What five things did we learn last weekend: Jan. 24-27

Kobe Bryant throws a pass and hits Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison in the mouth during the second half of Sunday’s Laker win at Staples Center.. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Just a little help staying ahead of the sports world learning curve heading back into the work week:

They’re going to say the Lakers have turned a corner, figured out all that’s been wrong, and have nothing but a clear path ahead toward finally pulling together this once-in-a-lifetime Hall of Fame squad on the same page. A win over Utah is one thing; smacking around OKC is more than OK. While Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook didn’t do their teams any favors with key misses down the stretch, the residual effect’s of the Lakers win over the team with the NBA’s best record seems to rest on a new distributor role for Kobe Bryant – back-to-back games with 14 assists, and two games straight where he’s had more assists than shot attempts. And he still had a team-best 21 points in the nine-point victory with former teammate Derek Fisher sitting courtside along with Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Matt Kemp and Vernon Wells. “It should build the confidence in that, if we play right, we all commit to the team first, we’re going to play good basketball,” said ABC game analyst Jeff Van Gundy – no, he’s not lobbying to be the next coach. “We’re going to have some great nights, and maybe some nights we lose, but we can’t question whether we should play unselfishly again.”

Proof of Chris Paul’s MVP status, not just on the Clippers but perhaps the whole league, shouldn’t be diminished just because the team finally snapped a miserable four-game losing streak Sunday night with him again missing because of a bruised kneecap. Out for four straight games and seven of the last nine, Paul’s time table for a return is up in the air, said coach Vinny Del Negro, whose team starts its eight-game Grammy trip now. Blake Griffin’s nine assists lead the Clippers in their 13-point win Sunday over a .500 Blazers team that’s 7-14 on the road.

Tiger Woods waits after finishing the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Sunday (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Before Tiger Woods goes red for the final 11 holes at Torrey Pines today, he may wake up today feeling Brandt Snedeker ready to drop in on his career win No. 75 like a hang glider over the San Diego coastline. “This is kinda surreal,” said CBS golf analyst David Feherty during the late-afternoon coverage, as Woods was waiting to hit his third-hole tee shot while watching the hang gliders jostle around over the green below. “People flying around in what looks like sleeping bags and the others look like (they’re in) some kind of a converted toilet seat.” Answered Jim Nantz: “It’s all in how you look at it, I guess.” Woods can’t flush away this six-stroke lead, can he? Snedeker is six holes ahead of him and running out of daylight. Win here, and it’s a good open for Tiger. He has won a major in five of the six seasons where he had a Farmers Insurance Open victory beforehand.

The musical group Train performs before the start of the NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu on Sunday (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

There are no replays, no challenges, no reviews in the NFL’s Pro Bowl. No, really? Because, it doesn’t matter. Just like the game itself, a 62-35 “win” by the NFC. The blue already had a 38-14lead over the red guys halfway through the third quarter Sunday when Matt Schaub calls a play in the huddle we can all hear, then he throws a 4-yard pass in the end zone to Josh Cribbs, who juggles it, has it roll away, and still celebrates that it’s ruled a touchdown. “We’re not gonna argue with it,” said NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels as the score was changed to 38-21, even though Cris Collinworth rightfully questioned the validity. And the vanity of such a game. The Associated Press reported that the game “was trending on Twitter in the United States early on, but quickly gave way to the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the WWE Royal Rumble.”  In the second quarter, referee Ed Hochuli drew cheers when announcing a pass interference penalty on Denver cornerback Champ Bailey in the second quarter. “Yes, there are penalties in the Pro Bowl,” Hochuli said over his PA system after the first flag was thrown.

Whenever Scott Pelley and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart get together for a “60 Minutes” chat, it’s never going to be a chippy day at  Camp Lance Armstrong. Tygart’s comeback to Armstrong’s two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey was to reveal that he, like former teammates, has been threatened in the past, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has been complicit in helping the former seven-time Tour de France winner cheat, and he believes the U.S. government should join in Floyd Landis’ whistle-blowing lawsuit.

Associated Press

Pelley also reported that Armstrong’s legal team has already told the show Armstrong won’t be able to meet a Feb. 6 deadline set by Tygart (right) to testify or forever face a lifetime ban. Armstrong, they say, is “more likely” going to tell his doping story to the UCI. How convenient. When does this Armstrong news cycle end?

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