UPDATE: Monday, 9 a.m.:
How the week ahead plays out:
NBA REGULAR SEASON OPENER:
LAKERS vs. CLIPPERS, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT:
One could finish if not at the top of the Western Conference, then at least among the penthouse contenders, according to prognostications; the other is predictably more likely to miss the playoffs all together.
A titillated Clipper Nation, let’s introduce you to a dreaded Kobe-deficient Laker deflation, version 2013.
“There’s a huge gap between these two,” said Steve Kerr, the TNT analyst who grew up in L.A. “Not to say the Lakers aren’t compelling in their own right, but the Clippers have the chance to be something special. That’s just the way the NBA ebbs and flows – maybe not for the Clippers for a long time, which mostly had ebbs. But here we are now.”
Added Reggie Miller, another TNT analyst and Southern California native: “We’re talking now about the Clippers as if they are the Lakers. It’s astonishing. Without Kobe (Bryant) starting the season and not knowing when he’s going to be back, there is a lot of people jumping off the Laker bandwagon and getting on the Clippers bandwagon. I think the Lakers will be competitive, I don’t think they make the playoffs.
But it will be interesting with all the changes for the Clippers to see if this team is ready to take the next step. For them to take the next step, they have to compete for a championship. The Lakers pride themselves on championships. It’s all about those banners. That’s what separates the two. It’s about the mindset. I think Doc Rivers is bringing that championship mindset to a team that has underachieved for the last 20 or 30 years. We’ll see when the bright lights are on and you have to go out and beat the Spurs, Thunder and Warriors on a nightly basis, let’s see if this team can bring it like we know the Lakers have.”
Added Kerr: “And even if the Clippers do that, it’s still a Lakers town. I don’t think that will change.”
“Unless,” Miller countered, “(the Clippers) go out and sign Yasiel Puig right now.”
It’s a Lakers home game, so take a long look at those banners on the wall. They’ll be covered up with the two meet for a Clippers-designated home contest more than two months from now on Jan. 10 and April 6 (with a March 6 Laker home game in between).
BEST OF THE REST:
109th WORLD SERIES: ST. LOUIS vs. BOSTON
Game 5: at St. Louis, 5 p.m., Channel 11:
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester insists it was just a little rosin tucked away in his glove that helped get a grip on 7 2/3 scoreless innings during his Game 1 win. But why was it so green? “It looks like a giant booger, almost,” Lester admits. “I don’t know how that came about, with the lighting or whatever. . . . My next start, in Game 5, I’ll go out there and do the exact same thing and hopefully have the same outcome in the game.” MLB vice president Joe Torre said the Cardinals didn’t complain about it in Game 1, and “we will ask around, but without any complaint I don’t know what else you can say.” You could say that when things get dicey this time, would “The Cardinal Way” be for manager Mike Matheny to ask the umps to keep checking Lester’s glove every so often? With the series at a pivotal point again, why not?
Game 6: at Boston, Wednesday at 5 p.m., Channel 11
If necessary: Game 7: at Boston, Thursday at 5 p.m., Channel 11
NFL WEEK 8:
SEATTLE at ST. LOUIS, 5:40 p.m., ESPN:
The Seahawks are 11 1/2-point favorites, pretty hefty for a road team. Does that taken into account a) the Rams have no real replacement for Sam Bradford, and b) no one in St. Louis will be watching with the Cardinals playing a World Series home game not far away?
NBA SEASON OPENER: Chicago at Miami, 5 p.m., TNT:
After another ring ceremony for the Heat, complete with customized jerseys and warmups for the occasions, they’ll run with a Bulls team trying to get behind the return of Derrick Rose. Except Joakim Noah (strained groin) and Kirk Hinrich (concussion) may be missing from Chicago’s roster, although they say they’ll make it. And so far, Greg Oden hasn’t re-injured himself in any Heat pre-season exercising. But give him a few dunks during warmups here if you really are stuck on adding him to your fantasy roster.
NHL: KINGS at PHOENIX, 7 p.m., FSW:
If the Kings’ 6-4 puck-a-thon win over the Coyotes last week told us anything, it’s that a 4-0 lead isn’t safe even if Jonathan Quick is half-interested in preserving a shutout.
NHL: DUCKS at PHILADELPHIA, 4 p.m., Prime:
Four more road games to go before they’re allowed home. Take a flyer on this one, with the Flyers sporting one of the worst records so far in the Eastern Conference.
NBA: LAKERS at GOLDEN STATE, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
One of the four regional covers Sports Illustrated cranked out for its NBA preview is one with the Warriors’ Steph Curry with the headline: “The New Showtime,” claiming the Warriors are “more than entertainers — they’re true contenders.” But not enough to win the Western Conference in the magazine’s prediction — they’re picked to finish fifth, a notch above the Lakers.
NHL: KINGS vs. SAN JOSE, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Sharks shot to the top of the Pacific Division without dropping a regulation contest in their nine contests before losing 2-1 in Boston. This is the last of a five-game road trip for San Jose.
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. GOLDEN STATE, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
And if the season ended today … why wouldn’t these two meet in the first round of the playoffs?
NFL WEEK 9: CINCINNATI at MIAMI, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network:
Trick or treat, smell our feet, watch the 6-2 Bengals taste defeat. Because, obviously, Cincinnati comes in a Bengal costume, disguised as the AFC North leaders.
USC at OREGON STATE, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
The Beavers’ orange-and-black color scheme on the day after Halloween will be more than enough to put a fright in a Trojans’ roster that’s down to a skeleton crew. OSU quarterback Sean Mannion, the nation’s leader in yards passing and touchdown tosses, was 41 of 57 for 271 yards and one TD in an eight-point loss to No. 5 Stanford last week, but he was also sacked eight times. Beavers receiver Brandin Cooks, tops in the nation in receptions and yards, had nine catches for 80 yards and a TD. The 6-2 Beavers (4-1 in the Pac-12 North) fell out of the Top 25 but are already bowl bound. The 5-3 Trojans (2-2 in the Pac-12 South) need two wins in their last four games to qualify. If only OSU coach Mike Reilly (above) would finally uproot from Corvallis and perhaps show interest in the permanent USC head coach opening.
THE BREEDERS’ CUP Day 1, at Santa Anita, $2 million Distaff, 4:30 p.m., NBC SportsNet:
The best females at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt has Royal Delta, who won the last two years, is going for a third. The day includes the Marathon (1:45 p.m.), Juvenile Fillies Turf (2:25 p.m.), Dirt Mile (3:05 p.m.) and Juvenile Turf (3:50 p.m.).
NBA: LAKERS vs. SAN ANTONIO, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, TWC SportsNet:
And 37-year-old Tim Duncan refuses to leave. But there’s a reason why Gregg Popovich has won 1,038 coaching victories in his career (133 in the playoffs, with four NBA titles).
NBA: CLIPPERS at SACRAMENTO, 7 p.m., Prime:
It’s all relative for DeMarcus Cousins. Who else should first-year Kings coach Michael Malone surround him with to make fans want to shake their cowbells again?
UCLA vs. COLORADO, Rose Bowl, 4:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1:
The 3-4 Buffaloes (0-4 in the Pac-12 South) are a welcome breather for the beleaguered Bruins, coming off back-to-back losses to conference front-runners Stanford and Oregon. Colorado ranks 113th in the country (out of 123) in points allowed at 37.1 a game.
30th BREEDERS’ CUP, Day 2, at Santa Anita, $5 million Classic, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
Fort Larned has only one career start at Santa Anita among his 24 – and that was winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, leading from the start, fending off the favorites to win by a half length. He has just two wins in his five starts this year, but qualified with a challenge winner, as did Game On Dude, Mucho Macho Man and Ron the Greek. A seventh-place finish in last year’s Classic for Bob Baffert’s Game On Dude was simply baffling – he has seven wins in eight starts at Santa Anita, including two Santa Anita Handicaps. But the Joe Torre-co-owned 6-year-old, winner of the recent Pacific Classic at Del Mar and the Hollywood Gold Cup, should get the most betting attention again as a Horse of the Year favorite. The 1 ¼ mile Classic starts at 5:35 p.m.
Jim Rome’s Mizdirection, winner of the Turf Sprint last year and owner of 10 career wins in 16 starts with more than $1 million in earnings, returns to defend her title Saturday (2:05 p.m.) in that $1 million race down the hill on the grass.
The other races Saturday on NBC Sports Net: Juvenile Fillies (12:05 p.m.), Filly and Mare Turf (12:43 p.m.), Filly and Mare Sprint (1:21 p.m.), Turf Sprint (2:05 p.m.), Juvenile (2:45 p.m.), Turf (3:25 p.m.), Sprint (4:05 p.m.) and Mile (4:42 p.m.).
NHL: KINGS vs. NASHVILLE, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Slava Voynov was the only one who got it past Nashville goaltender Pekla Rinne in their previous meeting on Oct. 17, and the Kings still won thanks to a shootout.
MLS PLAYOFFS: GALAXY vs. REAL SALT LAKE, StubHub Center, 6 p.m., ESPN:
The kickballers from Carson avoided the one-game knockout contest with a tie at Seattle, meaning this home-and home Western Conference semifinal matchup against a team they won two of three from in the regular season is the the real deal from Utah, their first hurdle in getting to the MLS Cup for the third year in a row. They’ll meet again in Salt Lake City-adjacent facility next week to finish it off.
RUNNING: NEW YORK CITY MARATHON, 6 a.m., ESPN2:
This one last year was called off in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – mostly because those affected most by the devastation wouldn’t be able to be part of the cheering section along the route. And even though it’s been months since the Boston Marathon bombing, this one has to be overly cautious as well. The course starts in Staten Island and covers 26.2 miles through all five boroughs, finishing in Manhattan’s Central Park.
NFL WEEK 9:
INDIANAPOLIS at HOUSTON, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4:
SAN DIEGO at WASHINGTON, 10 a.m., Channel 2:
The NFL had to give the Broncos the week off at some point. Sorry it’s this one.
NBA: LAKERS vs. ATLANTA, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Hawks have another new coach, Mike Budenholzer. A long-time Spurs assistant. Played at Pomona College. Al Horford and Paul Millsap must be impressed.