Meaningless basket? Hardly

Times Staff Writer

By the time the Lakers tipped off against San Antonio on Thursday night for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, they were listed as 7 1/2 -point favorites.

It turned out to be a sizable point spread that attracted plenty of support for the Spurs, who needed a victory to stay alive in the best-of-seven series.

Behind Kobe Bryant, the Lakers rallied from a 17-point deficit to win, 100-92, but the game’s final minute -- ending with a Sasha Vujacic three-pointer at the buzzer -- stressed out gamblers.

From “Behind the Lines” reader Marc Popkin: “How would you like to have had the Spurs and 7 1/2 points? [Tony] Parker hits a three-pointer to cut [the Lakers’ lead to five points] with 10 seconds left and the Spurs choose not to foul.


“Players are shaking hands and Sasha decides to shoot a three at the buzzer to cover the spread. Gambling is brutal!”

Surprisingly, this type of sports betting swing happens often with Las Vegas oddsmakers, who do a remarkable job of predicting spreads on a daily basis.

To R.J. Bell of, this type of unpredictability connected with betting on sports is what drives the business.

“Surprisingly, considering the series dynamic and the Lakers’ marquee status, approximately two out of three bets were on the Spurs Thursday,” Bell said, “making Sasha’s last second three-pointer that allowed L.A. to cover a big-dollar positive swing for Vegas.”

Mixed martial arts

Mixed martial arts will make its prime-time network television debut tonight with Kevin Ferguson -- better known as Kimbo Slice -- as the main attraction against James Thompson in a three-round Elite XC fight.

Slice is a heavy favorite to win. At, Slice is listed at -600 over Thompson, who is an underdog at +400. Slice has a 3-0 record and a limited professional MMA background. Thompson is 14-8. has several proposition bets available regarding Slice: Will the bout go past 1:30 of Round 1? Yes (+135) or No (-175); Will the bout go past 2:30 of Round 1? Yes (+175) or No (-215); Will there be a Round 2? Yes (+325) or No (-650); Will Kimbo Slice win by KO, TKO, or disqualification? Yes (-450) or No (+300).


his story is not intended as a tip sheet but is an account of significant betting taking place in the sports world.