Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NBA: Lakers at New York, Thursday, 5 p.m., TNT; Lakers at Phoenix, Sunday, 3 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Does Mike D’Antoni really want to go there? The fans in New York (attention Spike Lee) and Phoenix might simply rejoice in watching the former coach of the Knicks and Suns struggle to find a compass with his new Laker team that isn’t even treading much around the .500 mark, or trending as anything worth paying attention to outside of the L.A. hand-wringing. They take a 2-6 road record out for a four-game run this week that begins in Cleveland (Tuesday, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet) and includes Washington (Friday, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet).
THE BEST OF THE REST …
NFL Week 14: Houston at New England, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Both have secured playoff spots. So what’s the big attraction? Oh, right. Home field. ESPN reports that 10,000 computer simulations of the remainder of the season by AccuScore give the Texans a 77 percent chance to win the No. 1 seed in the AFC; the Pats have a 20 percent chance. A Houston win here gives them a 99.9 percent shot.
NBA: Clippers at Chicago, 6:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime:
Bully for the Clippers: Here’s the first of a four-game road trip that includes stops in Charlotte (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., Prime) and Milwaukee (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Prime) before spilling into next week.
NBA: Dallas at Boston, 5 p.m.; San Antonio at Utah, 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
Jason Terry plays for the Celtics now, not the Mavs.
Volleyball: NCAA women’s semifinals in Seattle: Texas vs. Michigan, 4 p.m.; Penn State vs. Oregon, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
Strange, neither USC nor UCLA got this far? The Trojans lost in the regional final to the Longhorns on Texas’ home floor last week; the Bruins were knocked out in the second round against Michigan State. The winners of this final four play in Saturday’s championship at 4 p.m.
NFL Week 15: Cincinnati at Philadelphia, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:
The league can’t opt out of this one?
High school football: CIF State Finals — Division I: Long Beach Poly vs. Granite Bay, 8 p.m., Home Depot Center, Carson, TWC SportsNet:
Long Beach’s Jackrabbits, who started the season 1-3, have advanced all the way to the Div. I finale. In the 4 p.m. Div. IV game, it’s Central Catholic of Modesto against Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach.
High school football: CIF State Finals — Open Division: Centennial (Corona) vs. De La Salle (Concord), 8 p.m., Home Depot Center, Carson, TWC SportsNet:
Concord’s De La Salle, the perennial power in the state, has another shot at another title against the team that eliminated L.A. City champ Narbonne in the state regionals. In the Division II final, it’s Serra against Oakdale (4 p.m.) and in the Div. III final, Madison (San Diego) faces Marin Catholic (Kentfield) at noon.
College basketball: USC vs. UC Riverside, Galen Center, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network; UCLA vs. Prairie View A&M, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
A TV doubleheader that only the Pac-12 Network can appreciate, because it fills programming. You could just give the Trojans and Bruins the week off to recuperate from their past road trip horrors, but at least this should be a bit of a breather. In theory. You could also wait to watch No. 8 Arizona take on No. 5 Florida, two of the last 14 teams with unbeaten records (7 p.m., ESPN).
Soccer: U.S. Women’s national team vs. China, in Boca Raton, Fla., 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
This “Fan Tribute Tour,” a celebration of the team’s gold medal run at the 2012 London Olympics, started with an 8-0 win over Costa Rica on Sept. 1, included a 2-1 win over Australia at Home Depot Center in Carson on Sept. 16 and it ends here at Florida Atlantic University for the gang led by Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Heather Mitts and Amy Rodriguez. Team USA is 26-1-3 in 2012.
College football: New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, NM: Arizona vs. Nevada, 10 a.m., ESPN; Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise, ID: Utah State vs. Toledo, 1:30 p.m., ESPN:
You’ve got to start this process somewhere, so two of the first 70 teams to make the postseason will be eliminated. Not a moment too soon.
NFL Week 15: San Francisco at New England, at 5:20 p.m., Channel 4; Carolina at San Diego, 1 p.m., Channel 11; Pittsburgh at Dallas, 1:25 p.m, Channel 2; Indianapolis at Houston, Sunday at 10 a.m., Channel 2:
Because we can’t get enough of Tom Brady in prime time this week.