cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:01 AM


Thursday, March 15

NCAA previews & picks: Thursday's East Region action

No. 9 Southern Miss Golden Eagles vs. No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats (-5, 134)

THE STORY: For the third straight season and for the fourth time in the last five years, Kansas State has advanced to the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats received an 8-seed in the East Region and will take on No. 9 seed Southern Mississippi in the Round of 64 in Pittsburgh. Kansas State, which defeated three top-10 teams, received an at-large bid after finishing fifth in the Big 12 Conference standings. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, are making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991 after finishing two games back of first-place Memphis in Conference USA. Kansas State won the most recent meeting, a 74-55 victory in 2008 on a neutral court.

PICK: Wildcats

No. 13 Montana Grizzlies No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (-9, 118)

THE STORY: For the third straight season, Wisconsin will begin its NCAA tournament run as a No. 4 seed. The Badgers, who took down Wofford in 2010 and Belmont in 2011, have made it past the Round of 64 in each of the past five seasons. Trying to end that streak will be No. 13 seed Montana, which dominated the Big Sky conference and enters the East Regional riding a 14-game winning streak. The Grizzlies are making their second tournament appearance in three years after missing out in 2011. Both schools do their best work at the defensive end, with the Badgers leading the nation in scoring defense.

PICK: Under

No. 16 UNC-Asheville Bulldogs vs. No. 1 Syracuse Orange (-15, 147)

THE STORY: Second-ranked Syracuse, the Big East regular season champions, received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years. The Orange, who were ranked in the top 5 every week throughout the season, will take on No. 16 UNC-Asheville in the Round of 64 in Pittsburgh as part of the East Region. The Bulldogs are making their third NCAA tournament appearance in the last seven years after winning the Big South Conference. Syracuse is 3-0 in the all-time series, which includes an 81-63 victory in the most recent meeting in 2003. A 16-seed has never defeated a top-seeded team in the tournament’s history.

PICK: Over

No. 12 Harvard Crimson vs. No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores (-5.5, 123)

THE STORY: After struggling through most of the regular season as one of the more disappointing teams in the country, Vanderbilt enters the NCAA tournament as one of the most impressive. The Commodores knocked off No. 1 Kentucky in the SEC championship game to earn an automatic bid and a No. 5 seed in the East Regional. Looming in the Round of 64 is No. 12 seed Harvard, which was ranked in the Top 25 for much of the season and won the Ivy League for the first time to earn its first trip to the tournament since 1946.

PICK: Crimson

No. 15 Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (-17, 130)

THE STORY: Rebuffed in its bid to claim a third consecutive conference tournament title, No. 2 seed Ohio State will instead begin its quest to advance past the regional semifinal round for the first time since 2007. The Buckeyes, coming off of Sunday’s 68-64 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament final, will start that journey when they meet No. 15 seed Loyola-Maryland for the first time ever after the Greyhounds qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1994 with a 48-44 win over Fairfield to claim the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.

PICK: Buckeyes

No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. No. 7 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-1, 133)

THE STORY: Typically, when No. 10 seed West Virginia heads to Pittsburgh, it's to do battle in the “Backyard Brawl”. When the Mountaineers make the 75-mile drive this week, however, it will be to meet No. 7 Gonzaga for the first time in school history. Despite going 4-8 over their final 12 games, the Mountaineers received an at-large bid following an opening-round loss to Connecticut in the Big East tournament. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will be traveling across the country after qualifying for their 14th straight NCAA tournament after their overtime loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC tournament title game.

PICK: Mountaineers

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:03 AM


Thursday, March 15

NCAA previews & picks: Thursday's South Region action

No. 16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (-25, N/A)

THE STORY: The last time they took the floor following a loss, the Wildcats started a 24-game winning streak. Kentucky needs a streak just a quarter of that length to claim its seventh national championship, starting Thursday in Louisville. Despite losing the SEC title game to Vanderbilt on Sunday in New Orleans, the Wildcats remain a strong favorite to return to the Big Easy for the Final Four. Western Kentucky rallied from 16 points down in the final five minutes Tuesday to upend Mississippi Valley State in the opening round, 59-58. WKU saved its best work of the season for the past month. The Hilltoppers were 9-18 on Feb. 22, but have won seven in a row, including four wins in four days at the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

PICK: Kentucky

No. 12 VCU Rams vs. No. 5 Wichita State Shockers (-6.5, 135)

THE STORY: Fifth-seeded Wichita State, the Missouri Valley Conference regular season champion, meets 12th-seeded Virgina Commonwealth, the Colonial tournament champion, in the South Regional. While Wichita State took its NCAA snubbing from a year ago and turned it into an NIT championship, VCU was one of the last at-large teams selected and turned that into a surprise Final Four appearance. The teams, who meet in a Round of 64 game, are coming off different conference tournament results. Wichita State lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals to Illinois State, while VCU captured its second Colonial title in four years.

PICK: Rams

No. 14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. No. 3 Baylor Bears (-7.5, 140)

THE STORY: The last time Baylor made it to the NCAA tournament in 2010, the Bears advanced to the Elite Eight before suffering a 78-71 setback against eventual national champion Duke. If the third-seeded Bears hope to have similar success this year, they’ll have to get past No. 14 South Dakota State in the Round of 64 in the South Region. The Bears, who are making their third NCAA tournament appearance in the last five years, enter off a 90-75 loss to Missouri in the Big 12 championship game. The Jackrabbits, meanwhile, are making their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance after winning the Summit League’s automatic bid. They defeated Western Illinois 52-50 in the conference title game.

PICK: Bears

No. 9 Connecticut Huskies vs. No. 8 Iowa State Hawkeyes (1.5, 136)

THE STORY: The defending national champion Huskies did just enough in the Big East tournament to earn the chance to defend their crown. Connecticut reached the conference quarterfinals and pushed second ranked Syracuse to the limit before losing 58-55. Considered on the bubble for making the NCAA tournament, a late-season three-game winning streak after coach Jim Calhoun returned from spinal surgery pushed Connecticut to 20 victories. The Cyclones are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. Iowa State has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in which the Cyclones went from last in the Big 12 in 2010-11 to third this season. Iowa State’s resume features several signature wins, including an 80-72 victory over then No. 10 Baylor in its regular-season finale.

PICK: Under

No. 13 New Mexico State Aggies vs. No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers (-6, 154)

THE STORY: Expect a high-scoring Round of 64 affair when No. 4 seed Indiana and 13th-seeded and WAC champion New Mexico State get together in the South Regional. Both the Big Ten’s Hoosiers (77.3) and Aggies (78.5) led their respective conferences in scoring, with New Mexico State coming off a title run where it averaged 79.6 points in three tournament games. Indiana is in the tournament for the first time in coach Tom Crean’s four seasons and will try to reverse a decade-long trend: The Hoosiers haven’t reached the second weekend of the tournament since the 2001-2002 team finished as national runner-up. New Mexico State will try to pick up the school’s first NCAA tournament victory since the 1992-1993 squad knocked off Nebraska in the opening round.

PICK: Over

No. 11 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 6 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (-5.5, 134)

THE STORY: Sixth-seeded UNLV will look for its first NCAA tournament victory since 2008 when it takes on No. 11 seed Colorado in the Round of 64 in the South Region. The Runnin’ Rebels, who were knocked out of the Mountain West Conference tournament in the semifinals, are making their third straight and 19th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Buffaloes, meanwhile, earned their spot in the field after defeating Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. Colorado last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2003, when it lost 79-64 to Michigan State in the opening round.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:05 AM


Thursday, March 15

March Madness action report: Day 1 totals on the rise

It used to be a lot easier for oddsmakers setting lines for the NCAA tournament. Twenty points was the default spread for a No. 1 vs. No. 16 seed, but that’s not the case anymore.

“I’m really dating myself when I say these things,” Jimmy Vaccaro, Vegas veteran and Lucky’s sportsbook manager, told ***********, “but Duke is only giving 12 points to Lehigh? I mean, Lee-high? But it’s the right number and it just shows there isn’t as much separation in talent between these schools anymore.”

There are a number of Thursday tourney games with spreads and totals moving up and down. Here’s a look at some of the biggest moves:

(12) Harvard vs. (5) Vanderbilt: Open -8.5, now -5

Most shops opened this battle of brainy schools with a 7-point spread, but the Wynn, the first shop to open tourney lines in Vegas, threw out Vandy -8.5.

Wynn sportsbook director John Avello said he wasn’t sure why the sharps were pounding Harvard and he admitted he didn’t like the idea of being open to a 3-point middle.

"Harvard beat Florida State early in the season and they've got a coach who knows what he's doing," Avello told ***********, "but I thought there'd be more action on Vanderbilt the way they closed the season out."

(9) Southern Mississippi vs. (8) Kansas State: Open -6.5, now -5

KSU finished the Big 12 regular season off in style, winning at Mizzou and Baylor. Southern Mississippi, on the other hand, is on a 1-9 ATS streak, but went 14-3 in its non-conference schedule, with wins over New Mexico State, Colorado State and South Florida.

“I understand this line move,” Avello said. “Southern Miss had a good season.”

Avello also said he expects some buy-back on Kansas State once the tourists get in town, so if you like the Wildcats you might want to bet them now.

(13) Montana vs. (4) Wisconsin: Open 115.5, now 118.5

Wisconsin is the second lowest scoring team (63.9) in the tourney and allowed just 19.5 made field goals per game. We all know this about the Badgers. They’re a tough defensive team that plays an unbearably, slow-paced game.

Still, the total has already been bet up three points in the first three days leading up to Thursday’s tip-off.

(16) UNC-Asheville vs. (1) Syracuse: Open -18, now -15.5

Some offshore books opened lower but most shops installed the Orange as 17 to 17.5-point favorites with a 145.5 total for their first round matchup against the Bulldogs. But the spread and total both moved after word broke that Syracuse’s starting center Fab Melo was ruled ineligible to play in the tournament.

“Melo is not a stat guy,” said Avello, who opened the game at ‘Cuse -18. “His defense will be missed, sure. But it’s not like he was going to light up the scoreboard.”

That would probably explain why the total moved up to 147.5. The two-point swing on the spread seems to have more to do with a betting market that isn’t too high on the Big East’s best entering the Big Dance.

(12) Long Beach State vs. (5) New Mexico: Open 133.5, now 137.5

A four-point jump on this total caught our eyes right away. The outcome of this O/U will largely depend on Long Beach State leading scorer Casper Ware. If the undersized guard is feeling it from outside, over bettors should see a nice payday – even those who bought at 137.5.

“I think New Mexico is a live team,” Avello said. “They’re coming off a high from winning the Mountain West tournament, and they just seem to be firing on all pistons. We know this is going to be a running game, that’s for sure.”

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:22 AM

My Day Game Best Bets:

03/15/2012 @ 12:10 PM


[711] NC ASHEVILLE +15½ 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 12:10 PM


[711] TOTAL o148 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 09:40 AM


[713] TOTAL o134 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 03:50 PM


[719] TOTAL o136½ 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 11:45 AM


[723] BYU +5 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 11:45 AM


[723] TOTAL o153½ 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 09:15 AM


[726] TOTAL u138 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 01:40 PM


[731] TOTAL o123½ 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 11:10 AM


[733] TOTAL o117 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 11:10 AM


[734] WISCONSIN -9 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 01:10 PM


[739] TOTAL o137½ 1.91

03/15/2012 @ 10:40 AM


[742] TOTAL u139½ 1.91

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:54 AM

Preview: Wizards (9-32) at Hornets (10-33)

Date: March 15, 2012 8:00 PM EDT

Despite both teams' overall play this season, the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Hornets probably feel good about facing each other with the hopes of ending their respective current rough stretches.

The Wizards look to avoid a seventh consecutive road defeat and hand the Hornets a fourth straight home loss Thursday night in a matchup of two of the NBA's worst teams.

While only Charlotte has fewer victories than Washington (9-32) in the Eastern Conference, New Orleans (10-33) owns the worst record in the West. The teams are a combined 4-10 in March and between them have dropped five in a row overall.

New Orleans has won two in a row and five of six against Washington, including three straight at home. The Hornets, however, are 4-18 on their home floor where they have dropped three in a row. They blew a 17-point lead in a 107-101 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Jarrett Jack scored 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting and Chris Kaman added 21 with 12 rebounds but the Hornets still found a way to lose despite shooting 51.8 percent and forcing 19 turnovers.

"The losses just drive you nuts," coach Monty Williams' told the Hornets' official website. "I was listening to somebody talking about winning. It's good, but it's not as bad as losing. The losing just makes you over-analyze at times or makes you really emotional. Where winning, it's almost the same every time."

Jack and Kaman have been the only real bright spots for New Orleans in 2011-12. The only Hornet to score 30 points this season, Jack is averaging a career-high 15.3 points. Kaman, meanwhile, has averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in the last 16 contests.

Kaman is averaging 20.8 points in his last five games versus Washington.

While the Hornets believe they have a good chance to bounce back Thursday, the Wizards might feel confident they can snap their six-game road skid against a team struggling at home.

Trevor Booker had 20 points with 12 rebounds and John Wall added 18 with 10 assists as the Wizards remained competitive but allowed Dallas to shoot 50.6 percent in a 107-98 road loss Tuesday.

"We competed,' Wall said. "We just gave up too many easy baskets. We've got to figure out how to close.'

Already one of the NBA's worst defensive teams giving up 102.3 points per contest, Washington has allowed an average of 110.0 on 50.0 percent shooting while losing four of five overall.

Despite another poor defensive effort leading to a third consecutive defeat overall, Wizards coach Randy Wittman has plenty of faith in his club.

"We've just got to keep fighting like that, and keep improving," Wittman told the Wizards' official website. "Making steps in the improvement defensively we need to make."

Wall is averaging a team-leading 17.3 points in his second NBA season, but he was held to a combined 16 on 6-of-20 shooting in Washington's two losses to New Orleans in 2010-11.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:56 AM

Preview: Bobcats (6-35) at Mavericks (24-20)

Date: March 15, 2012 8:30 PM EDT

A couple of days without a game helped the Dallas Mavericks end their latest skid. A visit from another of the NBA's weaker teams could help the defending champions begin a run in the positive direction.

Trying to win two in a row for the first time in almost a month, the Mavericks look to remain perfect in their all-time series with the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday night.

Dallas (24-20) snapped a three-game slide with a 107-98 victory over lowly Washington on Tuesday. Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and Jason Terry added 24 as the Mavericks shot 50.6 percent and looked refreshed following two days off after losing seven of nine during a 12-day stretch.

The Mavericks last won consecutive contests Feb. 15-17 to conclude a season-high six-game winning streak.

"Losing is no fun. Everybody's on edge, frustration comes out," Nowitzki said. "But we're a veteran team. All we can do is stick together."

The NBA's oldest team with all its starters and two main reserves having played at least 10 years, Dallas got a little healthier with the returns of Brendan Haywood and Brandan Wright on Tuesday. Even better news for the Mavericks is that they will not have to play back-to-back games until March 23-24.

"Nine games in 12 nights, this team was not designed for that," owner Mark Cuban said. "Especially, when you have injuries.

"Now's our chance to prove ourselves. It's just been a different year, and we've got the fewest games left. Now hopefully that will play in our favor. Hopefully we'll run into some tired teams like they've run into us."

Even if they were fatigued in the past, the Mavericks have had little trouble while going 14-0 against Charlotte since the Bobcats debuted in the 2004-05 season. Dallas has averaged 100.4 points while winning all seven matchups at home.

Nowitzki has averaged 26.1 points on 48.5 percent shooting in his career against the Bobcats (6-35). Terry has gone 25 of 46 from the field while averaging 21.0 points in his last three games versus Charlotte.

The Bobcats fell to 1-2 on a four-game trip with a 107-87 loss to Houston on Wednesday. Light-scoring reserve Derrick Brown had a team-high 15 points as the Bobcats shot 40.7 percent.

Two nights after holding New Orleans to 38.5 percent shooting during a 73-71 win, Charlotte allowed the Rockets to make 53.6 percent of their shots.

"I just don't want us to give up," coach Paul Silas said. "We really have to work hard and keep playing. I didn't think we played that hard. We just didn't have it. We just didn't play tough enough."

Leading scorer Corey Maggette (15.3 points per game), limited to nine minutes Monday because of back spasms, was held to 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting against the Rockets. He has gone 3 of 12 from the field and totaled 11 points in his last two games versus Dallas.

The Mavericks have averaged 101.1 points during a three-game home winning streak.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 11:58 AM

Preview: Thunder (32-10) at Nuggets (24-19)

Date: March 15, 2012 9:00 PM EDT

The Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder's latest defeat could be their most discouraging of the season.

Their victory over the Denver Nuggets last month was perhaps their most satisfying.

The Thunder hope to put a disappointing loss that capped a frustrating homestand behind them Thursday night when they visit the Nuggets in a matchup of Northwest Division rivals.

Oklahoma City (32-10) and Denver are the top two teams in the Northwest, but the Thunder are running away with the division - they lead the Nuggets (24-19) by 8 1/2 games.

Protecting home court has been one of the biggest reasons Oklahoma City has pulled away as it owns an 18-3 record at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Two of those losses, however, came in the Thunder's last three games.

After suffering an embarrassing loss to Cleveland on Friday, they appeared ready to finish their five-game homestand Tuesday with a fourth victory as they led Houston 102-91 with 2:29 remaining. The Rockets, however, closed the game on a 13-1 run to send Oklahoma City to a stunning 104-103 loss.

"I think we had this one in our hands throughout the fourth,' All-Star Russell Westbrook said. "We just let it go at the end.'

Westbrook finished with 19 points but had two turnovers, a missed jumper and a technical foul in the final stretch. Kevin Durant had a team-high 28 points but missed a turnaround jumper from the top of the key in the closing seconds.

"It was working for us, we were passing the ball to each other and finishing plays," Durant said. "We have to continue to just keep playing together and we'll be OK."

Durant and company showed just how impressive they can be in a 124-118 overtime victory over the Nuggets on Feb. 19.

Durant had a career-best 51 points, Westbrook scored 40 and Serge Ibaka added 14 points, 15 rebounds and a career-best 11 blocks for his first triple-double. It was the first time in NBA history three teammates put together a 50-point night, a 40-point complementary effort and a triple-double.

If there was one positive the Nuggets took from that loss is they pushed the Thunder to overtime despite playing without Danilo Gallinari and Nene Hilario.

Those two should both be on the court for the rematch and could be big factors considering how well each played in Denver's 118-117 overtime victory over Atlanta on Tuesday.

Gallinari had 19 points, including a key 3-pointer as he fell out of bounds with 3.9 seconds left in regulation, while Nene scored 22 and had the game's final points on two free throws with 27 seconds remaining. Both were appearing in their fifth game after missing extended time because of injuries.

Tuesday's performance was especially encouraging for Gallinari, who missed 13 games with a chip fracture in his left foot. He made 6 of 13 shots after totaling 18 points on 5-of-25 shooting in his previous four contests.

"You sit out more than a month you're legs are not the same,' he said. "It's going to take a while but I'm feeling better.'

Denver, 6-2 since the All-Star break, is first in the league in scoring at 104.1 points, just ahead of Oklahoma City at 102.5 per game.

Durant is averaging 27.9 points, and in 12 games against Denver since 2008-09, he is averaging 32.2 points - his third-highest average against any team.

The Thunder have won three straight over the Nuggets after losing 12 of the previous 15 in the series. Oklahoma City's 101-94 victory in Denver on April 5 snapped a seven-game losing streak there.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 12:00 PM

Preview: Timberwolves (22-21) at Jazz (20-22)

Date: March 15, 2012 9:00 PM EDT

Kevin Love has been on a torrid run in March and the Minnesota Timberwolves will need of more of that from him as they press on without Ricky Rubio.

Love and the Timberwolves continue a seven-game road trip Thursday night against the Utah Jazz.

With Rubio out for the season with a torn ACL, Minnesota's chances of making the playoffs rest primarily on keeping Love healthy and productive.

While Love missed last Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers with back problems, he continued his hot stretch during the next two games. Love scored 31 points in Sunday's loss to New Orleans - the team's first without Rubio - and had 30 in a 127-124 win over Phoenix on Monday.


The Suns were ahead by five with 6:10 remaining, but Love scored 13 points in the fourth quarter while going 3 of 5 from 3-point range to help Minnesota (22-21) win the opener of its longest road trip of the season.

"The biggest thing for me is I didn't get a good warm up," said Love, who set a franchise mark with his 15th 30-point game of the season. "I had good looks in the first half but the ball never really felt right in my hand. I decided to get my legs under me in the second half and that was the biggest difference."

Love is leading the NBA with 32.3 points in six games this month - up from his season average of 25.7 points.

However, Love has been held below his scoring and rebounding averages in both meetings with Utah this season. He had 15 points and eight boards in a 108-98 loss in Salt Lake City on Jan. 21 and scored a season low-tying 10 with 10 rebounds in a 100-98 win at home Feb. 22.

Despite Rubio's absence, Minnesota scored its most points of the season in its last game. That may not be good news for the Jazz (20-22), who are coming off a poor defensive effort in a 120-111 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday.

Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson each scored 18 points, but Utah couldn't slow the Suns, who shot 56.4 percent overall and hit nine 3-pointers.

"We couldn't get over the hump,' coach Tyrone Corbin said. ``We didn't get the break we needed, but we have another one tomorrow.'

The Jazz have lost three of four, but will play their next two at home, where they have won three straight and are 15-6.

While Utah has allowed at least 104 points in its last three road losses, the Jazz are giving up 93.9 points at home this season, including 90.3 in the last three contests there.

Minnesota has struggled to contain Utah's frontcourt. Millsap has averaged 25.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while Jefferson has added 18.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in two meetings this season.

The Jazz have won four straight at home against the Timberwolves.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 12:02 PM

Preview: Suns (20-22) at Clippers (24-17)

Date: March 15, 2012 10:30 PM EDT

The Phoenix Suns' surge has been mostly due to a home-heavy schedule, and it's already victimized the Los Angeles Clippers.

A change in venue has historically not made a difference in this series.

The Suns look to for an improved defensive effort as they try to continue their dominance of the Clippers on Thursday night when these Pacific Division rivals meet for the second time in two weeks.

Phoenix (20-22) has won eight of 11, averaging 103.0 points. That's an increase of almost 10 points per game as the Suns attempt to turn around a season that appeared to be slipping away with a four-game slide prior to this stretch.

Their recent surge, however, has been aided by the schedule. They've played 10 of the last 11 at home, losing the only road contest in that stretch to drop to 7-12 away from home this season.

The Suns wouldn't appear to be too concerned with matching their season-high five-game road losing streak since they face the Clippers (24-17) again. They beat Los Angeles 81-78 on March 2, rallying from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to improve to 12-1 in the past 13 meetings.

Phoenix has won five of six at Staples Center, scoring 116.3 points per game.

Still, coach Alvin Gentry wasn't happy after the Suns needed to erase a 13-point deficit to beat Utah 120-111 on Wednesday, two days after falling 127-124 to Minnesota.

"We had three guys with 20 or more and all the starters in double figures and that's great and fine," Gentry said of Phoenix's scoring distribution. "But we are just going to have to zero in and get a little better defensively. The last two games have been a little alarming."

Improved defensive play could help the Suns withstand this stretch of three games in three days, which started against the Jazz and ends Friday when they host Detroit.

Another strong performance from Jared Dudley would surely help. The swingman had 21 points against the Jazz, and is averaging 19.9 while hitting 54.2 percent of his shots from the floor - 14 for 32 from beyond the arc - over the last seven games. That includes 22 points versus the Clippers earlier this month, more than doubling his career average against them from his previous 11 meetings.

Steve Nash had six points, six assists and seven turnovers in that matchup. He's been much better over the past 11 road meetings with Los Angeles, averaging 17.2 points and 12.8 assists.

Los Angeles is trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 15-16, going 5-8 in 13 games since.

The Clippers, though, are hoping they can build on Wednesday's 96-82 win over Atlanta, as reserves Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe scored 25 and 14 points, respectively.

"It was a must-win," said Williams, who has totaled 46 points in two games. "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for this game because we needed it really bad. So we came out and did what we had to do against a good team."

While Williams is averaging 17.2 points over the past nine games, the Clippers will likely need increased producion from stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Paul had 13 points and nine assists against the Hawks, while Griffin's 12 points were his fewest in 30 games. The duo was also kept in check by the Suns earlier this month, as Paul scored 16 points with five assists while Griffin added 17 points and seven boards.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33072 Followers:38
03/15/2012 12:04 PM

Suns aim for 4th straight series win over Clips



Tip-off: Thursday, 10:35 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -6½, Total: 195

The Suns look to continue their recent dominance of the Clippers when they travel to L.A. on Thursday night.

Phoenix has won three straight, SU and ATS, and 12 of 13 SU (9-4 ATS) over the Clippers, including an 81-78 win in the desert two weeks ago. The Clippers have certainly struggled since the All-Star break, going 4-6 SU (5-5 ATS), but there were plenty of positive signs in Wednesday’s 96-82 home win over the Hawks. They broke out of a collective shooting slump, hitting 10-of-20 threes and making better than 50% of their field goals for only the second time in their past 16 games. Can the Clippers cover this large a spread against a surging Suns squad? For the answer, connect to the NBA Weekday Pass for ATS picks covering all the marquee NBA games each day. NBA Pass was a perfect 3-0 ATS on Wednesday.

The Suns did look good on Wednesday, though they only had to dispose of a Jazz team that always struggles on the road. Nash (13.9 PPG on 54.7% FG, 11.1 APG) handed out 16 assists, and the team stayed red-hot from three, hitting 9-of-19 from behind the arc. Perhaps most importantly, PF Channing Frye (10.3 PPG) has gotten back on track. He scored 26, shooting 10-for-18 from the field (5-for-10 threes) in the Jazz win, and scored 18 on 7-for-11 FG (4-for-6 threes) in Monday’s win over Minnesota. But he has to find the range on the road for once. On the year, Frye has hit 39.4% of his threes at home, but only 31.6% on the road. The FoxSheets show a three-star trend siding with the Suns:

Play Against - Home teams (L.A. CLIPPERS) - revenging a straight up loss vs. opponent as a favorite, extremely tired team - playing 9 or more games in 14 days. (35-10 since 1996.) (77.8%, +24 units. Rating = 3*).

In their last meeting, the Clippers were surprisingly ineffective against the Suns’ typically soft defense. Playing on the road for the second night in a row on March 2, they scored just 78 points and shot 36.8% FG and lost despite Phoenix’s awful shooting (35% FG, 62% FT) and a particularly bad night from Nash, who had just six points, six assists and seven turnovers. PF Blake Griffin (21.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG) had one of his worst games of the season in that game, going for 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting.

The good news is that some of the Clippers’ role players finally delivered in Wednesday’s win. PG Chris Paul (19.9 PPG, 8.3 APG) and Griffin had been forced to carry the team of late. SF Caron Butler (12.6 PPG) came into Wednesday averaging 6.9 PPG on 27.1% FG since the All-Star break, but had 13 on 5-for-9 shooting against the Hawks. Sixth man Mo Williams (14.3 PPG) had hit 2-of-12 threes in home games on Sunday and Monday, but went for 25 points and made 3-for-5 from behind the arc against Atlanta. The FoxSheets show a two-star trend expecting the Clippers to prevail:

Play On - Favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points (L.A. CLIPPERS) - after being beaten by the spread by 18 or more points total in their last three games against opponent after going over the total by 30 or more points total in their last three games. (54-25 over the last 5 seasons.) (68.4%, +26.5 units. Rating = 2*).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: