Trail Blazers at Lakers
NBC 8:30 PM Take a closer look at last week's cover of SI.
There's Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal with a determined visage
as he drives toward the hoop, displaying his tongue,
Jordan-style. An anonymous defender is committing a blatant
Hack-a-Shaq, a previously useful tactic against L.A. that hasn't
knocked the Lakers off stride this season. Winners of 17 of 18
through Sunday, Los Angeles (32-6) hosts this season's
silver-medal squad, Portland (28-9), in an unofficial ex-Bulls
reunion pitting Lakers coach Phil Jackson and guard Ron Harper
against Trail Blazers forward Scottie Pippen. Two nights later
the L.A. Express rolls into Utah (TBS, 8 p.m.).
Auburn at Tennessee
ESPN 9 PM Tigers coach Cliff Ellis understands that while Auburn
(15-1 through Sunday) is ranked No. 4, fans still are not
satisfied. "It's like only getting one piece of chicken," says
Ellis, "when you really wanted three or four." We hear you,
Cliff. How about when they forget to include the spork with the
mashed potatoes? SI's preseason top pick, Auburn has yet to
display their cock-of-the-walk swagger. Against the Vols (15-2,
No. 12) in Knoxville, Ellis's rooster--uh, roster--will be tested.
Maple Leafs at Red Wings
ESPN2 7:30 PM These Wings need no deicing. When Detroit staged
its SuperSkills competition last week, centers Darryl Laplante
and Sergei Fedorov circled the ice (in 13.59 and 13.68 seconds,
respectively) faster than any other NHL players this season.
Laplante sheepishly attributed his speed to childhood figure
skating lessons, adding with a frown, "I had to take piano
lessons, too." Tonight West power Detroit hosts Toronto, the most
exciting team in the East (page 74).
Australian Open Women's Final
ESPN 9:30 PM One gal pal's New Year's resolution: "All pretty all
the time." Another resolves: "More bacon." Suddenly, every woman
I know wants to be Kyra Sedgwick. Will the actress from Singles
watch--live from Melbourne!--the first women's Grand Slam final of
the century? At tournament's opening on Monday, top seed Martina
Hingis was resolved to win her fourth consecutive Aussie Open,
but No. 3 Serena Williams (whose older sis, Venus, pulled out,
citing tendinitis in her left wrist) hoped this would be her
first of two titles Down Under this year--the second coming next
September in the Olympics.
AFC and NFC Championship Games
CBS 12:35 PM; FOX 4:15 PM Entering the playoffs, announcers far
and wide proclaimed the Rams a "team of destiny." Then came the
Music City Miracle, and the Titans became the team of destiny.
The Buccaneers inherited the team-of-destiny mantle after Warrick
Dunn scooped up a fumble and ran for a crucial first down in the
fourth quarter last Saturday in Tampa Bay's 14-13 win over
Washington. It's as if the entire NFL postseason is a fate
accompli. Today, the Titans visit quarterback Mark Brunell
(above) and the Jaguars for the AFC crown; then the Bucs are
destined to play the domestanding Rams for the NFC championship.
On HBO's Real Sports (Monday, 10 p.m.), the SI/Real Sports
segment profiles Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett, who went
from high school to NBA All-Star without benefit of college. His
route isn't for everyone, as he tells interviewer Derek McGinty:
"You have to mature in situations that some guys are not ready
for."... On Sunday (5 p.m.), NBC's North Face Expeditions takes
a peek at the Tibetan peak Shishapangma, which is even more
difficult to scale than it is to say.... The best-of-nine-race
series between Italy's Prada Challenge and AmericaOne to
determine the America's Cup challenger launches on Monday at
10:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
ALL TIMES EASTERN. SCHEDULES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS