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NBA News and Notes Saturday 5/23

NBA News and Notes Saturday 5/23

Lakers-Nuggets, Game 3
By Brian Edwards

After letting Game 1 get away from it, Denver bounced back to win Game 2 at Los Angeles by a 106-103 count. The Nuggets knotted the series at 1-1 by winning outright as 5 ½-point underdogs. Gamblers backing George Karl’s team on the money line brought home a generous plus-200 payout (paid $200 on $100 wagers).

Carmelo Anthony continued to dominate the Lakers, scoring 34 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Chauncey Billups had 27 points, four assists and only one turnover, while Kenyon Martin finished with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Linas Kleiza provided a huge lift off the bench with 16 points and eight boards in just 22 minutes of action.

Los Angeles jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half, only to allow the Nuggets to rally and trim their deficit to just one at 55-54 at halftime. The Lakers took a seven-point advantage at one point in the third quarter, but that was the most separation they could get.
Denver took the lead early in the fourth quarter and was seemingly in control from there. Kobe Bryant brought L.A. even at 101-101 when he buried a fadeaway jumper with 49 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Nene made a nice pass under the basket to Kenyon Martin whose bucket put the Nuggets back in front at the 32-second mark.

L.A.’s Trevor Ariza, who was otherwise brilliant with 20 points and four steals on just seven shots from the field, committed a turnover when Nene got a crucial steal. Billups subsequently knocked down back-to-back free throws.

A few moments later, Pau Gasol hit a pair at the charity stripe to make it 105-103. With four ticks left, Billups made just one of two at the line to give the Lakers a chance to tie. However, Derek Fisher’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.

For Game 3, Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Denver (63-31 straight up, 56-37-1 against the spread) as a 2 ½-point favorite with a total of 211. As of Friday night, most books were listing the Nuggets as 3 ½-point ‘chalk’ with the tally increased a tad to 211 ½.

Denver has been absolutely dynamite in the Mile High City this year, compiling a 39-8 SU record and a 29-17-1 ATS mark at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets have been an especially lucrative squad to bet on during these playoffs regardless of venue. In fact, they now own an incredible 11-0-1 spread ledger in the postseason.

In six home games during the playoffs, Carmelo and Co. have posted a 6-0 record both SU and ATS, winning each by 12 points or more. When Los Angeles (74-22 SU, 49-47 ATS) made its first appearance at Denver back on Nov. 1, the Billups-for-Allen-Iverson trade had not gone down yet. The Lakers won that matchup 104-97, but the Nuggets took the money as 8 ½-point home underdogs.

On Feb. 27 with Billups clearly established as Denver’s team leader, the Lakers dropped a 90-79 decision at Pepsi Center as two-point road favorites.

Phil Jackson’s team is 31-15 SU and 25-21 on the road this year. During the playoffs, the Lakers are 2-3 both SU and ATS in five road games against Utah (twice, 1-1 both SU and ATS) and Houston (1-2 both SU and ATS).

L.A. has only been an underdog seven times all season long. The Lakers are thrived in such spots, going 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS. Denver has been a single-digit home ‘chalk’ 28 times, posting an 18-9-1 spread record.

The ‘over’ is 48-46 overall for the Nuggets, 27-20 in their home games. The ‘over’ is on a 10-4 run in Denver’s last 14 home outings.

Meanwhile, the ‘under’ is 49-46-1 overall for the Lakers, 24-21 in their road assignments. The ‘under’ has cashed in six straight L.A. games and 10 of its last 12. In addition, the ‘under’ is on an 8-1 run in the last nine head-to-head encounters between these Western Conference adversaries. And obviously, the ‘under’ has been a winner in the first two games of this series.

Tip-off is scheduled for Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--According to LVSC’s recommendations, the adjusted series price has the Lakers as minus-130 favorites. The Nuggets are plus-110 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $110).

--Prior to Game 2, the adjusted series price was L.A. minus-400 with Denver available at plus-300.

--I’m not sure how much the following stats should be valued, if at all. Nevertheless, I’ll mention the fact that Denver is 32-17-1 ATS when playing on one day of rest. On the flip side, the Lakers have limped to a 23-33 spread record in one-day-of-rest situations.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Saturday 5/23



(1) L.A. Lakers (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS) at (2) Denver (9-3 SU, 12-0 ATS)

The Nuggets, who earned a split in Los Angeles to steal home-court advantage and remain perfect against the number in the playoffs, return to the Pepsi Center for Game 3 of the best-of-7 Western Conference finals against the Lakers.

Denver trailed by 14 points in the second quarter Thursday before rallying within one point by halftime, then hung with Los Angeles the rest of the way and claimed a 106-103 victory as a 5½-point road underdog. Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points – his fifth straight game with at least 30 points – and hit 10 of 14 free throws while pulling downd nine rebounds. Chauncey Billups went 13 of 16 from the foul line and finished with 27 points, and the Nuggets also got a huge boost from reserve Linas Kleiza (16 points, eight rebounds), who hit 4 of 7 three-pointers.

Los Angeles got 32 points from Kobe Bryant in the Game 2 defeat while Trevor Ariza added 20 points and Pau Gasol racked up 17 points and 17 rebounds. But the Nuggets were able to fend off the Lakers by hitting 17 straight free throws before a Billups miss in the waning seconds.  Denver finished 29 of 37 from the charity stripe and L.A. made 27 of 35.

Denver had lost 11 straight playoff games to the Lakers before breaking through Thursday, and by cashing in both contests at Staples Center, the Nuggets are 3-3 ATS (2-4 SU) against Los Angeles this year. However, going back a couple of seasons, the Lakers are still 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings.

Denver is on a 16-game winning streak at the Pepsi Center and is 39-8 SU (29-17-1 ATS) on the year at home. That includes a 6-0 SU and ATS mark in the playoffs, with an average margin of victory of 17.5 points per game (113-95.5). Los Angeles, meanwhile, is 31-15 SU (25-21 ATS) on the highway this season but 2-3 SU and ATS in the playoffs, including double-digit losses in Games 4 and 6 at Houston in the conference semifinals

The Nuggets are 23-6 SU in their last 29 overall, and along with their perfect playoff ATS mark, they are on a bundle of spread-covering sprees, including 22-6 overall, 6-0 as a playoff chalk, 10-1 overall laying points and 7-1 against the Pacific Division. The lone negative for Denver is its 0-4 ATS mark as a playoff favorite of less than five points.

The Lakers are on ATS upswings of 20-7-2 as a road pup, 5-0 following a SU loss and 7-3 after a non-cover, but they carry negative pointspread streaks of 1-7 after putting up 100 or more points, 1-5 against the Northwest Division, 3-7 on the highway and 3-7 in the conference finals.

The over for Denver is on a 10-4 run at home, but the under is 5-2 in its last seven as a favorite of less than five points. For Los Angeles, the under is on surges of 10-2 overall (6-0 in the last six), 4-1 on the road, 7-0 in the conference finals and 15-2 after a SU loss.

Finally, with the first two games of this series staying low, the under is now 8-1 in the last nine clashes between these two teams, with the last five meetings in Denver staying under the posted price.



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Re: NBA News and Notes Saturday 5/23

Game of the day: Lakers at Nuggets
By Alex Smart

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets (-3.5, 211)

Playoff staple no longer

As the fourth quarter of Game 2 reached its conclusion at the Staples Center Thursday night, the Lakers' dominance over the Denver Nuggets in the postseason was put to an abrupt halt.

Chauncey Billups, who is no stranger to conference finals, sank 3-of-4 free throws following Kenyon Martin's running layup, securing the Nuggets 106-103 victory in front of a star-studded crowd that included Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington and Will Ferrell.

"To get one on the road is always tough. We came in and got it," Carmelo Anthony told reporters. "We're mentally tough and we showed that in this game coming off the loss that we gave away in Game 1."

Denver not only earned its first victory of the series, but also its first ever playoff win against the Lakers. Los Angeles held an all-time 11-0 lead over the Nuggets, dating back to 1985. It was the second-longest postseason winning streak against a single team in NBA history.

Big bright shining stars

In Game 1, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant tallied 40 points, six rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot. Also in Game 1, Nuggets forward, Carmelo Anthony tallied 39 points, six rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot. Los Angeles won by two.

In Game 2, Anthony collected 34 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one block and a steal. Kobe wasn't far behind, racking up 32 points, five boards, three assists with a block and steal as well.

Each team's star rose to the occasion, to say the least.

LeBron James has dominated discussion boards, television shows, text messages and every article possible (all despite a Game 1 loss to Orlando), even though Kobe and Melo have combined to make the Western Conference finals an instant classic.

Anthony even made history Thursday night, when he became the first Nuggets player to score over 30 points in five consecutive postseason games - a feat that hadn't been accomplished since 1976.

By no means was Melo alone in Denver's Game 2 victory. Billups dropped in 27 points while grabbing 16 boards and Linas Kleiza and Kenyon Martin each chipped in with 16 points each.

Lakers center, Pau Gasol notched 17 points and 17 boards while Trevor Ariza added 20.

"They have home-court advantage now," Bryant told the media."Now it's time to go to Denver, see if we can do the same. We're not the best road team in the NBA for no reason."

Los Angeles finished the regular season 29-12 on the road, two games better than every other NBA team. The Lakers finished 1-1 in Denver during the regular season, losing 90-79 on their last trip to the Mile High City February 27.

Trends times three

With each of the first two games in this series being decided by one possession (two and three points respectively), playing the home town Nuggets at -3.5 could still be a risk – even with Denver posting a 5-0 record ATS in its last five Saturday games, a 7-0 record ATS in its last seven home games and a 10-1 record ATS in its last 11 games on one day's rest.

Consider playing the under, which is 5-0 in the last five games played in Denver and 8-1 in the last nine meetings overall.

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