Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA at Washington, 11 a.m. Saturday, Channel 2:
In the last regular-season games before the Pac-12 Tournament in Vegas (March 13-16), the gamble is what Bruins team will show up. UCLA needed Larry Drew II’s jumper at the buzzer to outlast the Huskies during their first meeting on Feb. 7 at Pauley Pavilion – as Shabazz Muhammad stormed off the court because Drew didn’t pass him the ball. Drew had nine points, six assists and five steals in a team-high 36 minutes. Three days later, the Bruins had an easier time beating the Cougars for the eighth straight time and 16th of the last 17 meetings, 76-62. UCLA’s warmup for this is that nasty trip to Pullman, Wash., to face Washington State (6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Pac-12 Network). It’s followed by USC’s game at Washington (8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Pac-12 Network), with the revived Trojans knowing they held C.J. Wilcox scoreless in the second half and allowed him just eight points during a 71-60 home win over the Huskies on Feb. 11.
BEST OF THE REST:
NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m., Staples Center, FSW:
Considering the Kings sport a 5-1-1 home record, this stretch of five more in a row at Staples Center should keep Cartman stick-happy on the scoreboard. The Predators were the ones responsible for the Kings’ home shootout loss, an eight-rounder back on Jan. 31. After this, it’s visits from St. Louis (7:30 p.m. Tuesday, FSW), Dallas (7:30 p.m. Thursday, FSW) and Calgary (7 p.m. Saturday, FSW).
TENNIS: Los Angeles Tennis Challenge, 7 p.m., UCLA’s Pauley Pavlion, Tennis Channel:
With the L.A. ATP event evaporating – really? – this has tried to step in and establish a future, even if it’s just an exhibition at this point. Justin Gilbelstob and Mardy Fish are the hosts, with the competition including Novak Djokovic, Tommy Haas and James Blake. In singles, Haas faces Blake and world No. 1 Djokovic attempting to fry Fish. Then, it’s a doubles match as Djokovic is paired up with former Grand Slam champ Pete Sampras against Grand Slam doubles-winning Bob and Mike Bryan. It gives everyone a warmup for the ATP’s BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, which starts Wednesday and runs through March 17. Djokovic is a two-time winner at Indian Wells (2011 and ’08), upset by John Isner in the semifinals last year. “The buzz is certainly building for the first L.A. Tennis Challenge, and we are confident this is shaping up to be a premiere event on both the sports and social calendar in the years to come,” said Gimmelstob. More info: www.LATennisChallenge.com.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: USC spring practice opener:
My latest Sports Illustrated says spring football is the new March Madness, and devoted pages upon pages to what’s going on with Ohio State, some guy named Clowney, and Johnny Football. C’mon. The real interest is in who takes over for Matt Barkley at quarterback – Max Wittek, Cody Kessler or incoming freshman Max Browne, this Gatorade national high school player of the year who has enrolled early. Practice, of course, will be closed to spectators (those NCAA violations still are in force). Practice runs almost every other day through the middle of April (taking time for spring break later this month). They go Saturdays at the Coliseum on Saturday, March 16 and April 6), with the spring game finale at the Coliseum on Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).
NBA: Lakers at Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m., TNT:
How’s Derek Fisher looking these days? Fishing for compliments?
NBA: Lakers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Still, a back-to-back that could be a backbreaker. Hardly a big easy.
NBA: Clippers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
No question the Nuggets have that home-court thing figured out, and this will be the spot in the week when the Clippers are gasping for air on the second half of a back-to-back that starts with facing Milwaukee (7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Staples Center, Prime).
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Cal State Northridge vs. Hawaii, 7:30 p.m.:
The Matadors’ final home game confuses it a little. If they win, and UCSB loses its last two games, they’ll end up tied at 5-13 in the Big West for the No. 8 (and final) seed in the conference tournament. They each won one time against the other during the regular season. So who’d be served up to probable No. 1 seed Long Beach State in the first round? Let’s wait to see how it’s sorted out.
“MIKE TYSON: UNDISPUTED TRUTH,” 8 p.m, The Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.):
The Pantages gets outrageous with the former heavyweight champ of the world going four-letter words at a time describing his life story in a 90-minute, no intermission presentation. It’s a Spike Lee Joint, as well. Orchestra seats start at $32, and go up as high as $300 (a “ringside” seat plus a meet-and-great with the star) or north of $500 (all of the above, plus an autographed boxing glove). The 19-city tour started last weekend in San Francisco, hits San Diego’s Balboa Theatre on Tuesday and then the Grove in Anaheim on Wednesday (7 p.m.), with more shows at the Pantages on Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.). Of course, if you wait until May 13-18, 2014, you can see the run of Green Day’s “American Idiot” instead.
BASEBALL: World Baseball Classic: U.S. vs. Mexico, 6 p.m. Chase Field, Phoenix, MLB Network:
Joe Torre manages the Team American – heck yeah! — in Pool D, starting off against a Mexico team captained by the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, with Luis Cruz playing third base, and Gonzalez’ brother, Edgar, on the roster. The U.S. finishes the weekend facing Italy (6 p.m. Saturday) and Canada (1 p.m. Sunday). Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic squad, which includes the Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez, has Pool C games in the Dominican against Venezuela (Thursday), Spain (Saturday) and Puerto Rico (Sunday). The second-round games between Japan’s Pool A and Taiwan’s Pool B teams also starts Thursday. It all funnels into the championship in San Francisco on March 19.
NBA: Lakers vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The exchange rate for a victory is the same as if it was played in Canada, as Steve Nash recalls.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL:USC at Washington State, 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
The Trojans handled the Cougars, 72-68, as J.T. Terrell had all 12 of his points during a 10-minute stretch of the second half, including a 3-pointer that put USC up for good, 56-53 with 5:26 left.
HORSE RACING: San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita Park, first post, 1 p.m.:
In this Kentucky Derby prep, Creative Cause outlasted Bodemeister a year ago. Bodemeister then finished runner up at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
NBA: Lakers vs. Chicago, 12:30 p.m. Staples Center, Channel 7:
The problem here we see here is because of daylight savings time taking place earlier in the day, this one will feel like an 11:30 a.m. tipoff. At least to the fans. The back end to this is the Clippers’ home game against Detroit (6:30 p.m.), which will feel like … you do the math.