NBA News and Notes May 7

NBA News and Notes May 7

Utah at L.A. (Game 2)
By Brian Edwards

Gamblers have been absolutely feasting on winners by riding the Lakers so far in the 2008 NBA Playoffs. Bettors get another chance to back this money-making machine when Los Angeles (62-25 straight up, 52-33 against the spread) plays host to the Jazz on Wednesday night in Game 2 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals matchup.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened L.A. as a 7½-point favorite with a total of 210 ½. As of Tuesday evening, most spots had the Lakers at 6½ with a 209½-point tally. Utah (58-31 SU, 49-40 ATS) is plus 250 on the money line (risk $100 to win $250).

LVSC has adjusted the series price with the Lakers now minus 900 to advance to the West finals. The Jazz are plus 600 on the comeback.
   
Phil Jackson’s team is unbeaten both SU and ATS through five post-season games. The Lakers captured a 109-98 win over Utah in Game 1, taking the cash as eight-point ‘chalk.’

Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 38 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds. Bryant drained 21-of-23 shots from the charity stripe and 8-of-16 from the floor. Pau Gasol added 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocked shots. Lamar Odom chipped in with 16 points and nine boards.

Mehmet Okur paced six double-figure scorers for Utah, finishing with 21 points and 19 rebounds. Deron Williams nearly had a triple-double with 14 points, nine boards and nine assists, but he made just 5-of-18 attempts from the field. Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 14 rebounds in the losing effort, but he also fouled out and committed seven turnovers.

The 207 combined points fell ‘under’ the 212 ½-point total. However, bettors who took the ‘over’ in the second half were able to cash an extremely fortunate cover. For those same gamblers who had the ‘under’ for the game, a beautiful middle (or ‘hedge’) came through.

With L.A. leading 54-41 at intermission, oddsmakers made the second-half total 108 ½, equating to 203 ½ for the game (108.5+95). Gamblers that played the ‘under’ at halftime appeared to be looking good until a slew of meaningless fouls resulted in 19 points scored in the last 96 seconds.

Los Angeles has won four of five head-to-head meetings (both SU and ATS) against Utah this year. The Lakers have taken all three encounters at Staples Center by double-digit margins (119-109, 123-109 and 109-98).

The ‘over’ is 3-2 in the five head-to-head meetings, 2-1 at Staples. With that said, the Lakes have seen four consecutive ‘unders’ in these playoffs.

The ‘over’ is 22-21 for the Lakers at home this year, 23-21 for the Jazz on the road.

After Jerry Sloan’s team won both Games 1 and 2 at Houston in the first round, it has dropped back-to-back road assignments. The first was a 95-69 defeat against the Rockets in Game 5 of their series.

On the other hand, the Lakers haven’t tasted a home loss since March 28 when the Grizzlies pulled a shocking upset. Since then, L.A. has won nine straight at Staples. The Lakers have taken the money in five consecutive home outings.

For the season, Utah is 19-26 both SU and ATS on the road. Meanwhile, L.A. is 33-11 SU and 23-20 ATS at home.

TNT will provide television coverage of Game 2 at 10:35 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**


--Here’s a stat that doesn’t bode well for the Jazz: Phil Jackson’s teams are 39-0 in playoff series after winning Game 1.

--Utah was just 4-for-19 from 3-point range in Game 1, while the Lakers buried 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.

--What’s the future of the Atlanta Hawks? As it stands at this moment, head coach Mike Woodson and General Manager Billy Knight are not on speaking terms. Both of their contracts expire at the end of June and one or the other (if not both) will not be retained. As for the players, Josh Childress and Josh Smith are both restricted free agents who will have plenty of suitors. However, the Hawks have the right to match any contract they might sign with another squad.

More Nuggets to follow after Boston and Cleveland conclude Game 1 of their East semifinals matchup.

vegasinsider.com

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 7

Detroit at Orlando, Game 3
By Brian Edwards

Detroit has to feel fortunate to arrive in Orlando for tonight’s Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal matchup. The NBA indicated as much on Tuesday, stating that Chauncey Billups’ 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter shouldn’t have counted.

With Orlando leading 76-75 with 5.1 seconds left in the third, Billups dribbled the ball the length of the floor before passing to Rodney Stuckey. The rookie quickly went up for a shot, only to notice 4.8 seconds remaining. That visual caused Stuckey to think plenty of time remained and therefore he passed back to Billups, who buried a 3-pointer.

Turns out, the clock malfunction (or ‘home-cooking’) occurred with 4.8 seconds left. The NBA indicated that 5.7 seconds ticked off before Billups’ 3-ball, but officials at the game didn’t have the technology to review the play.

Those three points were vital at crunch time. After all, Detroit’s lead was three with just 11 seconds left.

In the end, the Pistons produced a 100-93 win that was a miracle cover for backers that placed bets as six-point favorites. The 193 combined points jumped ‘over’ the 185-point total.

Billups had a game-high 28 points, draining all 10 of his free-throw attempts. Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince scored 17 points apiece, while Richard Hamilton added 14.

Dwight Howard bounced back from a poor Game 1 performance by scoring 22 points to go with 18 rebounds and two blocked shots. Jameer Nelson also scored 22 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Rashard Lewis added 20 points.

Detroit (65-25 straight up, 51-38 against the spread) has won five consecutive games both SU and ATS. Since halftime of Game 4 at Philadelphia, the Pistons have flipped on the switch.

However, we’ve all seen Detroit’s propensity for occasionally taking a game off, and this Game 3 situation in the Sunshine State seemingly sets up like your classic letdown spot.

Orlando (56-33 SU, 53-33 ATS) was a money-making machine at home this year, compiling a 28-16 SU record and 25-16-3 ATS mark. The Magic won all three home games against Toronto in the first round, posting a 2-1 spread record.

Although Stan Van Gundy’s team is tough at home, we can’t forget Detroit’s two wins in Orlando last year to sweep the first-round series between these clubs. The Pistons went into O-Town and collected a 93-77 win in Game 3 and followed that with a 97-93 victory in the clincher.

The ‘under’ is 24-18-2 for Orlando in its home games, 24-20 for Detroit in its road assignements.

TNT will have the telecast at 8:05 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The ‘under’ is 12-4 in Orlando’s last 16 games.

--Orlando is 5-1 ATS in its last six ‘chalk’ spots.

--Detroit has lost five in a row both SU and ATS when listed as an underdog.

vegasinsider.com.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 7

NBA Today

Utah at Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 p.m. EDT). MVP Kobe Bryant scored 38 points to lead the Lakers to a 109-98 win over the Jazz in Game 1 on Sunday.

STAR

-Kevin Garnett, Celtics, had 28 points and eight rebounds as Boston took a 1-0 series lead over Cleveland with a 76-72 victory.

OFF-TARGET

Cleveland's LeBron James, shooting 48 percent from the field and averaging almost 30 points per game in the postseason, went just 2-for-18 for 12 points with 10 turnovers in a 76-72 loss to Boston in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday night.

MVP

Kobe Bryant earned the NBA MVP award on Tuesday after leading the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference. Bryant received 82 first-place votes and 1,100 points in the media vote. He was followed by New Orleans' Chris Paul (28 and 894), Boston's Kevin Garnett (15 and 670) and Cleveland's LeBron James (1 and 438). Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.84 steals while playing all 82 games despite tearing a ligament in his right pinkie in February.

OOPS

The NBA admitted Chauncey Billups' 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter of Monday's Detroit-Orlando playoff game should not have counted, but said referees weren't allowed to review instant replay to determine that. League president Joel Litvin also said the disputed shot, which gave the Pistons a 78-76 lead in their 100-93 victory, could not have been replayed after the clock malfunction was discovered.

BAD SIGN

San Antonio trails New Orleans 2-0 in their Western Conference semifinal series heading into Thursday's Game 3 at home. The last time the Spurs were down 0-2 was 2001, when they were swept by the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

SURGERY

Houston guard Tracy McGrady had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and left knee on Tuesday. Dr. Tom Clanton, the team physician, told the Houston Chronicle that no structural damage was found in the ligament or cartilage of McGrady's knee.

SPEAKING

``This was two heavyweights, just body-punching. There was no finesse, no jabs, just an all-out, beat-down, defensive fight.'' - Boston's Kevin Garnett after a 76-72 series-opening victory over Cleveland on Tuesday night.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 7

Wednesday's best NBA bets
COVERS.com

Detroit at Orlando -3½ , 186

On Monday night, Dwight Howard dropped 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis cracked 20 points too, and the Magic still couldn’t get past the Pistons in Detroit. So now what?

Well, the good news for Magic bettors is the series now shifts to Orlando for the next two games and the hometown team is going to need all the help it can get. The Magic outrebounded Detroit 40-35 in Game 2, hit 11 treys, and held their own in the paint but still couldn’t get past the Pistons.

That probably isn’t a good sign.

Pick: Pistons


Utah at L.A. Lakers - 6½, 209½

You can’t say the Jazz didn’t put out a solid team effort in Game 1’s 11-point loss to the Lakers - Utah had six players score in double figures. But the problem was that nobody had more than 21 points, while Kobe Bryant came up with 38 for the Lakers.

The Jazz didn’t make it easy on him. Bryant was sent to the line 23 times, but responded by nailing 21 of those free throws.

Now all the Lakers are talking about is improving their rebounding for Game 2 after the Jazz pounded them 58-41 on the glass. If L.A. can cut into that margin and get some more secondary scoring from Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, Utah will be in serious trouble heading back home for Game 3.

Pick: Lakers

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 7

Lakers are beating their opponents and the spread.

They have made it look easy so far in playoffs.

Before this year's NBA playoffs began, most basketball experts predicted that the competition in the Western Conference was going to be brutal. Each of the top eight teams finished the regular season with at least 50 victories and only seven games separated No. 1 from No. 8.

But five games into the Lakers' postseason run, they have made a joke out of their Western Conference competition. After completing an easy four-game sweep over the Denver Nuggets in the first round (covering the point spread in each game), the Lakers rolled to an 11-point victory over Utah in Game 1 on Sunday.

As expected, their dominance has been noticed by Las Vegas oddsmakers, who have made them 6 1/2 -point favorites for tonight's Game 2.

Since a mini-slump late in the regular season, the Lakers are 9-2 against the spread over their last 11 games, including the playoffs. An impressive record for a team that has been favored for 18 of its last 19 games overall and often overcame inflated point spreads.

In recent years, the Lakers -- 7-0 against the point spread in their last seven games against Western Conference opponents this season -- have done well when they've been expected to win in the playoffs.

Over their last 12 postseason games when they've been favored by at least five points, the Lakers are 8-3-1 against the spread.

------

Lakers' over/under note: For Game 1 of the Lakers-Jazz series, the combined over/under point total was 212 1/2 and the under won in the Lakers' 109-98 victory. For tonight's Game 2, the over/under total is 209 1/2 .

In Utah's last 27 games versus a team from the Pacific Division, the under is 20-7, and in Utah's last four games as a road underdog, the under is 4-0.

Also, the under is 4-0 in the Lakers' last four games overall.

LATIMES.COM

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