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by Ben Burns - 03/01/2010
Sometimes, I can’t find crap for this column. I’ll scour the box scores, watch all the highlights and troll the Covers forums looking for bettors bitching about getting moosed. Sometimes, I’ll come up with nothing to write about, as I’m sure my regular readers—Hi, Mom & editor—will attest.
But that’s not the case this week.
This weekend is why we must remember to protect the bankroll at all costs. Bad beats were everywhere. It started in the NBA on Friday night, when a league-record four games went into overtime. It carried over to Saturday’s college card, where game-winning 3-pointers were banking in at Stanford and covers were blown on a seemingly game-by-game basis.
Coincidently, two of the worst beats happened in Atlanta, where the Hawks and Georgia Tech took turns shafting their backers from behind.
On Friday, just four days after blowing an 18-point lead in Golden State, the Hawks were at it again.
Favored by three over the red-hot Mavericks, the Hawks looked like they were out to prove a point to the Western Conference. They assumed control of the game in the third quarter and took an 11-point lead into the fourth. The Hawks extended their lead to 15 with eight minutes to play and looked poised to cruise to an impressive victory.
Instead, coach Mike Woodson and his team had an impressive meltdown.
As normal in the NBA, the Mavs battled back and took the lead on consecutive 3-pointers by a red-hot Jason Kidd. But the Hawks answered with two 3’s from Mike Bibby and were still in position to salvage a cover, up 2 with 1:30 to play.
Then, something happened that this 20-year NBA fan has never seen. Trailing 97-95, Kidds brought the ball across the time line, when he noticed Woodson was a few steps on the court, yelling instructions to his team. Kidd promptly speeds up and bumps into Woodson, drawing a technical foul on the coach. Kidd even gave the Hawks coach a little extra elbow.
Dirk Nowitzki made the technical free throw, and the Mavericks went on to win 111-103 in overtime.
"I said [to Woodson], 'You can't be on the floor. You don't have a uniform on," Kidd explained to reporters after the game. "It was just a play. We move on."
"The officials got it right. I thought from there, mentally, we took control of the game. That play just presented itself. It's just a reaction and just understanding what the team needs. Rules are rules. The coach isn't supposed to be on the floor."
Woodson, who jawed a little with Kidd after the play, admitted after the game that it was a heady play by the veteran All-Star point guard.
“He did what he had to do,” Woodson told the press. “Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to favor the team. I've got to take the hit for that."
Actually, Coach, it was the bankrolls of Hawks’ backers that took the biggest hit. Thanks.
About 14 hours later, just down the street from the Hawks’ home court, Georgia Tech was handing out a similar, but more traditional, backdoor shaft to its backers.
The Yellow Jackets were 7.5-point favorites over Boston College. Tech head coach Paul Hewitt had defended his team to the media via Twitter and his radio show earlier in the week. The Yellow Jackets looked like knowing coach had their back had inspired them. They controlled the first half and took a seven-point lead into the locker room.
The Jackets extended their lead to 15 early in the half and maintained a double-digit lead for 18 minutes of the second half. They were up 12 with 22 seconds to play.
But B.C’s Joe Trapani hit what was estimated as a 35-foot 3-pointer to make it 73-64 with 14 seconds left.
Still, Georgia Tech just needed to inbounds the ball and let the clock run out. Boston College looked like they were trying to foul, but the refs didn’t blow the whistle. Freshman Derrick Favors panicked and turned the ball over underneath his own basket. B.C.’s Corey Raji made a layup with four seconds left.
Not that it mattered, but the Yellow Jackets turned it over again on the following inbounds pass, leading to another Boston College layup.
Final score: Georgia Tech 73, Boston College 68.