NBA Notes and Quotes

NBA Notes and Quotes

NBA Notes and Quotes
By TED SEVRANSKY

There is plenty of potential profit to be earned betting the NBA during the homestretch, as teams play out their final half dozen games. Much of that potential profit comes from gauging the effort level of lottery bound squads. Some of these losing teams have packed it in already, simply going though the motions of the final two weeks of the regular season. Other losing squads are hanging tough, giving quality efforts on a nightly basis. In this week’s NBA Notes and Quotes, we’ll be taking a look at the bottom feeders in an effort to gauge which teams are worthy of support down the stretch, and which teams are worthy of betting against as often as possible.

The hapless New York Knicks have actually shown signs of life in recent games. The Knicks lost all five games on their recent road trip, but they were competitive enough to cover the pointspread in four of those five contests. Then, in a tough spot upon their return home to Madison Square Garden, New York played with great passion and energy in a win over Orlando, earning their first straight up win over a playoff bound foe since the week following the All Star break. Head coach Isiah Thomas used a lineup of Mardy Collins, Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson, Randolph Morris and Renaldo Balkman during crunch time against the Magic, and his youngsters shined under the pressure.

Wilson Chandler: “When you’re winning, it’s (New York) a great place to be.”

Isiah, talking about his future coaching the team now that Donnie Walsh has replaced him as team president: “I'm comfortable in the position I'm in, and I'm comfortable with the way things are going.”

The equally hapless Los Angeles Clippers got a temporary boost when Elton Brand returned to the lineup this past week following a year long absence, but with Tim Thomas, Cuttino Mobley and Chris Kaman all still battling injuries, L.A. is a long way from being a healthy team. Corey Maggette was the latest starter to go down, straining his hamstring in the first quarter of a 26-point home loss to the Rockets on Sunday. For a team that is now 4-21 SU in their last 25 games (8-17 ATS), we’re really not seeing much effort out of the Clips these days.

Yet Elton Brand is showing signs that he’ll be here for the long haul, despite having the opportunity to opt out of his contract at the end of the season. “I definitely want to be here," he told reporters. "As long as everything’s fair, there shouldn’t be a problem…. I feel good. I don’t have any limitations when I’m playing. I can get 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) if I get the minutes.”

Reggie Theus’s Sacramento Kings are playing hard down the stretch, fighting and scrapping on nearly every possession. Yes, the Kings came up short against the Lakers on Sunday, following an upset win at Denver with only eight healthy bodies available the previous night thanks to injuries to Ron Artest, Brad Miller and starting point guard Beno Udrih. But don’t worry too much about that defeat.

Shooting guard Kevin Martin: “We ran out of gas. They came in here with some rested legs. We played a hard-fought game last night with only seven or eight players. You can’t always say that’s an excuse, but you can just tell we ran out of gas.”

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen Sacramento win and cover as underdogs against the Lakers, Nuggets, Rockets and Warriors. They’ve won and covered four of their last five, and are 6-2 SU in their last eight games at Arco Arena, still fighting for every victory they can get.

I don’t even know what to write about the futility of the Miami Heat, an embarrassment to the league for openly tanking since the All Star break. Pat Riley’s squad finished the weekend with another ugly loss at Detroit, their sixth consecutive defeat by 14 points or more. Detroit beat Miami by margin despite fielding a rotation littered with backups. Every single Heat starter from the beginning of the year has either suffered a mysterious injury or has been traded. Of the nine players that received playing time in the loss to the Pistons, seven have spent time on an NBDL roster earlier this season.

Guard Chris Quinn: “Obviously, it’s not the best situation, not the situation we thought we’d be in at the beginning of the year.”

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Brandon Roy returned from a groin injury on Sunday against the Spurs, but it didn’t help the Blazers fortunes very much as they scored only 65 points in yet another sluggish loss at the Rose Garden. The Blazers are limping down the stretch, losing each of their last five games by seven points or more. Their homecourt edge is non-existent these days, just 4-14 ATS in their last 18 at home. To make matters worse, the Blazers lost starting center Joel Przybilla for the remainder of the season after suffering a broken hand against San Antonio, while fellow starter Martell Webster had been sidelined with an irregular heartbeat. Portland’s still talking the talk even if they are not walking the walk.

LaMarcus Aldridge: “Of course winning is the goal to finish out the season. We want to win every game.”

Brandon Roy: “There’s five games left and we’re going to do our best to finish strong.”

The Chicago Bulls have gone 5-10 SU, 6-9 ATS in their last fifteen ballgames in large part due to their deficiencies on the defensive end of the court, particularly on the highway. Chicago has allowed opponents to score more than 100 in nine of 11 road games since the All Star break, 9-1-1 to the over during that span. With interim head coach Jim Boylan looking more and more like a lame duck, there’s absolutely no reason to expect any improvement from Chicago in the ‘defensive intensity’ department, as we saw on full display in their double digit home loss to the Wizards over the weekend.

Forward Luol Deng: “The whole season, there’s a lot of things to point at. Whatever it is, we just have to take it and accept it. I thought we worked hard and prepared ourselves, physically. But there’s a lot of growth that we have to do mentally. There’s a lot that we have to deal with mentally. I think we just need to grow up mentally. I don’t think we had it this year.”

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