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Saturday, Jan 28

   by Larry Ness - 01/28/2006

I don't know if any of you are as old as me (or FEEL as old) but about FOUR decades ago, Joe Garagiola (I guess if remember him you're as old!) wrote a book titled, "Baseball is a Funny Game." Well, the NBA can be pretty 'funny' too. Consider this. The Nuggets entered last night's home game with the Clippers on a seven-game winning streak and had gone 11-2 in January. Marcus Camby, the league's top rebounder had missed the team's last 15 games (Nuggets were 11-4 without him) but was set to return for last night's game.

So what happens? The Nuggets get OUTREBOUNDED 45-32 and lose, 105-87! Kobe should have been well-rested after his 81-point game on Sunday, as the Lakers had a four-day layoff before last night's game with Golden State. However, the man who "never saw a shot he didn't like or think he couldn't make", took just 12 shots through the game's first three quarters last night! He made just TWO and entered the final quarter with a total of just FIVE points! Luckily for the Lakers (but NOT for LA bettors), someone must have reminded Kobe who he was, as he scored 25 points in the 4th quarter and overtime, as the Lakers escaped with a non-covering 106-105 win.

My free play for Saturday is in college hoops. Take Va Tech over Wake Forest at 3:00 ET. I have three HUGE CBB plays on Saturday, my first LEGEND Play in BKB since January 7 (LEGEND Plays went 14-4 in the FB season and are 3-1 so far in the BKB season!) plus two 20* plays. Since Jan 20, my 20* plays or higher in CBB have gone 5-1 or 83% ATS, so don't miss my 20* Big-10 GOY or my 20* Big-12 Total of the Year. NBA fans check back at 9:00 ET.

The Artest/Peja deal caused two big line 'moves' on Friday night. The Cavs were in Indiana last night to take on the Pacers. With Artest gone for Peja (who wouldn't play) and O'Neal out for up to eight weeks, the overnight line of Cleveland as a one-point favorite didn't last long. The Cavs closed a four-point favorite and there were more than a few 4 1/2s around. Final score? Cleveland by FOUR!

Artest made his debut for the Kings last night in Boston against the Celtics. The Celtics also had big trade news, as a seven-player trade with Minnesota had sent Davis and Blount to the T-wolves for Szczerbiak and Olowokandi. Boston opened as a four-point choice in this one but the game 'closed' at about 'pick', with the Kings even moving to a favorite in some spots. Final score? Boston wins 84-74. Artest scored 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

Seemingly, the Pistons are ONE team you can count on these days, although Detroit bettors lost yesterday when the Pistons moved to 36-5 with a 95-89 win over the Grizzlies. Detroit became just the THIRD team in the last 20 years to start the same five players in EACH of its first 41 games. The 1999-2000 Pacers did it and so did the 2002-03 Golden State Warriors.

An interesting contrast of those two teams shows this. The Pacers went 56-26 in the regular season that year, making it all the way to the NBA finals where they lost to the Lakers (first title for Shaq and Kobe). As for the Warriors, they finished 38-44 in '03, once again missing the postseason (last made the playoffs in 1993-94 season).

College basketball dominates the Saturday sports landscape. ESPN and ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise NINE games on Saturday, beginning with Cincinnati at Georgetown (ESPN2) and Kansas at Iowa State (ESPN) at noon ET. Saturday's coverage ends with Texas at Oklahoma on ESPN2 at 9:00 ET. CBS gets in on the action with Arizona visiting North Carolina at 1:00 ET (Tar Heels are favored by 3 1/2 points with a total of 150).

Last Saturday's action saw Duke, Florida and Pittsburgh all lose, leaving us with no remaining unbeaten teams. Long winning streaks still in tact, are of the 'home' variety. Southern Illinois owns the nation's longest current home winning streak (33 straight) but the Salukis play at Illinois State on Saturday. However, both Gonzaga and Illinois (each with 32 straight home wins) play home games on Saturday, Gonzaga (a 19 1/2-point favorite) hosting 8-12 Portland and Illinois (a 22-point favorite) hosting 7-11 Purdue.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET and on Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 ET.

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