the T-Wolves, who would love to have snapped their five-game losing streak in Sacramento the night before their visit to L.A. That may depend on the health of Kevin Love, coming back early from a broken hand suffered in the exhibition schedule and managing to average 24 points and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes in the first three games of his return. “(I’m) not too close (to 100 percent),” the former UCLA star said recently. “Still got a ways to go conditioning wise, still need to get my legs, and my hand back, too. The ball just doesn’t feel right in my hand yet.”
College basketball: UCLA vs. Cal State Northridge, Pauley Pavilion, 9 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
The Matadors could have been the only Division I team with a 7-0 mark at this point if not for a loss at BYU last Saturday, where Stephan Hicks had a 25-point game. CSUN is 36th in the country in scoring (79.3 a game) despite shooting 44 percent from the field. UCLA is right behind them at 79.2.
NFL Week 13: New Orleans at Atlanta, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:
The Falcons (10-1) have kept pace with Houston for the league’s best regular-season record. For whatever that will get them once the playoffs start.
College football: Louisville at Rutgers, 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
This decides bragging rights in the Big East. For whomever is left to brag to.
College football: Pac-12 Championship — UCLA at Stanford, 5 p.m., Channel 11:
Are the Bruins thankful they’ve matched up against these Cardinal again, or would they rather have had a shot at Oregon’s Ducks for the second year in a row in the conference title game? Doesn’t matter now. UCLA had a say in who its opponent would be, and by virtue of a 35-17 loss to the Cardinal at the Rose Bowl last week, the rematch in Palo Alto is on. “I expect them to give us everything,” said Stanford coach David Shaw of the Bruins. “It’s going to be 10 times harder than this game was.” Cardinal redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan, will make his fourth start in this rematch, has guided his team to wins over three straight ranked opponents, something the team had never accomplished before.
Tennis: Championships Cup — John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang, Honda Center, 7:30 p.m.:
The finale of a 12-stop annual country-wide geezer event where the stars of yesteryear play in a pretend tournament. It’s McEnroe vs. Agassi in one semi, playing the winner of Courier-Chang in the 9 p.m. final (first one to eight wins). Tickets start at $49 on the upper level and go up to $290-plus if you want some VIP treatment. And sorry, if you wanted to see Pete Sampras, who dominated this event last year — he bailed out in early November, after the sixth stop.
College football: MAC championship: Northern Illinois at Kent State, 4 p.m., ESPN2:
Yes, the 11-1 Golden Flashes of Kent State, and the 11-1 Huskies of Northern Illinois, are ranked one and two spots behind 9-3 UCLA in the new AP polls.
SEC championship: Alabama vs. Georgia in Atlanta, 1 p.m., Channel 2
ACC championship: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech in Charlotte, N.C., 5 p.m., ESPN
Big Ten championship: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin in Indianapolis, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11
Texas vs. Kansas State, 5 p.m., Channel 7
Oregon State vs. Nichols State, 11:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Oklahoma at TCU, 9 a.m., ESPN
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 9 a.m., FX:
Notre Dame’s final step in finishing off an undefeated season is figuring out who to prepare for while awaiting the outcome of the Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 in the ACC West) and the Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1 in the ACC East), who are Nos. 2 and 3 in the BCS standings. Granted, Florida (11-1, 7-1 in the ACC East) sits on the outside at No. 5 by virtue of a 17-9 loss to Georgia a month ago. That Texas-K-State matchup is for the Big 12 title, but it’s not the official conference championship game since they’ve gone two years in a row now without a designated title game. Miami’s self-imposed bowl ban excuses the Hurricanes (7-5, 5-3) from the ACC title game. Nebraska-Wisconsin is a rematch of the Cornhuskers’ 30-27 home win in September.
High school football:
CIF Southern Section Pac-5 championship: Mater Dei vs. Long Beach Poly, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Angel Stadium, FSW
CIF L.A. City Section championship: Crenshaw vs. Narbonne, Saturday, 7 p.m., East L.A. College:
Somehow, the Jackrabbits of Long Beach Poly (10-3) have recovered from a 1-3 start and being outscored 131-60 to face the rival Monarchs (11-2) for the Pac-5 title. Narbonne (13-0), which has already knocked off Poly and Mater Dei in the regular season, remains ranked No. 1 in the latest MaxPreps.com state poll, and No. 4 in the nation.
Golf: World Challenge, final round: Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Channel 4, noon:
Those stars on the world golf scene who didn’t compete in the Dubai World Championship last week are likely instead at the 14th annual event to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation, which has a new sponsor (wait, we’ll think of it in a minute), plus, the host has decided to return as the defending champ. Woods, if you recall, birdied the last two holes to overtake Zach Johnson for his fifth win in this tournament, and Johnson has decided to come back as well to be part of the field of 18, along with Masters champ Bubba Watson, U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, plus Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, and European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell. No one goes home unhappy – the last place finisher still gets $120,000. Golf Channel has the first two rounds; NBC has the final two (noon to 3 p.m.).
NFL Week 13:
Philadelphia at Dallas, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Cincinnati at San Diego, 1:25 p.m., Channel 2
Minnesota at Green Bay, 10 a.m., Channel 11:
Or will this be Andy Reid’s grand finale?
Water polo: NCAA championship, USC’s McDonald’s Swim Stadium, 3 p.m.:
Four-time defending champion USC has compiled a 27-0 record this season under coach Jovan Vavic, with his son, junior Nikola, leading the team in scoring again. UCLA (27-4) also made the final four as the at-large team, along with qualifiers Air Force and St. Francis. In last year’s title match, USC knocked off UCLA, 7-4. Saturday’s semifinals are at 1 and 3 p.m.