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Wednesday, April 5

   by Larry Ness - 04/05/2006

The Twins and Blue Jays were the last teams to open the 2006 MLB season last night in Toronto. The game featured a matchup of recent Cy Young winners, as Santana ('04) took on Halladay ('03).

Halladay won the 'battle', going 7 2/3 innings while allowing five hits and three runs (two earned) while Santana allowed 10 hits and four runs in just 5 2/3 innings. The Blue Jays also won the 'war', beating the Twins 6-3 behind Bengie Molina's three-run HR and the teams' 14 hits.

My free play for Wednesday is on the Ind Pacers over the Tor Raptors at 7:05 ET. While I hate to pass on the NBA board today, especially off a 3-0 NBA sweep yesterday, I am. However, I do have my Getaway Day Game of the Week in MLB plus another 15* "Best of the Best" Play (opened 2-0 with 15-stars)!

The nine runs scored in the game brought MLB's opening day total to 165 runs scored in the 15 games, an average of exactly 11 runs per contest. Eight of the games went 'over', five went 'under' and two ended in a 'push'. While home teams were just 8-7, favorites were an incredible 13-0, as I'm counting the Arizona/Colorado and Boston/Texas games on Monday as 'pick-ems'!

All 30 teams are in action on Wednesday with the Cubs and Reds playing on ESPN at 12:35 ET. The Indians and White Sox play the rubber game of their three-game series in Chicago at 2:05 ET on WGN. Other games on TV today include the Cards at the Phils on ESPN2 (7:05 ET) and the Braves at the Dodgers on WTBS (10:10 ET).

The number 13 was almost very unlucky for the Nets last night, who saw the Hawks make a 24-2 run in the 4th quarter, before New Jersey held on to win its 13th consecutive game, 96-94. The 13-game winning streak ties Dallas for the longest winning streak this year and the Nets will host the 21-54 Charlotte Bobcats with a chance to make it 14 straight wins, on Thursday (Bobcats are 6-31 on the road!).

The league's second-longest active winning streak belongs to the Cavs (nine straight), who beat the 76ers last night, 124-91. It marked Cleveland's highest-scoring game of the year and its largest margin of victory. The good news was the return of Larry Hughes, who played for the first time since December 31 (20 minutes / 10 points). The bad news was Ilgauskas leaving the game in the first quarter with an ankle sprain and not returning. We'll see?

The Pistons were not able to start their regular lineup last night because of Rasheed Wallace's suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul on Sunday against the Suns. It ended Detroit's record of having started the same five players in each of the team's first 73 games this year (98 straight including last year's postseason). Anyway, the Pistons beat the Hornets 101-93 and remain two games ahead of the Spurs for the league's best record at 60-14.

Speaking of the Spurs (58-16), their 95-86 win at Utah kept them 2 1/2 games ahead of the Mavs (56-19) in the Southwest. The Mavs crushed the Kings in Dallas last night, 127-101. It marked a season-high in points for Dallas and the team's 61.3 percent from the floor was also a season-best. Pretty good numbers considering the Kings had allowed 98 points or less in their previous 13 games!

The Knicks lost their ninth straight game (second-longest active streak) and their 33rd in their last 39 games, losing in Washington 105-90. The Timberwolves lost in Charlotte 97-92 to the Bobcats and have now lost 12 straight road games. Since winning at Portland on December 7, Minnesota has lost 25 of its last 28 away from the Target Center. Golden State, Indiana and Toronto all lost for the fifth straight time last night. However, only the Pacers are in playoff contention.

Indiana blew a 17-point 4th quarter lead in Chicago and have now lost eight of their last 10 games. The bottom of the Eastern Conference standings show the Bucks (6) at 37-37, the Pacers (7) at 35-38, the 76ers (8) at 34-39 and the Bulls (9) now just a half-game back of Philly at 34-40. In the West, the Clippers (5) lead the Grizzlies (6) by one game and the Lakers (7) lead the Kings (8) by two games. The Hornets trail the Kings by two and the Jazz are 2 1/2 games back.

Wednesday night's NBA schedule has 10 games with ESPN televising a doubleheader. The Kings take on the Spurs in San Antonio at 8:05 ET and the Clippers are in Phoenix to take on the Suns at 10:35 ET. The Spurs are favored by 7 1/2 points with a total of 187, while the Suns are favored by eight points with a total of 221.

In a game of importance to the playoff picture in the East, the Bulls are in Philadelphia at 7:05 ET and can move past the 76ers into the East's final playoff spot with a win. The Bulls have won five of six, while the 76ers have lost 11 of their last 15. Philly is favored by 3 1/2 points (203). Other games to take note of in the East are Washington at Boston (7:05 ET), Toronto at Indiana (7:05 ET) and Milwaukee at Orlando (7:05 ET).

The T-wolves just may be able to break their 12-game road losing streak tonight, as they take on the Hawks in Atlanta (7:05 ET). The Hawks enter the game having lost 12 of their last 14, overall. Atlanta is favored by two points with a total of 194.

The league's longest active losing streak belongs to the Trailblazers (11 straight), who host the Rockets tonight at 10:05 ET. Portland won at Denver on February 4 105-104 but has since gone 3-25! However, the Rockets enter having lost nine of 12 and are just 5-22 this year without T-Mac. The bad news for Portland is that the Rockets own nine straight wins over the Blazers, including two wins this year. Houston is favored by four points (182).

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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