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SPORTS DIGEST: Clippers face Warriors in key early season NBA action

LOS ANGELES — The NBA season is barely three weeks old, but there will be an important game Nov. 19 at Staples Center.

The Clippers host the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and TNT will be there to televise the game for all the nation to see.

The Warriors are the champions, the Clippers want to be champions and both teams dislike each other.

Golden State is 12-0 and already has people talking about the possibility of surpassing the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a season.

Steph Curry is still playing at a most valuable player level and his supporting cast has gotten better.

The Clippers are off to a 6-4 start and have been plagued by early-season injuries to starting guards Chris Paul and J.J. Reddick. Blake Griffin has been leading the Clippers, but they need more from off-season acquisitions Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson. Both are averaging just 5.6 points per game and have hit double figures only once.

Pierce is at the end of a great career that could land the former Inglewood High star in the Hall of Fame.

Stephenson is two years removed from a great year with the Indiana Pacers, but has done little since.

Former Laker Luke Walton is coaching the Warriors in the absence of Steve Kerr, who is recuperating from back surgery.

If the Clippers don’t win tonight, Golden State could run off to a 20-0 start or better. They face the Bulls Nov. 20 at home and then don’t face a team with a chance to make noise in the playoffs until the Tornto Raptors Dec. 5.

COLLISION COURSE: The USC-UCLA football game is always a must-see event and this year’s game Nov. 28 at the Coliseum should continue the tradition of the greatest crosstown rivalry in sports.

The game could determine who will represent the Pac 12 South in the Pac 12 championship game the following weekend in Santa Clara.

But that requires that both teams win this week, which is by no means a sure thing.

USC travels to Eugene, Oregon, to face Oregon, which is coming off its biggest win of the season, a 38-36 win over Stanford.

UCLA travels to Salt Lake City, Utah, to face Utah, which still has a shot at the South Division title as well.

Utah is coming off a tough loss after losing to Arizona 37-30 in double overtime.

UCLA also lost a tough one last week, falling to Washington State, 31-27 on a last-second touchdown pass. It looked like freshman quarterback sensation Josh Rosen had pulled out a comeback victory after a 37-yard touchdown scramble with less than two minutes to play gave the Bruins a 27-24 lead.

But the Bruins defense, decimated by injuries all year, couldn’t stop Washington State at the end.

USC struggled as well against Colorado, holding on for a 27-24 win over the 4-7 Buffaloes.

Unless all the teams at the top of the rankings go 1-2 over the next three weeks, it looks like UCLA and USC will be watching with us when the the college football playoff games are played Dec. 31.

Frank Mazzota
Frank Mazzota

PLAYOFF BOUND: Speaking of football playoffs, the Cerritos College football team is back in the Southern California Regional Playoffs for junior colleges for the first time since 2011.

The Falcons host Long Beach City College Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the Southern California Championship game Nov. 28 against the winner of the Riverside City College and Saddleback College game.

Cerritos opened the season with a 26-20 win over Saddleback.

The Falcons are still coached by Frank Mazzota, who is in his 38th year at the school. (Full disclosure: Mazzota was an assistant coach at El Rancho High School when I was a student there and the sports editor of the school paper when we were both much younger). He has compiled a 245-150-6 record in his tenure.

Oddly enough, Mazzota attended junior college at Long Beach City College, starring at tight end and leading the Vikings to the 1962 Potato Bowl championship and a national championship season.

He then transferred to the University of Utah, where he made all conference and played in the Liberty Bowl.

A BIG WIN: El Camino College Compton Center, the school we all know as Compton College got its first win on the football field in five years earlier this month. The Tartars scored a 24-7 victory at home against San Diego Mesa Nov. 7,

It was the Tartars first win since they defeated Antelope Valley, 13-7, on Sept. 25, 2010.

The Tartars were led by freshman quarterback Daniel Prieto (322 passing yards, three touchdowns, 0 interceptions), freshman running back Lavell Thompson (61 rushing yards, 21 catches for 176 yards, and two touchdowns), and sophomore safety Victor Williams (17 tackles, six solo, 2.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble, pass breakup).

Unfortunately, the Tartars lost Nov. 14 to Southwestern, 28-18, ending their season with a 1-9 record.

BASKETBALL MADNESS: Taking a page from some of the top college basketball programs, who conduct midnight madness practices on the first day they can hold practice, the Inglewood High School basketball team kicked off its season with a special intra-squad game Nov. 18 in the school gymnasium.

The two teams were coached by Inglewood Mayor James Butts and Inglewood High grad (and current Clipper) Paul Pierce.