Betting News and Notes -Dec 11th

Betting News and Notes -Dec 11th

Cavaliers' LeBron James pointing toward return from finger injury
ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James' injured finger passed the required practice test. It's game time.

James, who has missed Cleveland's past five games - all losses - with a sprained left index finger, is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday night when the Cavaliers host the Indiana Pacers.

Following practice on Monday, James said the finger has improved and that he didn't have any problems with it after two days of contact. The Cavaliers' megastar sounded confident that he would dress for the Pacers.

''We're going to leave it as a game-time decision,'' he said. ''I've been through two contact practices OK. We'll see what happens.''

James has been wearing a protective glove over the knuckle on his finger, which was injured on Nov. 28 when Detroit forward Nazr Mohammed whacked his hand while he was driving for a shot in a loss to the Pistons.

''It's better than it was a week and half ago,'' James said. ''The pain is going away little by little. It's not 100 percent at all right now and it probably won't be until the offseason, and I don't have an offseason until 2009.''

He will play for the United States in the Beijing Olympics this summer.

James, the NBA's leading scorer who was playing some of the best ball of his career when he got hurt, was surprised the Cavs played so poorly without him.

''Offensively not as much, but defensively we struggled,'' he said. ''You have mental lapses offensively, but you can't have those defensively no matter who is playing. We had a couple games where we just didn't give effort.''

Along with James, the Cavaliers may welcome back forward Anderson Varejao on Tuesday. Varejao, who ended a contract holdout by signing a three-year, $17 million deal last week, was in Canada getting his work visa.

If the Brazilian gets back in time, Cavs coach Mike Brown said he would likely play him against the Pacers.

Anderson's return, along with guard Larry Hughes being back after missing time with a leg bruise, has renewed confidence for the Cavaliers, the defending Eastern Conference champions who are off to a 9-12 start.

''It's starting to feel good around here, especially the last couple days of practice,'' James said. ''Everyone is back now so we're ready to start playing winning basketball again.''

James, who had never missed more than four games in a season, said not being able to play has been excruciating.

''It's not good for me,'' he said. ''It's not like I'm learning anything from watching. I don't learn nothing from watching. It's tiring. I could really fall asleep on the bench if I wanted to.'

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 11th

Sacramento Kings sign Dahntay Jones
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento Kings signed swingman Dahntay Jones on Monday and waived center Darryl Watkins.

Jones, a first-round draft pick by Boston in 2003, spent his first four NBA seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 5.1 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 221 games.

Watkins, a rookie from Syracuse, played in nine games with the Kings.

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 11th

Marbury misses Knicks' game,still emotional following father's death
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NEW YORK -- Stephon Marbury missed the Knicks' game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, and the team has said he can take as much time as he needs following the death of his father.

Marbury's father, Donald, died on Dec. 2 after being taken from Madison Square Garden to a hospital because of chest pains. Stephon Marbury missed one game, then returned the day after his father's funeral.

He hasn't been effective in either game since. He scored two points in 13 minutes of a loss at Philadelphia on Friday, then had six in 24 minutes at home against the 76ers on Saturday.

That game was particularly tough, since it came in the last place his father saw him play.

''During the pregame you could tell that emotionally he was a wreck,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. ''Sitting in his locker before the game, then when they did the moment of the silence at the start of the game. I just think it was too emotional for him.

''I asked him if he really thought that he could do this and if he wanted to play. He kept insisting that he wanted to and this would be good for him. At the start of the game I just wished him luck and told him to go after it.''

Marbury, who also missed a game last month when he left the team after feuding with Thomas over a move to the bench, is averaging 13.4 points.

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Andrea Bargnani hopes to return to face Hawks on Tuesday
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TORONTO -- Toronto forward Andrea Bargnani practiced Monday for the first time in more than a week and hopes to play when the Raptors face the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.

If Bargnani plays, it will be the first time Toronto has had its trio of stars - Bargnani, T.J. Ford and Chris Bosh - together in the lineup since Nov. 20.

''The knee is getting better every day,'' Bargnani said after Monday's practice. ''Today I practiced normally and it was feeling good. I can try to play, we'll see (Tuesday).''

Bargnani is averaging 11.9 points and 4.5 rebounds this season.

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NBA Today - Tuesday, Dec. 11
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SCOREBOARD Tuesday, Dec. 11

Indiana at Cleveland (7 p.m. EST). LeBron James is expected to return for the Cavaliers, who have lost six straight.

STARS Monday

-Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks, scored a season-high 36 points to lead Dallas past New York 99-89.

-Dwyane Wade, Heat, scored 31 points, including 10 in the final 4 minutes, and Miami defeated Phoenix 117-113.

-Josh Smith, Hawks, had 25 points and a season-high 16 rebounds to help Atlanta beat Orlando 98-87.

FIRSTS


Miami shot 59 percent to get past Phoenix 117-113 Monday night and win consecutive games for the first time this season. It was the first time the Heat beat the Suns in three seasons. ... Andre Miller had 17 points and 12 assists to help Philadelphia beat Houston 100-88 for its first three-game winning streak of the season.

DOWN THE BLOCK

Shawn Marion blocked four shots for the fifth time in 13 games in Phoenix's 117-113 loss to Miami on Monday night. The five four-block efforts match his total for all of last season.

STREAKS

Joe Johnson scored 24 points in Atlanta's 98-87 victory over Orlando on Monday night, the Hawks' third straight win. The Magic had won five of their last six at home against Atlanta. ... Dallas beat New York 99-89 for its second straight win following consecutive losses.

SNAPPED

Miami (6-15) beat Phoenix 117-113 on Monday night to hand the Suns their second straight loss to a team with one of the NBA's worst records. The Suns were beaten at Minnesota (3-15) on Saturday. The loss snapped a string of nine consecutive victories for Phoenix over Eastern Conference opponents. ... Sacramento squeaked by Milwaukee 96-93 to snap a two-game slide and hand the Bucks their fourth straight loss and eighth in nine games.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Dwight Howard had 14 points and 18 rebounds but Orlando fell to Atlanta 98-87 Monday night for its second straight loss and first losing streak this season. ... Zach Randolph scored 24 points, all in the second half, and grabbed 11 rebounds, but New York was defeated by Dallas 99-89 for its third straight loss.

SPEAKING

''I guess they say it's New York fans, but you know it's real tough. Honestly. Especially for me, because I've never experienced every time a player walks off the court you're booing. Everywhere else, in Portland, fans were a big part of our team. Fans are a big part of every team everywhere you go. We need the fans to be supportive with us, even when we're down.'' - New York's Zach Randolph, on the hostile reaction the last-place Knicks (6-14) drew from the home crowd during a 99-89 loss to Dallas on Monday night.

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Tuesday's NBA matchup betting notes
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Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards

The Timberwolves are 1-7 on the road this season and have lost their last three visits to Washington since a 110-91 victory on Dec. 12, 2003.

Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks

Toronto has taken two straight games in the series and seven of the last 10 matchups.

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland has won four straight against the Pacers and seven of the last eight overall in this series.

Los Angeles Clippers at New Jersey Nets

The Nets haven't lost at home to the Clippers in nearly a decade, winning eight straight since a 119-116 loss on Jan. 15, 1998.

Detroit Pistons at Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis has dropped four straight games overall, as well as four straight in the series with Detroit.

Seattle SuperSonics at Chicago Bulls

Seattle lost both its meetings with Chicago last season after winning seven of the previous eight matchups.

Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz

These teams split their season series in 2006-07, but the Blazers lost both of their road games. They've dropped 11 of 12 in Utah since the 2001-02 season, including six straight since an 87-73 victory on Feb. 6, 2004.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors


Since drafting Duncan first overall in 1997, the Spurs are 33-5 against the Warriors - winning all 19 meetings at home and going 14-5 in Oakland

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Tuesday's college basketball matchup betting notes
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Sacramento State at No. 16 Oregon

In the four wins against the Hornets, Oregon's average margin of victory was 22.0 points, including an 89-44 win in their most recent meeting in November 1978.

No. 24 St. Mary's at Southern Illinois

Senior forward Randal Falker had 23 points and 11 rebounds as the Salukis won 66-61 at Saint Mary's last season. Simpson had 13 and nine rebounds for the Gaels, who are 1-4 all-time versus Southern Illinois.

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Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

- The division rival Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to renew hostilities on Tuesday when they meet at Quicken Loans Arena.

Indiana hit 11 three-pointers in Friday's 115-109 win at Orlando, coming in as 8-point road underdogs. The 224 points scored were OVER the posted total of 211.

Danny Grangers was 6-for-7 from beyond the arc en route to 27 points, and Jamaal Tinsley had 20 points and ten assists for the Pacers.

Larry Hughes led the Cavaliers with 22 points in their 96-93 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night.

The Bobcats won as 8.5-point home favorites as the teams played over the 184.5-point total listed by sportsbooks.

Current streak:
Cleveland has lost 6 straight games.

Team records:
Indiana: 10-10 SU, 11-9 ATS
Cleveland: 9-12 SU, 9-12 ATS

Indiana most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 7-3
Before playing Chicago are 3-7
After playing Orlando are 8-2
After a win are 4-6

Cleveland most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing New Jersey are 5-5
After playing Charlotte are 5-5
After a loss are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Indiana is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Indiana is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games on the road
Indiana is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Indiana's last 5 games when playing on the road against Cleveland
Cleveland is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Indiana
Cleveland is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing Indiana
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Cleveland's last 5 games when playing at home against Indiana
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Cleveland's last 11 games when playing Indiana

Next up:
Indiana home to Chicago, Wednesday, December 12
Cleveland at New Jersey, Friday, December 14

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Washington Wizards

- The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Washington Wizards will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at Verizon Center.

Al Jefferson netted 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to a 100-93 upset win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

The Timberwolves easily covered as 10.5-point underdogs as the game played under the 217.5-point total listed by sportsbooks.

The Wizards defeated New Jersey 104-89 as a 3-point favorite last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (195.5).

Caron Butler scored 28 points for Washington and Antawn Jamison had 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Team records:
Minnesota: 3-15 SU, 8-10 ATS
Washington: 10-10 SU, 12-8 ATS

Minnesota most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 3-7
Before playing Philadelphia are 6-4
After playing Phoenix are 4-6
After a win are 0-10

Washington most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Miami are 1-9
After playing New Jersey are 2-8
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Minnesota's last 8 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Minnesota's last 11 games when playing on the road against Washington
Minnesota is 9-4 SU in its last 13 games when playing Washington
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Washington's last 7 games at home
Washington is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Washington is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 10 of Washington's last 13 games

Next up:
Minnesota at Philadelphia, Wednesday, December 12
Washington at Miami, Thursday, December 13

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Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks

- The Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at Philips Arena.

The Raptors defeated Houston 93-80 as a 4-point underdog on Sunday. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (188).

Chris Bosh scored 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds for Toronto, while Kris Humphries added 16 points and nine rebounds in the win.

The Hawks had a strong start and a solid finish as they defeated the Magic 98-87 last time out, as 10.5-point underdogs. The 185 points fell UNDER the posted total of 194.5.

Josh Smith had a game-high 25 points and hauled down 16 rebounds for a double-double for the Hawks, and Joe Johnson chipped in with 24 points in the win.

Current streak:
Atlanta has won 3 straight games.

Team records:
Toronto: 11-10 SU, 13-8 ATS
Atlanta: 10-10 SU, 10-10 ATS

Toronto most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 3-7
Before playing Dallas are 5-5
After playing Houston are 4-6
After a win are 4-6

Atlanta most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 3-7
Before playing Detroit are 6-4
After playing Orlando are 2-8
After a win are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 11 of Toronto's last 12 games when playing Atlanta
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Toronto's last 5 games on the road
Toronto is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Atlanta
Toronto is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Atlanta
The total has gone OVER in 11 of Atlanta's last 12 games when playing Toronto
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Atlanta's last 11 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Atlanta's last 6 games at home
Atlanta is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

Next up:
Toronto home to Dallas, Wednesday, December 12
Atlanta at Detroit, Friday, December 14

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. New Jersey Nets

- The Los Angeles Clippers and the New Jersey Nets will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at Izod Center.

The Clippers lost to Miami 100-94 as a 2.5-point underdog last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (187).

Corey Maggette led the Clippers with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Chris Kaman chipped in with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

The Nets lost to Washington 104-89 as a 3-point underdog last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (195.5).

Vince Carter led the Nets with 30 points and Jason Kidd had a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.

Current streak:
New Jersey has lost 3 straight games.

Team records:
Los Angeles: 7-12 SU, 6-13 ATS
New Jersey: 9-12 SU, 7-13-1 ATS

Los Angeles most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 1-9
Before playing Charlotte are 3-3
After playing Miami are 4-6
After a loss are 3-7

New Jersey most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Cleveland are 6-4
After playing Washington are 3-7
After a loss are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the LA Clippers last 9 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 8 of the LA Clippers last 11 games when playing on the road against New Jersey
The total has gone OVER in 16 of the LA Clippers last 24 games when playing New Jersey
LA Clippers are 4-10 SU in their last 14 games when playing New Jersey
New Jersey is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games when playing at home against LA Clippers
New Jersey is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games when playing at home against LA Clippers
The total has gone OVER in 4 of New Jersey's last 5 games at home
New Jersey is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing LA Clippers

Next up:
LA Clippers at Charlotte, Wednesday, December 12
New Jersey home to Cleveland, Friday, December 14

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Detroit Pistons vs. Memphis Grizzlies

- The Detroit Pistons and the Memphis Grizzlies will both be trying to pick up a win on Tuesday when they battle at FedExForum.

The Pistons defeated Charlotte 104-85 as a 12-point favorite last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (192).

Chauncey Billups scored a game-high 20 points for Detroit and Antonio McDyess chipped in with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 17 points and 11 boards in their 86-78 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

The Hawks won as 4.5-point home favorites as the teams played well under the 204-point total posted by linesmakers.

Current streak:
Memphis has lost 4 straight games.

Team records:
Detroit: 14-6 SU, 11-9 ATS
Memphis: 6-14 SU, 11-9 ATS

Detroit most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Houston are 6-4
After playing Charlotte are 6-4
After a win are 6-4

Memphis most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing LA Clippers are 7-3
After playing Atlanta are 6-4
After a loss are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Detroit is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
Detroit is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
Detroit is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games when playing Memphis
Detroit is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Memphis
Memphis is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Detroit
The total has gone OVER in 15 of Memphis's last 19 games at home
Memphis is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Memphis's last 6 games

Next up:
Detroit at Houston, Wednesday, December 12
Memphis home to LA Clippers, Friday, December 14

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Seattle SuperSonics vs. Chicago Bulls

- The Seattle SuperSonics and the Chicago Bulls will both be trying to pick up a win on Tuesday when they battle at United Center.

The Sonics lost to New Orleans 91-88 as an 8-point underdog last time out. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (196).

Kevin Durant led the Sonics with 23 points and Wally Szczerbiak had 14 points in the loss.

Andres Nocioni was the leading scorer for the Bulls with 18 points in their 92-81 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.

The Celtics cashed as 6-point road favorites as the teams played under the 183-point total set by sportsbooks.

Team records:
Seattle: 5-16 SU, 10-11 ATS
Chicago: 6-12 SU, 6-12 ATS

Seattle most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 3-7
Before playing New York are 5-5
After playing New Orleans are 5-5
After a loss are 3-7

Chicago most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 7-3
Before playing Indiana are 4-6
After playing Boston are 6-4
After a loss are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
Seattle is 8-1 ATS in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Chicago
Seattle is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Chicago
Seattle is 10-4 SU in its last 14 games when playing Chicago
Seattle is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Chicago
Chicago is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
Chicago is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Chicago's last 9 games at home
Chicago is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games at home

Next up:
Seattle at New York, Wednesday, December 12
Chicago at Indiana, Wednesday, December 12

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz

- If familiarity breeds contempt, there should be animosity aplenty on Tuesday when the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz meet at EnergySolutions Arena.

The Blazers defeated Milwaukee 115-112 in overtime as a 3.5-point favorite last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (192.5).

Brandon Roy scored 26 points to go along with eight rebounds and nine assists for Portland, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points in the win.

Deron Williams led the Jazz with 41 points and seven assists in their 125-117 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.

The Mavs covered as 5.5-point favorites as the teams played over the 207.5-point total set by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
Portland has won 3 straight games.
Utah has lost 3 straight games.

Team records:
Portland: 8-12 SU, 10-10 ATS
Utah: 13-8 SU, 10-11 ATS

Portland most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Golden State are 3-7
After playing Milwaukee are 4-6
After a win are 6-4

Utah most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Phoenix are 8-2
After playing Dallas are 2-8
After a loss are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Portland's last 7 games when playing on the road against Utah
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Portland's last 6 games when playing Utah
Portland is 4-9 SU in its last 13 games
Portland is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
Utah is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Portland
Utah is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Utah is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games when playing Portland
Utah is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games when playing at home against Portland

Next up:
Portland home to Golden State, Wednesday, December 12
Utah at Phoenix, Wednesday, December 12

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San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

- The San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors will both be gunning for a victory on Tuesday when they meet at Oracle Arena.

San Antonio's Manu Ginobili scored 37 points off the bench in Friday's 104-98 win over Utah, covering the 1-point home spread. The 202 points scored were OVER the posted total of 201.

Tony Parker had 16 points, and Michael Finley added 15 points for the Spurs.

The Warriors lost to the Lakers 123-113 as a 3.5-point underdog last time out. The combined score went OVER the posted over/under total (225.5).

Baron Davis led the Warriors with 20 points and Stephen Jackson chipped in with 18 points.

Current streak:
San Antonio has won 5 straight games.

Team records:
San Antonio: 17-3 SU, 13-7 ATS
Golden State: 11-9 SU, 10-10 ATS

San Antonio most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 8-2
Before playing LA Lakers are 7-3
After playing Utah are 7-3
After a win are 8-2

Golden State most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 4-6
Before playing Portland are 6-4
After playing LA Lakers are 6-4
After a loss are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
San Antonio is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
San Antonio is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of San Antonio's last 5 games when playing Golden State
San Antonio is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games when playing Golden State
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Golden State's last 5 games when playing San Antonio
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Golden State's last 10 games when playing at home against San Antonio
Golden State is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games at home
Golden State is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games

Next up:
San Antonio at LA Lakers, Thursday, December 13
Golden State at Portland, Wednesday, December 12

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Portland (8-12, 10-10 ATS) at Utah (13-8, 10-10 ATS)

The streaking Trailblazers shoot for their fourth consecutive win and cover when they visit Salt Lake City for a Northwest Division battle with the Jazz.

Portland has followed up a four-game losing skid with three straight wins by a total of nine points. On Sunday, the Blazers got past the visiting Bucks 117-113 in overtime, barely cashing as a 3½-point home chalk. Portland has averaged 111.7 points per game during its winning streak after tallying just 80.5 ppg during its four-game slide.

Utah returns home following a winless three-game road trip that ended with Saturday’s 125-117 loss at Dallas as a six-point underdog. The Jazz, who won 11 of their first 13 games before the most recent road trip, have failed to cover in four straight contests, which comes on the heels of a 5-1 ATS run.

The Jazz have won eight straight games at the EnergySolutions Arena (6-1-1 ATS) since losing their home-opener to Houston on Nov. 1.

Portland lost its first nine road games of the season before topping the Grizzlies 106-105 in Memphis in its most recent road contest eight days ago. The Blazers are 5-5 ATS on the highway.

The home team has won each of the last five meetings in this rivalry (4-1 ATS). Also the favorite is 9-4 in the past 13 series clashes, while Portland is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 visits to Salt Lake City.

The straight-up winner is 14-1 ATS in Utah’s last 15 contests and 8-2 ATS in the last 10 series meetings.

The over is 8-0 in Utah’s last eight overall, 20-8 in its last 28 divisional games, 3-0 in Portland’s last three and 6-3 in the last nine Jazz-Blazers battles.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UTAH and OVER


San Antonio (17-3, 13-7 ATS) at Golden State (11-9, 10-10 ATS)

The defending champion Spurs take a five-game SU and ATS winning streak west to Golden State for a showdown against the up-tempo Warriors.

San Antonio overcame the absence of injured All-Star forward Tim Duncan in its last two games, upending the Mavericks (97-95 as a 2½-point home underdog) and the Jazz (104-98 in a pick-em contest at home) on back-to-back nights Thursday and Friday. The Spurs, who have ripped off a pair of five-game winning streaks, a four-game winning streak and a three-game winning streak, are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 contests.

Golden State is coming off Sunday’s 123-113 loss at the Lakers as a three-point road underdog. The Warriors have followed up a 9-1 run (8-2 ATS) by splitting their last four contests (1-3 ATS).

San Antonio has owned the Warriors going back to Duncan’s rookie season, winning 32 of the last 36 meetings. Last year, the Spurs destroyed the Warriors three times, winning two home games by scores 129-89 and 112-99, plus a 126-89 rout at Oracle Arena. They cashed in all three games and are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings with Golden State.

The home team is 11-4 ATS In the last 15 series battles.

All three of San Antonio’s losses have come on the road, where Gregg Popovich’s club is 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS.

The Warriors are 5-1 in their last six home games (4-2 ATS). Also, they have cashed in each of their last six games against teams from the Southwest Division.

For Golden State, the over is on runs of 8-2 at home and 7-3 against the Western Conference. Also, the over is 4-1 in San Antonio’s last five road games, 5-0 in the last five Spurs-Warriors battles and 9-1 in the last 10 series meetings in Golden State.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN ANTONIO and OVER


COLLEGE BASKETBALL


(24) St. Mary’s (7-0, 3-1 ATS)) at Southern Illinois (3-3, 2-4 ATS)

St. Mary’s, which cracked the Top 25 on Monday, takes its No. 24 ranking and a perfect record to Southern Illinois, where it hopes to hand the Salukis their third straight loss while also avenging last year’s home defeat to SIU.

The Gaels outlasted San Diego State 69-64 as a 3½-point favorite in Saturday’s John Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. The five-point margin of victory was the slimmest so far for St. Mary’s, which is outscoring its foes by an average of 15 points per game (84-69).

Southern Illinois started the season with three straight wins (2-1 ATS), but has since dropped three in a row both SU and ATS, all as a favorite. On Saturday, the Salukis fell 71-56 at Charlotte as a 4½-point chalk.

The Salukis went to St. Mary’s last year and won 66-61 as a 3½-point favorite. They also topped the Gaels 65-56 as a two-point chalk in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

St. Mary’s is on ATS runs of 7-2 overall and 4-1 on the road.

Southern Illinois is just 4-11 ATS in its last 15 following a straight-up loss.

The under is 7-2 in Southern Illinois’ last nine games overall, 5-1 in its last six at home and 4-1 in the Gaels’ last five lined contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ST. MARY’S and UNDER

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Re: Betting News and Notes -Dec 11th

Cassell doubts he will be back for four-game trip

He had hoped to be back from strained calf injury for the next game, but he now acknowledges that was optimistic.

NEW YORK -- Sam Cassell was a wee bit optimistic.

The Clippers' veteran point guard, who sat out his sixth game Sunday with a strained calf sustained Nov. 26 against the Houston Rockets, had originally hoped to come back the next game.

Now, it's unlikely he will play on the team's four-game trip that starts tonight against the New Jersey Nets.

"I doubt it," Cassell said Monday. "I seriously doubt I can play on this road trip. I'm pushing to play, but I doubt it."

During the Clippers' previous trip, Cassell went to Houston to work with his personal trainer, trying to increase blood movement in the calf while strengthening the muscles surrounding it.

"It's getting there. It's getting there," Cassell repeated for emphasis, touching the calf. "It's not quite there yet.

"Once I can get my explosion back -- forward and backward -- that's when I know I'll be able to play ball."

Until then, he will have to wait as the Clippers look for a way to escape the long stretches of scoring droughts that have plagued them in recent games.

"This team looks for me to score points, especially in the fourth quarter and get guys open shots in the fourth quarter," Cassell said. "Right now, we are struggling scoring points. That's when I know I can get a basket."

Forward Tim Thomas said he was fine after suffering a bruised jaw in the third quarter against Miami on Sunday. Jostling for position under the rim in the third quarter, he caught an elbow from the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal.

"I was there in the way," Thomas said. "It wasn't intentional. It was just me having my face at the wrong place in the wrong time. I had a lot of pain, an instant headache. But it will be all right."

Rookie Al Thornton played only four minutes against the Heat, converting a three-point play on a layup over O'Neal.

He was quickly substituted after missing a defensive assignment that led to an easy Miami basket.

"Basically for us, when you are struggling and fighting for games to keep you in contention, you are going to be on a shorter leash," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. Sunday "was a time they kept it down to their guys who were savvy veterans and the other part was Corey [Maggette] was playing well in his matchup against Dorell Wright in the low post, that I couldn't give Al his minutes."

Dwyane Wade didn't dunk on Paul Davis like in a Gatorade commercial featuring the two, but he did compliment him afterward.

"Paul was a soldier for getting dunked on in the commercial," Wade said. "I wouldn't have done that. I respect him for doing that."

TONIGHT

at New Jersey, 4:30 PST, Ch. 5

Site -- Izod Center.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 7-12, Nets 9-12.

Record vs. Nets (2006-07) -- 1-1.

Update -- Point guard Jason Kidd recently denied reports that he missed a game as a protest for not receiving a contract extension from the Nets, who have lost three games in a row.

latimes.com

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Tuesday NBA Gameday

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7:00pm ET

The Pacers will be looking to improve on their poor conference record when they take on the Cavs on Tuesday night. Indiana has won two of their past three and six of their past 10 games, and they're coming off a 115-109 road victory over the Magic. Granger led the way with 27 points against Orlando, while Jamaal Tinsley contributed 20 points.

Cleveland is hoping that LeBron James is able to return from his finger injury for this contest. The Cavs have lost five straight games with James out of the lineup, and they've fallen below the .500 mark on the season. Against the Bobcats on the road last time out the Cavaliers fell 96-93, with Larry Hughes contributing a team-high 22 points.

Los Angeles Clippers at New Jersey Nets, 7:30pm ET

The Clippers have lost eight of their past 10 games to sink to the bottom of the Pacific Division standings. Los Angeles has also lost four of their five games in the month of December, with their only win coming last Friday versus the Kings. Corey Maggette tossed in a team-high 24 points in the Clippers' 100-94 home loss to Miami on Sunday.

The Nets had Jason Kidd in the lineup on Sunday night, but they still fell 104-89 on the road to the Wizards. New Jersey has now lost three games in a row to sit at 9-12 on the season. Vince Carter led the Nets with a 30-point performance against Washington, while Bostjan Nachbar picked up 19 points and Kidd kicked in 13 points and 13 assists.

Detroit Pistons at Memphis Grizzlies, 8:00pm ET

Detroit continued their hot December with a 104-85 win over the Bobcats on Sunday night. The Pistons have won five of their six contests this month, and they're now 14-6 and in first place in the Central Division. Chauncey Billups picked up 20 points for the Pistons against Charlotte, while Antonio McDyess added 19 points and nine rebounds.

The Grizzlies have lost each of their past four games to sit with a 6-13 record on the season. Memphis last won on December 1, when they got past the lowly Timberwolves by a final score of 109-80. Last time out the Grizzlies got 17 points and 11 rebounds from Rudy Gay and a 13-10 effort from Pau Gasol in a 96-78 road loss to the Hawks.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors, 10:30pm ET

The Spurs haven't had much trouble winning without Tim Duncan on the floor; the Western Conference's top team has won five straight games and nine of their past 10 contests. Duncan could return from his ankle injury on Tuesday. Manu Ginobili exploded for 37 points on Friday night as the Spurs rallied to a 104-98 home victory over the Jazz.

Golden State has been on a roll lately as well, climbing back over the .500 mark after slumping in the beginning of November. The Warriors, though, are coming off a 123-113 loss to the Lakers on the road on Sunday night. Baron Davis led the Warriors' attack with 20 points and seven assists in that defeat, while Stephen Jackson added 18 points.

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Duncan a game-time decision

Two days off benefit Parker's sore ankles

Tim Duncan's sprained right ankle endured another full practice session without incident Monday, clearing the way for the Spurs' All-Star forward to play tonight at Golden State.

Officially, the team has deemed Duncan's availability to be a game-time decision. The Spurs will wait to see how he responds at this morning's shootaround in Oakland before making a final call.

If Duncan does indeed make his return against the Warriors, it will have been nine days since he injured his ankle in a Dec. 2 victory over Portland. He has missed just two games in that span.

Without him, the Spurs managed to beat a pair of Western Conference challengers — Dallas and Utah — and extend their franchise-record start to 17-3.

Those two Duncan-less victories — made possible by back-to-back 37-point nights from Manu Ginobili — gave rise to facetious speculation that maybe, just maybe, the Spurs don't need their two-time league MVP in order to succeed.

"No matter what you media guys say, I'm not jumping on that wagon," forward Bruce Bowen said Monday, playing along with the joke.

Through the first 18 games, Duncan averaged 17.6 points and a team-leading 8.9 rebounds. He is typically the centerpiece of the Spurs' offensive and defensive systems — coach Gregg Popovich typically refers to him as the team's "quarterback."

All kidding aside, Duncan's teammates are happily anticipating his return to uniform.

"That would be nice," point guard Tony Parker said. "He's been looking good in practice, so hopefully he can play."

Parker cools heels: The two days the Spurs took off since beating Utah on Friday seem to have done Parker's pair of sore ankles some good.

Though he wouldn't go so far as to declare himself 100 percent, Parker said he felt better Monday than when the Spurs last played.

Despite some lingering soreness, Parker says he's looking forward to tonight's game against the Warriors, one of the league's most up-tempo teams.

"That's why I'm happy for the two days off," he said, "because it's going to be a lot of running."

Check back in June: The Spurs are off to the best start in club history, winning 17 of their first 20 games. Twelve of those victories have come by a double-digit margin, and two of them have come with their best player, Duncan, sidelined.

Forgive the Spurs, however, if they aren't planning another river parade just yet.

"We've had bad starts in the past, and we've had good starts in the past," Popovich said. "Neither one is indicative of whether we won a championship."

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