NBA News and Notes May 27

NBA News and Notes May 27

Odom, Lakers look to get back on track

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Lamar Odom had a sleepless night after the Lakers' Game 3 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Pau Gasol said it's always hard to get shut eye after a tough loss and Derek Fisher said he slept ``decent enough.''

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson wasn't surprised.

``I like players to get their rest, there's no doubt,'' Jackson said Monday. ``But any time you have a game of that importance and you don't play well, you're upset. It's bothersome.''

Bothered might be an understatement for Odom.

``I got to the point where I couldn't make a shot,'' said Odom, who went 2-of-11 from the field and finished with seven points on Sunday. ``But then I got to the free throw line and I wasn't making free throws. That can't happen.''

Odom, who hit just 3-of-8 from the foul line, wasn't alone in his struggles in the 103-84 loss. Fisher scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting and Gasol fared somewhat better, going 7-of-18 for 15 points.

``A little bit indecisive, not aggressive enough finishing,'' Gasol said of his offensive performance. ``I didn't finish strong enough. I was just kind of floating a few shots and they weren't going in.''

The Lakers hold a 2-1 advantage in the Western Conference finals. Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday in San Antonio.

Jackson said he's ``comfortable we can get Lamar back on track.''

``Once it gets going bad for him, there's a lot of times he can't turn his game around in the course of the night,'' Jackson said. ``So that's one of the things we keep talking about, finding a way to recapture your ball game even though things haven't gone well for you early.''

While league MVP Kobe Bryant may be as close to a one-man team as there is - his four fourth-quarter 3-pointers got the Lakers as close as 12 late in Game 3 - more help from Odom, Gasol and Fisher could go a long way toward the Lakers stealing one in San Antonio.

``I don't think they did anything differently,'' Bryant said of Gasol and Odom's shooting. ``I think they just missed a lot that they usually normally make, so you just chalk it up.''

Jackson said Fisher simply needs more shots.

``We've got to get six, eight shots for him, in that kind of minutes where he has an opportunity to help us,'' Jackson said.

Fisher and Odom also struggled in the Lakers' come-from-behind Game 1 victory. Odom scored eight points on 3-of-12 shooting in the 89-85 win and Fisher had four points while going 1-of-9.

The Lakers shot nearly 43 percent (35-of-82) from the field in Game 3, but the Spurs hit 38-of-74 (51 percent), including 10 3-pointers.

Manu Ginobili hit five 3s and broke out of his shooting slump to lead San Antonio with 30 points off the bench. Bryant led the Lakers with 30.

``Making shots is part of it. And we did a better job of that,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ``They (Los Angeles) missed some shots that could have gone in without a doubt.''

Offense aside, Tim Duncan said the Spurs always return to their old standby: defense.

``We have to contain them, limit what they do,'' Duncan said. ``They have the best scorer in the league. He can get off in stretches. We have to be able to contain the rest of their team and understand that defense is what's going to get us over the hump.''

Now it's the Lakers trying to get over the hump of Sunday's loss as they look for a Game 4 win - one Bryant said the Lakers want ``in the worst way'' - to set up the chance to eliminate the defending champions in five games.

Fisher said doing that requires both keeping the Game 3 loss close, and also letting go of it.

``I think you hold on to the fact that it's very frustrating and very disappointing in the sense that we couldn't give ourselves a chance to win the game,'' Fisher said. ``So you hold on to some of that frustration, some of that resentment that you have for the opponent. You keep that.

``But you let go of the fact that you lost a game. ... You get past that part of it and you keep your focus on the things that will motivate you and help you to win the next game.''

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Lakers vs. Spurs: Game 4

Home-court advantage continues to be a huge factor in the NBA playoffs. The Spurs became the latest team to take advantage of familiar surroundings, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio lost to the Lakers 89-85 in Game 1 and 101-71 in Game 2, both in Los Angeles, but they struck back in Game 3 with a 103-84 victory as a 5.5-point favorite.

The biggest difference for the Spurs in their Game 3 win was Manu Ginobili. In the first two games Ginobili scored a total of only 17 points, but in Game 3 he erupted for a team-high 30 points. The NBA’s top sixth man shot 9-for-15 from the floor, which included five big three-pointers. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker also woke up in Game 3, as Duncan recorded another double-double with 22 points and 21 rebounds, while Parker chipped in with 20 points.

As usual Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points in the loss after shooting 13-of-23 from the field. However, Bryant was limited to only one assist, his lowest total of the playoffs since the Lakers’ postseason opener versus the Nuggets. Pau Gasol added 15 points for Los Angeles, making him and Bryant the only Lakers’ starters to score in double digits in the loss.

If the trend continues in Game 4 then the Spurs should roll to another win and tie the series 2-2. The Spurs have not dropped a single game at home during the postseason after going a perfect 7-0 at the AT&T Center. If you include the regular season, the Spurs have only lost once in their last 15 games at home. Not surprisingly the Spurs opened as a 4.5-point favorite at BetJamaica for Game 4.

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NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) L.A. Lakers (10-3, 8-4-1 ATS) at (3) San Antonio (9-6, 8-6-1 ATS)


After an impressive Game 3 victory on Sunday night, the defending champion Spurs now look to even this best-of-seven Western Conference finals series when they host the Lakers at the AT&T Center.

Following two sub-par efforts in Games 1 and 2 in Los Angeles, the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili came to life on Sunday, scoring a team-high 30 points on 9 of 15 shooting to lead San Antonio to a 103-84 victory, easily cashing as a 5½-point home favorite. Tim Duncan added 22 points and a game-high 21 rebounds, while Tony Parker tallied 20 points for the Spurs, who shot 51.4 percent from the field, including a blistering 55.6 percent from three-point land (10-for-18).

Los Angeles, which averaged 95 points on 48 percent shooting in two home wins to begin this series, were limited to 42.7 percent shooting in Game 3, including missing 17 of 23 attempts from long range. Kobe Bryant had 30 points to pace the Lakers, who finished with their lowest point output of the postseason.

The Lakers still lead the season series 4-3, with the home team winning all seven contests, but the Spurs have the advantage at the betting window, going 5-2 ATS. Los Angeles has eliminated San Antonio seven times in the last 10 postseason head-to-head matchups, going 3-0 in conference finals. Also, L.A. coach Phil Jackson has never lost a seven-game postseason series when winning Game 1, going 40-0.

The Lakers are now 3-3 SU and 3-2-1 ATS on the highway in the postseason. Also, despite Sunday’s defeat, they sport positive pointspread streaks of 10-4-1 overall, 6-2-1 when playing on one day of rest, 35-17-2 on the road, 22-9-2 as a ‘dog, 8-2-1 as an underdog, 12-3-2 as a road ‘dog and 10-3 on Tuesdays. However, the Lakers are still just 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 games against teams from the Southwest Division, 1-5 ATS in their last four conference finals contests and 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a SU loss.

With the Game 3 win, the Spurs improved to 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight home games (5-1-1 in the postseason) and 6-2-1 ATS at home against teams with a winning road mark. Gregg Popovich’s squad is also on pointspread hot streaks of 5-0-1 as a favorite (all at home), 17-4-2 as a playoff favorite, 5-1-2 on Tuesdays and 14-4 in conference finals action (including 7-2 in the last nine). On the downside, the Spurs are only 4-6-1 ATS in their last 11 against Pacific Division foes.

The first three games in this series have stayed under the total, making the under 7-2 in the last nine series meetings between these squads. Also, the under is 9-1 in the last 10 head-to-head clashes at the AT&T Center. Finally, for San Antonio, the under is on runs of 7-0 overall, 3-0 at home, 4-1 in the conference finals, 5-0 against the Pacific Division and 5-0-1 after a SU win, while the under is 5-1 in the Lakers’ last six games as an underdog (all on the road).

ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN ANTONIO and UNDER

GAMETIMEPICKS.COM

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Lakers-Spurs, Game 4
By Chris David

After being held to 85 and 71 points in the first two games of the Western Conference finals, most expected the defending champs to bounce back and that’s exactly what San Antonio did on Sunday.

The Spurs shot a blistering 51.4 percent from the field, including 10-of-18 (55.6%) from downtown en route to their 103-84 victory over the Lakers in Game 3.

San Antonio led 49-39 at the break and increased its lead to 12 after three quarters before stepping on the gas in the final stanza and cruising to the double-digit win.

Greg Popovich’s team easily covered the number for the game (-5), first half (-3) and second half (-1), completing the trifecta.

The combined 187 points slid ‘under’ the closing total of 194 points. Despite putting up 38 points in the third quarter, the two teams closed the fourth quarter with 61 points. The 99-point effort in the second half helped total bettors cash the ‘over’ – 97.

Similar to the first two installments, the winning team came down to which club shot the ball better. The Lakers shot 43 and 55 percent at home, but only 42 percent on Saturday.

The club was also embarrassing from the free throw line, connecting on 8-of-17 (47%) attempts. Even more surprising is that league’s Most Valuable Player, Kobe Bryant, only earned one trip to the charity stripe. Bryant finished with 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting while Pau Gasol added 15 points in a losing effort.

After taking 10-plus free throw attempts in all six games against Utah in the conference semifinals, Bryant has only taken a total of six free throws in three games versus the Spurs.

Manu Ginobili didn’t have a problem getting to the line in Game 3, earning and making all seven trips. Manu lit up the stat sheet for 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including five bombs from 3-point land. Tim Duncan controlled the paint with 22 points and 21 boards and point guard Tony Parker paced the team with 20 points and five assists.

TNT will offer up national coverage of Game 4 at 9:05 p.m. EDT.

Gambling Notes:

-- Despite the 19-point win in Game 3, oddsmakers have dropped the Spurs from 5½-point to 4½-point favorites for Game 4. The total is hovering between 192 and 193 points.

-- San Antonio has won all seven of its playoff games at AT&T Center and the last four wins have been by double digits. The club is 4-2-1 ATS during this stretch.

-- The Lakers’ loss in Game 3 was just their third of the playoffs. All three setbacks for the team have come on the road.

-- San Antonio has watched the ‘under’ go on a 7-0 run in the playoffs.

-- The Lakers have watched the ‘under’ go 8-5 in the postseason, even though they’ve eclipsed the century mark in nine of the 13 battles.

vegasinsider.com

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NBA Today

L.A. Lakers at San Antonio (9 p.m. EDT). The Spurs, who defeated the Lakers in Game 3 on Sunday night behind Manu Ginobili's 30 points, will attempt to tie the Western Conference finals at 2-2.

STAR

- Antonio McDyess, Pistons, scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lift Detroit to a 94-75 series-evening win over Boston.

BOUNCING BACK

After a 94-80 home loss to Boston on Saturday, Detroit came back with a 94-75 win against the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night. The win evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2 with Game 5 on Wednesday night in Boston and then Game 6 on Saturday night in Detroit. The Pistons are now 5-0 in games following losses in the playoffs.

RIPPING THE CORDS

Detroit guard Richard Hamilton played in his 114th postseason game Monday night, breaking Bill Laimbeer's team record, as the Pistons beat Boston 94-75 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Hamilton scored 20 points, his 71st 20-plus point playoff performance since 2003. Hamilton trails only San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, who has 73 20-point postseason games during the same span.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Despite being down 2-1 to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals, San Antonio is happy to be at home. Following their 103-84 win on Sunday, the Spurs are a perfect 7-0 at home in the postseason. In its second-round series against New Orleans, San Antonio was also in an 0-2 hole, but the Spurs won the next two games at home before winning the series in seven games.

SPEAKING

``They bumped us off spots and were more physical and aggressive all night. Usually the winner is the team that was more aggressive.'' - Boston coach Doc Rivers after the Celtics lost to Detroit 94-75 in Game 4 on the Eastern Conference finals. Boston is now 1-7 on the road and 0-6 when trailing after three quarters in the playoffs.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 27

Tuesday’s best NBA bet
COVERS.com

L.A. Lakers at San Antonio -4½, 192

Don’t count the grizzled San Antonio Spurs out just yet. After two frustrating losses to open their series against the Lakers, San Antonio bounced back with a huge 19-point win in Game 3.

Perimeter defense was a big problem for the Lakers throughout the game. Manu Ginobili, who is playing through a sore ankle and a torn fingernail, led the charge by drilling five of San Antonio’s 10 treys to finish with 30 points.  Meanwhile, Tim Duncan was a handful inside as he finished with 22 points and 21 rebounds.

Outside of another day at the office (30 points, five assists) from Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles didn’t have much of an answer for the Spurs all night long.

"It's a good experience for us to play against the defending champs and have them kick our butts the way they did," Kobe Bryant told reporters. "I think we grew up a lot tonight."

Pick: Lakers

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