Play it Forward Feb. 3-9 on your sports calendar: To Russia, with the love of Putin’s gold

How the week shapes up:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

130918142118-sochi-2014-logo-story-topXXII WINTER OLYMPICS: OPENING CEREMONIES
at Sochi, Russia; Friday at 7:30 p.m. Channel 4 (delayed):
100218white--126648839199596100Who you may recognize some of them already: snowboarder Shaun White (with shorter red hair, right), skiers Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, giant slalom racer Julia Mancuso, speed skater Shauni Davis, bobsledder Lolo Jones and members of the Kings – Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown – who are suiting up Team USA in men’s hockey.
140129111027-mikaela-shiffrin-si-cover-sochi-olympics-preview-single-image-cut-270x359There’ll be some more that you’ll most likely know better by the time this is over: figure skaters Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner, Alpine skier Mikaela Shriffrin (left), luge racer Kate Hansen and ski jumper Lindsay Van — not to be confused with heralded but injured skier Lindsey Vonn. That’s a small sample of the 230 U.S. athletes competing this time in Sochi – not even including the seven sets of siblings who’ll be there with American passports.
The time difference may appear to be a little screwy, but it’s actually pretty easy to keep track: Whatever time it is in L.A., flip it. Meaning, 8 p.m. here is 8 a.m. there, the next morning. It also means that whatever you’re watching in prime time on Channel 4 is likely more than 12 hours old – so unless you’ve closed yourself off to the Internet, social media or any other news services, you’re going to be in that time warp experience for the next couple of weeks.
2014-sochi-winter-olympic-medal-meteorite-designboom-02In fact, the first full day of NBC prime-time coverage actually starts before the Opening Ceremonies on Thursday (8-to-11 p.m.) with coverage of White in the new sport of snowboard slopestyle as well as team figure skating. Right after the opening ceremonies, U.S. women’s hockey makes its first appearance vs. Finland at midnight late Friday on NBC SportsNet. That’s followed by NBC’s first two weekend nights of prime-time coverage Saturday (8-to-11:30 p.m.) and Sunday (7-to-11 p.m.) that has more figure skating, snowboarding, freestyle skiing and Alpine Skiing. In all, participants from more than 80 nations will be trying to collect the 98 gold medals awarded in Sochi, with much of it to be viewed live overnight on NBC SportsNet through Feb. 23.

BEST OF THE REST

MONDAY

kings_blackhawksNHL: KINGS vs. CHICAGO
Staples Center,  7:30 p.m., FSW:
They’ve lost eight of their last nine. They’ve got just two goals in their last six contests — one of them, providing that lone win since Jan. 18. If that’s not enough, the Kings have already lost twice against the Blackhawks this season – 3-1 on Dec. 15 and 1-0 on Dec. 30. Both were in Chicago, and without Jonathan Quick in the nets because of his injury absence. Then again, the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks did OK with Antti Raanta in goal instead of No. 1 tender Corey Crawford during that last confrontation. Crawford’s 20-8-10 record this season includes a tough shootout loss in his last outing against San Jose. Chicago, which leads the league in goal per game (3.4), face a Kings’ defense that somehow still leads the league in fewest goals given up (2.1).

NBA: CLIPPERS at DENVER, 6 p.m., Prime Ticket:
These two haven’t met yet this year in the Mile High City. Will there be a Super Bowl hangover?

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 50TH ANNIVERSARY SWIMSUIT SPECIAL
9 p.m., Channel 4:
As a way to temp the buying audience into waiting a little while long before the actual issues comes out Feb. 18, this two-hour “special” trots out Heidi Klum, Kate Upton, Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley and Marissa Miller, with some singing provided by Tim McGraw, Enrique Iglesias and John Legend. Think of this as NBC’s answer to the CBS Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

TUESDAY

NBA: LAKERS at MINNESOTA, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Yes, the Lakers somehow rattled off a 13-point win against the Wolves at Staples Center on Dec. 20, even though Kevin Love had 25 points and 13 rebounds. And three assists. And one block. The Lakers still think Steve Nash and Steve Blake could come back for this one.

WEDNESDAY

NBA: CLIPPERS vs. MIAMI
Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime Ticket:
lebron_james_blake_griffin
A year ago at this very point in the season, the Heat sported a 29-14 record — then proceeded to rip off 27 wins in a row, heading into the playoffs on a 37-2 run. This season, the two-time NBA champs are in in about the same position at 33-13 after a win in New York on Saturday. Do you really see two-dozen-plus consecutive victories in their future? Not with Dwayne Wade’s knees, or LeBron James’ energy levels in question, and certainly not after the ugliness of last week’s home loss against  Oklahoma City. The schedule makers give the Heat more marquee matchups in the second half — it’s for better TV — so it’s on them to see if they can repeat what they did to the Clippers on Nov. 7. That was a five-point win at Staples Center as Wade scored 11 of his game-high 29 in the fourth quarter to make up for an ailing James (18 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds), while Blake Griffin had 27 for the Clips.

NBA: LAKERS at CLEVELAND, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Cavs coach Mike Brown has the decision: Allow the Lakers (his former employer) to do a morning walk-through on his home court? Why not.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
ESPNU (5 a.m.), CBS Sports Net (7 a.m.), Prime Ticket (1 p.m.) and Pac-12 Network:
7b26a805a11e62a4dbeb4f8446fa9434ad564ca6Gardena Serra High five-star cornerback/receiver Adoree’ Jackson remains the national’s top uncommitted football recruit. The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder out of Illinois says it could be USC. Or UCLA. Florida and LSU also are in the mix. When he officially commits on national TV (slotted to announce at 11:05 a.m. on ESPNU) to where he plans to go next, the Trojans may let go the biggest sigh of relief. For what it’s worth, Serra star quarterback Jalen Greene has already said he’s going to USC, where previous Serra standout receivers Robert Woods, Marqis Lee and George Farmer also recently ended up. USC, still handcuffed by NCAA sanctions with limited signings, is also waiting to hear officially from five-star athlete John “Juju” Smith (Long Beach Poly) and four-star offensive lineman Damien Mama (Bellflower St. John Bosco).

THURSDAY

NHL: KINGS vs. COLUMBUS, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Time to knock off for the Winter Olympics after this. At least try to get something worth calling momentum for the return in 20 days.

DRAG RACING: NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Fairplex, first day of qualifying:
courtneydexThe 54th edition of this season-opener brings Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) back to start defense of their 2013 titles. The latest twist is that instead of three days of qualifying for elite Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, there will only be two, on Friday and Saturday, each day at 1 and 4 p.m. Qualifying rounds in Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.; ESPN2 has delayed coverage at 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

NBA: CLIPPERS vs. TORONTO
Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Terrence Ross stupidly had 51 points against the Clippers in their last meeting in Toronto — 16 of 29 shooting, 10-for-17 from 3 point land. After that game, he had games of 10, 12, 18 and 8. Add it up. As Ross’ season stats bear out, he’s still averaging just 10.1 points a game, and 8.0 for his career.

NBA: LAKERS at PHILADELPHIA
4 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Another Kobe Bryant homecoming visit. At least it won’t affect his performance on the court.

SATURDAY

UCLA's Bryce Alford, left, steals the ball from USC's Julian Jocobs, right, during the first half of their meeting on Jan. 5 at Pauley Pavilion.  (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

UCLA’s Bryce Alford, left, steals the ball from USC’s Julian Jocobs, right, during the first half of their meeting on Jan. 5 at Pauley Pavilion. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA at USC
Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
“Just like football,” the Bruins fans chanted toward the end of UCLA’s 35-point victory over the Trojans in their previous meeting that opened the Pac-12 schedule a month ago. Nah, this was actually worse if you want to get technical, since the Bruins registered a 35-14 win at the Coliseum against the Trojans at the end of October that was just a little bit closer. Or at least seemed to be. UCLA’s 107 points at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 5 tied for the most ever scored against USC and the Bruins also had a 56-34 advantage at the half, equaling their greatest first-half point total this season. Meanwhile, UCLA and USC women face off at Galen Center as well Saturday (3 p.m., Pac-12 Net).

MONSTER JAM: Angel Stadium, 7 p.m.:
All we know about it is from what we saw during a Super Bowl pregame show ad: A guy named Dennis Anderson will be there in his car known as Grave Digger, as well another gentleman named Tom Meents in his auto known as Max-D. Noise will ensue. Gates open at 5 p.m. Drinking starts much earlier. More info here.

SUNDAY

NBA: LAKERS vs. CHICAGO
Staples Center, 12:30 p.m. Channel 7:
If the networks could readjust their TV schedule, you’d likely find another set of teams in his prime Sunday afternoon spot (following a New York-Oklahoma City matchup). But this is what we’re left with. No Bull. And all the more likely no Kobe.

NBA: CLIPPERS vs. PHILADELPHIA
Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
Loud whispers are this is when Chris Paul will come back from his separated right shoulder, with enough time to see if he can make it for the Feb. 16 All-Star Game in New Orleans. Coming into this week, the Clippers are 12-3 without Paul since his Jan. 3 injury.

snedeker-brandt-020813-640x360_0PGA: AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
At Pebble Beach, final round, Channel 2, noon:
With the increase of gray whale migration scooting up the California coast this winter, attention may be as much on the pounding Pacific Ocean surf as it is on the fairways on the Monterrey Peninsula. Brandt Snedeker had a whale of a tournament a year ago, winning it by going 19 under par (one off the AT&T record) and breaking the four-round low of 267 (66-68-68-65). Amateurs in the field are supposed to be include Wayne Gretzky, Ray Romano, Kid Rock, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Russell, Andy Roddick, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Chris O’Donnell, Andy Garcia, Condalessa Rice, Herm Edwards, Kenny G and Jeb Bush. No Bill Murray? Nope, he’s busy promoting the release of the new flick, “Monument Men.” Next week, the tour comes to Riviera Country Club. Golf Channel has the first rounds Thursday and Friday (noon), with CBS taking over the weekend.

PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS LIFTMASTER CHUTE OUT
65570_0_648x365At Honda Center, Anaheim, final rounds, Sunday at 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network
The stars of the show are the big bad bulls known as Bushwacker (left), Smackdown, Asteroid, Rango, Altercation, Buck Wild, Meat Hook, Train Wreck, White Lie and, appropriately enough for a visit to Anaheim, Mick E. Mouse. Who’s brave enough to climb above for at least seven seconds of fame? Competition begins at 8 p.m. Friday and 6:30 p.m. Saturday. More info: www.pbr.com

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