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Sunday, Bloody NBA Sunday

   by Ben Burns - 02/22/2010

They were spotted everywhere on a manic Monday throughout the sports betting stratosphere.

In the office, they were the guys that were unusually surly and unenergetic.

At the gym, they could be seen pushing themselves through extra sets with profanity-laced rants about Josh Smith.

At the bar, they were the guys drinking well vodka, straight.

These depressed dudes bet on the Hawks and the Blazers Sunday night. They deserve our understanding.

The Hawks were giving around 5 at Golden State in the early game of ESPN’s Sunday night doubleheader. The Warriors were missing Corey Maggette, Vladimir Radmanovic, Ronny Turiaf and Anthony Randolph.

Golden State hung tough in the first half and trailed by only one at halftime. But the Hawks opened things up in the third quarter and took a 17-point lead into the fourth.

Then, Steph Curry took over.

Curry scored 10 of his 32 in the fourth quarter. The former Davidson star hit a couple threes and got to the basket for a layup, proving to any doubters that his game will indeed transfer to the NBA level.

The Hawks had no answer and couldn’t buy a basket. They watched Golden State run off 16 straight points and managed to squander away their mammoth lead in just seven minutes.

But the Hawks weren’t done blowing it quite yet. After Golden State tied it at 97-97 with three minutes to play, Joe Johnson started to take over for the Hawks. He scored seven points in a two-minute stretch and put the Hawks up two with a 3-pointer with 2:21 to play. But Johnson also had his pocket picked by Monte Ellis, leading to a tying layup for the Warriors with just one minute to play.

Things went downhill from there for Hawks backers, who watched Jamal Crawford get a technical foul with 30 seconds left in a tight game.

Trailing by three, the Hawks had another chance to at least force overtime. But needing a three, Josh Smith, not Johnson or Crawford, ended up launching a 28-footer that missed badly

Final score: Golden State 108, Atlanta 104.

That was bad, but the nightcap in Portland was worse.

The Blazers were around 1.5-point favorites over the red-hot Jazz. Covering that little number didn’t look like it would be much of an issue for the Blazers, who built a 25-point lead with seven minutes to go in the third quarter.

That’s when Blazers coach Nate McMillan told reporters that his team began to “play with the game.”

“What I mean by that is if you lose your focus and don't play the game the right way, it will come back on you," said McMillian.

It certainly did.

The Blazers got lackadaisical, started taking bad shots and turning the ball over. Even in the fourth quarter, after Utah had cut the lead in half, the Blazers couldn’t regain their focus. Brandon Roy, a career 79 percent free throw shooter, missed all four of his free throw attempts.

Meanwhile, the Jazz were firing on all cylinders. Deron Williams was shutting down Roy on one end and making play after play on the other.

Up two with 30 seconds to play, Portland had its chance to put the Jazz away, but ended up getting a 3-point shot from Nicolas Batum on the most important possession of the game. (Shouldn’t Roy be taking that shot?)

Batum missed, and Carlos Boozer, who was an absolute beast during the comeback, put back a Williams miss to send the game into overtime.

Roy hit a 3-pointer to open overtime, but two straight baskets gave the Jazz its first lead since 9-8 early in the first quarter.

Utah’s C.J. Miles clinched the remarkable comeback with two free throws with four seconds left that put the Jazz up four.

Final score: Utah 93, Portland 89.

Our condolences go out to anyone who had the Hawks or Jazz. And, if you had both, try to lay off the well vodka.

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