Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

NBA Today - November 21
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD Wednesday, Nov. 21

Dallas at Houston (7:30 p.m. EST). The Rockets have lost four straight since starting the season 6-1.

STARS Tuesday

-Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks, had a season-high 32 points, including four straight 3-pointers in the final 1:41 of the third quarter, and Dallas beat Toronto 105-99.

-Michael Redd, Bucks, scored a season-high 34 points to help Milwaukee get past Cleveland 111-107.

-Kobe Bryant, Lakers, poured in 32 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over Indiana 134-114.

-Baron Davis, Warriors, had 31 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Golden State trounced New York 108-82.

-Tony Parker, Spurs, scored 31 points and added nine assists to lead San Antonio to a 95-83 win over Atlanta.

BIG COMEBACK

Dallas overcame a 24-point deficit to beat Toronto 105-99 on Tuesday and improve to 6-0 at home. The comeback was Dallas' largest to win a game in regulation. The Mavericks also overcame a 24-point deficit against Toronto in February 2006, but won that game in overtime. The Raptors have never blown a bigger lead to lose, and now they've done it twice against the Mavericks.

LOSE SOME, WIN SOME


Washington completed a lose-five, win-five start to the season with a 116-101 rout of Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Wizards have their first five-game winning streak since Dec. 21-29. ... Golden State beat New York 108-82 for its third straight win following an 0-6 start.

STREAKING

The Los Angeles Lakers beat Indiana 134-114 on Tuesday for their fourth straight win. It was the Pacers' worst home defeat since a 24-point loss to New Jersey on March 4, 2001. Eight Lakers scored in double figures for first time since Nov. 26, 2003. ... Denver beat Chicago 112-91 for its sixth straight victory. ... Amare Stoudemire scored 26 points and had 13 rebounds to help Phoenix squeak by Sacramento 100-98 for its sixth straight win.

STRUGGLING

Golden State defeated New York 108-82 on Tuesday, sending the Knicks to their seventh straight loss. ... Philadelphia fell to Washington 116-101 for its fifth loss in six games. ... Denver beat Chicago 112-91, dropping the Bulls to 2-8, their worst start since 2004-05 when they were 0-9.

SNAPPED

Milwaukee ended a seven-game losing streak against Cleveland with its first road win this season, 111-107 over the Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Bucks hadn't beaten the Cavs since Dec. 10, 2005. They also snapped an eight-game losing streak in Cleveland, where they had been winless since Jan. 6, 2003.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Zach Randolph had 15 points and 16 rebounds for New York in a 108-82 loss to Golden State. Randolph has double-doubles in all seven games he's played in, the longest streak by a Knicks player since Charles Oakley had nine in a row to open the 1989-90 campaign. ... Daniel Gibson scored a career-high 26 points but Cleveland fell to Milwaukee 111-107. ... Chris Bosh had a season-high 31 points with 12 rebounds for Toronto in a 105-99 loss to Dallas. ... Ron Artest had a season-high 33 points but Sacramento lost to Phoenix 100-98.

TRADE

The Los Angeles Lakers traded forward Brian Cook and swingman Maurice Evans to Orlando on Tuesday for forward Trevor Ariza.

SIDELINED

Washington point guard Gilbert Arenas missed his second consecutive game on Tuesday, the latest setback in his recovery from a knee injury. ... Memphis rookie Mike Conley has been sidelined indefinitely with an injured right shoulder and placed on the inactive list. He will miss a minimum of two to three weeks.

HONORED

The Wizards will retire Earl Monroe's No. 10 jersey on Dec. 1, honoring the guard who played four full seasons with the Wizards' predecessors - the Baltimore Bullets - before he was traded to the New York Knicks in 1971. Monroe spent nearly nine seasons with the Knicks and won a championship in New York, but he opted to go into the Hall of Fame in 1990 in Bullets orange.

SPEAKING

''I'm getting me a blog. Y'all stay tuned. Coming to a town near y'all, I'm getting my blog. It's going to be: 'When keeping it real goes wrong.''' - Washington's Andray Blatche, who scored a career-high 26 to help the Wizards beat Philadelphia 116-101 on Tuesday.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Wednesday's NBA betting matchup notes
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Wizards at Charlotte Bobcats

Washington and Charlotte split their four meetings last season.

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics

The Warriors swept last season's two meetings with the Celtics.

Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat

Miami has won 11 consecutive home games against the Hawks.

Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets

The Mavs have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Rockets, including three of the last four in Houston.

New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have won nine straight games at home against the Knicks.

Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee swept last season's two-game series against the Lakers.

Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies

The Raptors haven't beaten the Grizzlies in Memphis since Dec. 1, 2002.

Indiana Pacers at New Orleans Hornets

Indiana plays five of its next seven on the road, where it has lost its last three games.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves

Cleveland won both of its games against Minnesota last season, holding the Timberwolves to 82.0 points per game.

Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs

Orlando is the only team in the league yet to lose a game away from home.

Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns

The Suns beat the Kings 100-98 on Tuesday night and will go for the home-and-home series sweep.

New Jersey Nets at Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers have won four straight at home against New Jersey to improve to 28-4 all-time in the series at Portland.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

Denver went 2-1 against Los Angeles last season. The teams have met only once since Allen Iverson joined the Nuggets and Denver won that game by three points.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Chandler helped off court, but X-rays show no major knee damage
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NEW ORLEANS -- Hornets starting center Tyson Chandler hyperextended his right knee during the second quarter of New Orleans' 95-88 loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday night.

The Hornets and Magic matchup was a pick'em entering the game.

Chandler was on crutches after the game, but smiled and said X-rays showed no ligament tears or broken bones. He added he may even return for the Hornets' next game on Wednesday night at home against Indiana.

''I'm feeling good,'' Chandler said. ''I'm hoping not to miss anything.''

Chandler was starting to run back to the Hornets' defensive end after a missed runner by Peja Stojakovic when he nearly tripped over a couple of players, including Stojakovic. He then took one more awkward step before collapsing, writhing in pain.

Trainers helped him to the locker room.

''I stepped on something and my whole leg went backwards and then it went numb and I thought: 'Oh god, I either tore something or I broke something.'''

Hilton Armstrong came in to replace him.

Chandler has been a force inside for the Hornets since the middle of last season, regularly getting double-doubles in points and rebounds.

This season, he was averaging 11.4 points and 11.5 rebounds as the Hornets got off to a franchise-best 9-2 start.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Arenas misses second consecutive game
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WASHINGTON  -- Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas missed his second consecutive game Tuesday night, the latest setback in his recovery from a knee injury.

Coach Eddie Jordan made the announcement less than an hour before tip-off of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The news came as a surprise, given that Arenas had three days of rest since his previous game.

''He's just not ready to play,'' coach Eddie Jordan said. ''He doesn't feel that his knee is capable of being good tonight, so we're going to give him another day.''

Arenas missed his first game this season Saturday night after playing in Friday's game against Minnesota. He continues to have soreness and swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, which has been drained twice in recent weeks.

''I don't know if it's a step backwards. I don't think so. It's just the way you have to rehab,'' Jordan said. ''Some days are good; some days are not so good. When you're improving, maybe you take a step back and that's just the normal way of rehabbing and recovering.''

The Wizards began a stretch Tuesday of four games in five nights, which means Arenas will likely miss more time.

''We'd like to get him some recovery time,'' Jordan said. ''We'll see how it goes.''

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Garbajosa inactive for the Raptors after MRI
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DALLAS  -- Toronto forward Jorge Garbajosa was inactive for Tuesday night's game at Dallas after team medical personnel saw something ''unusual'' on an MRI of his left leg, the one he broke last season.

Garbajosa has missed three of the Raptors' last four games. He is not expected to play or practice again until the team can determine the extent of the problem.

Last March, Garbajosa had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle and a fractured fibula sustained in a game against Boston. Garbajosa hasn't started any of the seven games he's played this season, averaging 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in less than 11 minutes a game.

After playing 11 seasons in Europe, Garbajosa is in the second year of a three-year contract with the Raptors. He made the NBA all-rookie team last season, when he averaged 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 67 games (60 starts) for the Raptors.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Maggette, Mobley likely to be sidelined

The snakebitten Clippers were chomped on once again.

Leading scorer Corey Maggette probably will be sidelined for two to three weeks while recovering from a strained right hamstring, the team learned Monday.

The Clippers are also considering resting swingman Cuttino Mobley until his strained groin heals. Quinton Ross (bruised right knee) and Al Thornton (sprained right ankle) will be game-time decisions Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets.

The injuries come as the Clippers (5-4) prepare for their toughest stretch of the early season. After playing the Nuggets, they close out the month against the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets and Denver again.

"When it rains, it thunderstorms," point guard Sam Cassell said.

Losing forward Maggette is a significant blow to the team, already without the injured Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston and trying to end a slide where they have lost four of five games.

Maggette is averaging 19.8 points and 7.5 rebounds and was already playing despite a bruised tailbone from the exhibition season. He aggravated that injury against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 7 after a hard fall and bruised his knee in the same game.

Athletic trainer Jasen Powell said the tailbone bruise probably caused his hamstring to be overworked.

"During the course of the season, you can't get the adequate type of strength work you want to get done to probably eliminate some of the ongoing, chronic game-by-game wear and tear," he said.

Mobley, who originally injured his groin against Indiana, said he is only about 70% healthy.

He started the season by providing a spark off the bench and making clutch shots.

But in the three games he has played since returning, Mobley's numbers have dropped, with the injury limiting his mobility.

"It's funny when you can see that you can change the game if you were healthy," he said. "And you are out there and you see things, but you can't do anything. It's like your brain wants do one thing when your body can't."

The team said it is close to keeping him out until he recovers.

"The good thing is, it's early in the season, so if I do sit down, I can catch up," Mobley said. "You don't want to dig yourself a hole either. It's a Catch-22 on that one."

Thornton replaced Maggette on Friday and sprained his ankle after leaping for a rebound and landing on the shoe of Warriors forward Al Harrington. Ross aggravated his knee injury Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.

"Right now, we have to deal with it the way it comes," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Unfortunately, we've kind of been hit at the same position at the same time. It's been all our wings."

Dunleavy said that point guards Cassell and Dan Dickau could get time at shooting guard. Ruben Patterson, nursing a dislocated right pinkie, will continue starting at small forward.

In the meantime, Dunleavy said the team will focus on shot selection and limiting turnovers.

"When you are depleted, you don't want to play as many possessions as when you are healthy," he said. "That's the adage. The more talented team wants to play the more possessions because you have more opportunities to be better."

www.latimes.com

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Wednesday's college basketball matchup betting notes
ASSOCIATED PRESS

No. 5 Georgetown at Ball State

Georgetown won 69-54 in last season's meeting in Washington, but John Thompson III believes not facing his brother will actually be easier, despite the circumstances surrounding his departure.

Washington vs. No. 15 Texas A&M

These teams haven't met since the Aggies beat the Huskies 69-65 on March 15, 1982, to take a 2-1 lead in the all-time series.

Presbyterian at No. 22 Clemson

Clemson has a 50-17-2 lead in the all-time series between the intrastate rivals, which began with a 39-all tie in the 1915-16 season. The schools have not met since a 95-69 victory by the Tigers in the 1982-83 season.

Northern Arizona at No. 4 Kansas

Kansas looks to win its 12th straight home game over a non-conference opponent and is 3-0 against Northern Arizona.

No. 6 Louisville at UNLV

The Cardinals have won the last three meetings to take a 4-3 lead in the series.

Ohio State vs. No. 21 Syracuse

The Orange beat Ohio State 77-66 in their last meeting in November 2000, but the Buckeyes hold a 3-2 edge in the all-time series. Syracuse is 60-41 at MSG under longtime coach Jim Boeheim.

No. 13 Marquette vs. No. 10 Duke

Marquette's victory last season was its second in six all-time meetings with Duke.

Michigan at Butler

Michigan has won the last six meetings between the teams, but the last two games were decided by a combined five points.

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Humphrey reinstated to team after weapons case resolved
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Guard Billy Humphrey was reinstated to the Georgia basketball team Tuesday after missing one game because of a weapons charge in which a small knife was found in his dorm room.

The move comes a day after junior guard Mike Mercer was kicked off the squad for ''being a disruption,'' coach Dennis Felton said. Mercer already was serving a 15-game suspension for violating the school's attendance policy for athletes.

Felton restored Humphrey to the team in time for Tuesday night's home game against Elon. The junior was unavailable for an 83-70 victory over Grambling after scoring 13 points in a season-opening win over Jacksonville State.

Humphrey agreed to a pretrial diversion deal that requires him to do 80 hours of community service and stay out of legal trouble for 18 months. With the case resolved, the Georgia athletic association lifted the mandatory suspension.

Humphrey was arrested when campus police, carrying out a search warrant for suspected marijuana, instead found a butterfly knife owned by the player.

Police said a dormitory janitor found marijuana in a trash bag, and officers traced the bag to the room Humphrey shared with Mercer. No drugs were found in the room.

The knife, which campus police described as a martial arts weapon, was a souvenir Humphrey brought back from a trip overseas, Felton said.

Just before the season, forward Takais Brown was dismissed by Felton for an unspecified violation of team policy. He led the team in scoring last season.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(6) Louisville (2-0, 0-0 ATS) at UNLV (3-0, 1-1 ATS)


Two teams guided by high-profile coaches clash in the shadows of the Las Vegas Strip, as Lon Kruger and UNLV host Rick Pitino and the sixth-ranked Cardinals.

Louisville has yet to play a lined game this season, opening up with a pair of easy home wins over Hartford (104-96) and Jackson State (84-53). The Cardinals shot 49.2 percent in the two wins, including 48.3 percent from three-point land, while holding the opposition to respective percentages of 34.9 and 27.5.

UNLV opened the season with a pair of easy home wins over Montana State and Dixie State before going on the road Saturday and handling San Diego 66-55 as a two-point road underdog. The Rebels are averaging 71 points per game, while giving up 60.

Going back to last year, when it made it all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, UNLV is on a 19-3 SU run. The Rebels are also 9-3 ATS in their last 12, including 6-1 ATS at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Louisville is 14-4 SU dating to last January, going 12-3-1 ATS in lined games. That includes a perfect 6-0 ATS mark in its last six true road contests.

The over is 5-1 in Louisville’s last six lined games and 6-2 in UNLV’s last eight on the board.

ATS ADVANTAGE:  OVER


Ohio State (2-0, 1-1 ATS) at (21) Syracuse (3-0, 1-2 ATS)

Two traditional basketball powers square off in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden, where Syracuse should enjoy a bit of a home-court edge against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have been idle since Nov. 13, when they topped Columbia 68-54, but never threatened to cover as a 26-point home favorite. That win came a night after Thad Matta’s squad upended Wisconsin-Green Bay 91-68 as a 15-point home chalk. Going back to last year, Ohio State is on a 24-1 SU run, the only setback being an 84-75 loss to Florida in the NCAA Championship game.

Syracuse tipped off the season with a pair of close home wins over Sienna (97-89) and St. Joe’s (72-69) before blowing out Fordham 80-63 on Friday. The Orange covered as a 10½-point home chalk against Fordham, but are still just 2-5 ATS in their last seven contests dating to March.

Ohio State is 8-4 ATS in its last 12 lined games and 7-3 ATS in its last 10 on neutral courts.

The Orange are have covered the spread in four straight games against Big Ten opponents. However, they’ve struggled in neutral-court contests, going 4-10 ATS in their last 14.

Both teams enter this contest shooting better than 51 percent from the field. Defensively, Ohio State has limited its two foes to 61 points per game on 34 percent shooting, while Syracuse is allowing 73.7 ppg on 44 percent shooting.

The over 6-2 in Ohio State’s last eight (5-1 on neutral courts) and 6-3 in Syracuse’s last nine (3-0 away from home).

ATS ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE and OVER


NBA

Dallas (8-2, 5-5 ATS) at Houston (6-5, 4-7ATS)

The Rockets will try to put the breaks on a four-game losing streak and attempt to avenge an earlier loss to the Mavericks when they welcome their Southwest Division rivals to the Toyota Center.

Houston, which started the season 6-1, dropped four straight games to Western Conference foes in a span of five days last week. Included were a pair of home losses to the Lakers (93-90 as a 6½-point chalk) and the Suns (115-105 as a 5½-point underdog), as the Rockets dropped to 3-2 at home (2-3 ATS).

The Mavericks capped off a perfect four-game homestand with last night’s 105-99 victory over the Raptors, but they failed to cover as an 8½-point favorite. Dallas is 7-1 in its last eight overall, but just 4-4 ATS.

Houston took a 3-0 record into Dallas on Nov. 5, but the Mavericks pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 107-98 win as a 4½-point favorite. Going back to a 2005 playoff series, the Mavericks are on a 12-2 SU run against the Rockets, going 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings. Also, the straight-up winner is 8-0 ATS in the past eight battles.

The Rockets are in ATS funks of 7-20 overall (1-4 in the last five), 4-10 at home and 2-7 in divisional games.

Dallas is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 games when playing on back-to-back nights. On the downside, Avery Johnson’s team is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven road games (1-3 ATS this year).

The Mavericks are on a 7-2 “over” streak. However, the under is 7-2 in their last nine road tilts and 4-1-1 in the last five Rockets-Mavs clashes at the Toyota Center.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DALLAS and UNDER


Orlando (10-2 SU and ATS) at San Antonio (9-2, 5-6 ATS)

The Magic take a five-game winning streak and a perfect 7-0 SU and ATS road record into one of the most difficult venues in the NBA when they face the Spurs in a battle of two of the league’s top teams.

Orlando outlasted the Chris Paul-less Hornets 95-88 on Monday, covering as a one-point underdog. The straight-up winner has covered the spread in each of Orlando’s first 12 games.

San Antonio returned to action last night following a four-day layoff and defeated the Hawks 95-83 as a 6½-point road favorite. The Spurs have won six of their last seven (4-3 ATS).

These teams have split their two-game season series against each other each of the last three years, with the winner covering the spread in the last five meetings. Last spring, Orlando eked out a 106-104 win as a 6½-point home underdog, but San Antonio got revenge in a 98-74 rout at home as a 12-point chalk.

In winning their first seven road games, the Magic have outscored their opponents by an average of 10 points per game (104-94).

The Spurs have won all six of their home games by an average of nine points per contest (100-91). However, they’re just 3-3 on their own court after ending last season on a 9-1 ATS run at home.

Going back to last season, the Magic are 13-3-2 ATS on the road and 4-1 ATS against Western Conference squads. They’re also 6-1 ATS as an underdog this season.

The Spurs are 0-3 ATS this year when playing back-to-back games and 1-4 ATS in their last five against Southeast Division foes.

The under is 4-2 in Orlando’s last six games overall, 6-3 in San Antonio's last nine overall and 4-0 in the last four Magic-Spurs battles in Texas.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ORLANDO and UNDER

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Isiah, say goodbye to Marbury for good

It was the next-to-last question of Isiah Thomas' eight-minute media briefing yesterday. It also was the only one that mattered.

"When was the last time you spoke with Mr. Dolan?"

Thomas stared into the distance, onto the basketball court where he says all of his focus is trained.

"The day before yesterday," he said.

The PR man was ending the interview at that point, and Thomas took two steps toward the sanctuary of the trainer's room, where Stephon Marbury had fled before the people with all the questions showed up.

"What was discussed?"

"We said hello," Thomas said, offering a smile and two slaps on the shoulder on his way out the door.

The day before yesterday as Thomas was speaking would have been Saturday, when the Knicks were in Denver getting blown out in the final game of an 0-4 road trip. The losing streak is at six, the schedule isn't getting easier, speculation has begun about potential replacements - and it's not even Thanksgiving.

Asked twice in succession yesterday if he's concerned about his job security, twice Thomas said, "No."

There are no internal plans to fire Thomas, but despite James Dolan's unfailing loyalty to him, no one can say with certainty how this will play out. That is because no one knows Dolan's threshold.

What will it take for Thomas to save his job? And what will it take for Dolan to fire him? Only Dolan knows both answers, and he's not saying.

Either way, it has become clear to me that someone else has to go, whether Thomas is fired or not. That would be the point guard he demoted.

I suppose it's possible that before it's too late, Thomas could get Marbury playing the way he did for most of last season. But if Isiah thought so, why would he have taken him out of the starting lineup?

Sources say the Knicks will not buy out the $42 million remaining on Marbury's contract. A better solution is to trade him, for two reasons: If Thomas survives this, his team will be better off without Marbury. And if he doesn't, the locker room won't tolerate Marbury surviving and not Thomas.

We've been over this: Trading a 30-year-old screwball point guard owed $42 million isn't impossible.

What if the Kings, for example, want to unload Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Kenny Thomas badly enough to include Ron Artest in a deal? What if Marbury's involvement in a three-way deal with the Kings and Cavs is enough to revive the long-rumored Mike Bibby-to-Cleveland talks and get Anderson Varejao out of Ohio?

The trick is, Thomas needs to survive long enough to make one more trade.

The home fans will be hostile, no doubt, tonight when Thomas brings his tightrope act to the Garden against the 2-6 Warriors. An embarrassing home loss on the heels of this trip could be enough to knock him off balance, though probably not off completely. Not yet.

Coincidentally, on the other bench tonight will be Don Nelson, who was famously fired by the Knicks after an 0-4 West Coast trip in 1996 during which he benched John Starks for Hubert Davis.

So with controversy swirling around Thomas over his benching of Marbury, it was hardly a surprise that Marbury was seen walking out of the MSG Training Center at 1:15 p.m. yesterday, not having answered any of the questions Thomas had just finished fielding.

Leadership? Not exactly. Marbury's decision to dodge the spotlight yesterday was only another reason why benching him was the right thing to do - along with poor defense and an inability to lead and run the team.

"This is something that was necessary and we had to go through it," Thomas said.

Contrary to some accounts, Thomas didn't bench Bob Cousy but Marbury, whose teams are 304-442 (.408) since he forced his way out of Minnesota in 1999. It was a necessary basketball decision, and the right one.

A history lesson, though: Nelson's Knicks won their first home game after that 0-4 trip in '96, against the Warriors, no less. Nellie was fired by the end of the week.

All we really learned yesterday was that Dolan and Thomas said hello to each other the last time they spoke. Goodbye will have to wait, but for how long?

www.newsday.com

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

McGrady eager for return against Mavericks

Rockets expect offensive keystone to play Wednesday

Tracy McGrady spun away again, another pained expression on his face.

This time, however, he was reacting to no more than missing a 3-pointer. And moments later, rather than being helped from the court, he was singing, which elicited pained expressions from other people.

Long after his first practice with the Rockets since he sprained his right elbow last week had ended, McGrady was shooting 3s in a competition with Kirk Snyder. McGrady was smiling, grimacing and even singing.

He was — he proclaimed in words and deeds — back.

"I feel good," McGrady, 28, said Monday afternoon. "I'm glad to be back on the basketball court practicing. I wanted to play the last game, but the doctors kept me out and gave me the opportunity to have three days of rest."

He said he had no problems on the court, describing some discomfort, but nothing he considered pain. He wore a protective sleeve on his elbow and said he would switch to one with a pad to protect some tenderness. If there were any doubt about his plans with the Rockets facing the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, he said he would be playing.

"There are certain things I do on the basketball court (during which) I can feel it, but as far as shooting, no," McGrady said. "I'm sure when I'm out there in front of 18,000 people and I'm competing against some of the best players in the world, I won't even think about it.

"Pain? There's nothing worse than having a back injury and having your back go out. So no, it's not pain. That's pain.

"This was one of the weirdest injuries I've had in my career. If it was on my left arm, I still would (have been) out there playing, but because it was on my shooting arm and had a slight tear in there, they wanted to prevent being out for a long period of time. It was just a minor setback. I'm not worried about it."

Asked about the "slight tear" and to clarify the diagnosis, McGrady said it was a torn ligament.

"I didn't know until the doctors told me ... last game (on Saturday)," McGrady said. "I didn't know that. I don't think it's anything major. It's nothing."

Rockets team physician Tom Clanton did not call it "nothing," but said the "slight tear" is typical of a sprain.

"Any injury of this nature — basically a sprain — can include some tearing of the soft tissues," Clanton said. "This results in the inflammation and irritation that was found around his elbow. As previously reported, the MRI test performed on Nov. 14 showed no complete tear (or rupture) of a tendon or ligament that would result in an unstable joint. We remain confident that Tracy will be able to make a full recovery."

Team slumping

The Rockets can only hope his return will help them do the same. After a 6-1 start, they have lost four consecutive games, playing the last 2 1/2 without McGrady. Not counting games he left in progress, the Rockets are 11-41 in games McGrady has missed. They are 132-73 when he plays.

The Rockets' losing streak came in a stretch of four games in five nights (and five in a week), and they played the final 2 1/2 of those games short-handed. Coach Rick Adelman said citing the schedule and McGrady's injury was part explanation and part excuse and, either way, no longer an issue.

"I think it's a combination," Adelman said. "We had a couple games we had a chance to win; we didn't do it. We've got to somehow get through this and break it. That's the bottom line. We have to find a way to get a win on Wednesday.

"There isn't any little losing streak. It's four games. And I think when you've got Dallas coming up, then go to Miami, have Denver back here and then go out West, we need to break it. We need to get a win against somebody and keep working at it."

The Rockets took an important step in that direction Monday by getting McGrady back. He was the NBA's leading scorer when he was hurt. His average slipped that night to 26.8 points per game, third in the league, and he is averaging 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Valuable piece to puzzle

But his value might be seen in the Rockets' struggles the past four seasons without him.

"We just had a terrible stretch of games, and we've been playing poorly," McGrady said. "I just want to get back out there with my teammates, and let's get back on the road.

"It's very frustrating. I set a goal to play 82 (games) this year. Now I guess I have to go out and play 80."

Do that, and he won't sing alone.

www.chron.com

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Nov 21st

Paul returns to lineup for Hornets, Chandler out
November 21st, 2007

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul is expected to be in the lineup for Wednesday's contest against the Indiana Pacers after missing two games with a sprained right ankle.

Paul suffered the injury November 16 in a contest against the Memphis Grizzlies. The fourth-overall selection in the 2005 draft is averaging 19.5 points and a league-best 10.8 assists in 10 games this season.

Center Tyson Chandler, who hyperextended his right knee on Monday, is not expected to play. The 25-year-old, third-year pro is shooting better than 57 percent from the field in 12 games this year.

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