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Inside the Paint - Thursday
Bettors following the Association this week have seen the pendulum swing back and forth at the betting counter. On Monday and Tuesday, favorites went 12-1 straight up and 10-3 against the spread. However, the ‘chalk’ train came to a halt on Wednesday as underdogs produced an 8-4 record against the spread and that included six outright victories.

In those upsets, none of the spreads were very high but we did have some struggling teams get over the hump. Utah knocked off New Orleans 111-105 last night for its first win of the season and Sacramento snapped a five-game losing skid as it defeated Brooklyn, 107-86.

The loss for the Nets dropped their road record to 0-4 on the season. Brooklyn has been favored in all four games and will finish its road trip this weekend with games against the Suns on Friday and Clippers on Saturday.
While the Nets haven’t been a sound investment this season, they still aren’t the worst bet. After 2 ½ weeks, Cleveland (1-8 ATS) has been a great team to fade, especially on the road (0-6 SU, 0-6 ATS).

Thursday’s slate will be highlighted with another double-header on TNT.

Houston (5-4 SU, 3-5-1 ATS) at New York (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS)

This series has been owned by Houston, who is 9-1 both SU and ATS in its last 10 encounters against New York. During this span, the Rockets have won and covered four straight at Madison Square Garden. Last season’s matchup in New York featured the return of “Linsanity” as former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin made his debut as a Rocket at MSG. In that game, Lin dominated the Knicks with 22 points and nine assists as Houston cruised to a 109-96 win.

Fast forward to tonight and bettors might want to look at the fatigue factor since both clubs played on Wednesday. Houston was involved in an overtime battle at Philadelphia and unfortunately for the Rockets, they came up short in the extra session and lost outright as 6 ½-point road favorites to the 76ers, 123-117.

It was the second straight overtime game for Houston, who defeated Toronto 110-104 at home on Monday. The Rockets failed to cover as seven-point favorites and are now 0-4 ATS in their last four games. The issue lately for the Rockets has been their defense, which has allowed 111.8 points per game in the last six contests.

All-Star shooting guard James Harden (foot) sat out last night’s game in Philadelphia and is expected to be a game-time decision tonight.

New York was involved in a dogfight as well on Wednesday but it managed to hold off Atlanta 95-91 as a four-point road underdog. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and Andrea Bargnani finally shot well from the outside as he added 20 points.

Rest hasn’t been an issue for Houston this season. The Rockets have gone 2-0 both SU and ATS in back-to-back spots, winning both games by double digits and on the road too. The Knicks have only faced one back-to-back spot and they lost at Chicago 82-81 but covered as eight-point road ‘dogs.

Since beating Milwaukee 90-83 in the home opener on Oct. 30, New York has dropped three straight at MSG. During this home losing skid, the Knicks have allowed 109, 102 and 120 points. Two of those losses came to quality Western Conference clubs in Minnesota (109-100) and San Antonio (120-89) and most pundits would put Houston on par with those teams.

The Rockets opened as 1 ½-point road favorites with a total of 204 ½.
Oklahoma City (5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS) at Golden State (5-3 SU, 5-2-1 ATS)

Oddsmakers opened the Warriors as three-point home favorites and the numbers was quickly pushed up to 4 ½ at most betting shops. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number climb by tip-off. 

Oklahoma City won’t have center Kendrick Perkins (personal) in the lineup and they could be without power forward Serge Ibaka because of a possible suspension. In last night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Ibaka and the Clippers' Matt Barnes being ejected in the second quarter for a scrum. Not having Ibaka proved to be the difference for Oklahoma City, who led 62-53 at halftime. In the final two quarters, the Clippers outscored the Thunder 58-41 en route to a 111-103 victory.

Tonight’s matchup for OKC will be the middle game of a three-game road trip and the second game in two night. Following this tip, the team will travel to Milwaukee on Saturday before a six-game homestand. This will be the first back-to-back situation for Oklahoma City this season and it won’t be easy.

Golden State has gone 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS at Oracle Arena this season, which includes a 113-95 win over Detroit on Tuesday as a nine-point favorite. The victory came after the Warriors finished up a four-game road trip, which saw them go 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS.

Despite the possibility of playing shorthanded and in a tough environment, the Thunder should be confident based on recent history. Oklahoma City took three of four meetings against Golden State last season, the lone loss coming in the Bay Area. The ‘over’ went 3-1 in those encounters as the Thunder posted 119, 119 and 116 in the victories but just 99 in the loss.

This season, OKC has gone 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS on the road this season.

After this contest, Golden State will play a home-and home with Utah this weekend.

Chris David can be reached at

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