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Behind the lines

Billups' injury seems to be no spread factor

May 10, 2008|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

In the NBA playoffs, point spreads normally change whenever a key starter is injured.

However, that's not really the case for the Detroit Pistons, who may be forced to play against Orlando in Game 4 today without banged-up veteran point guard Chauncey Billups.

After taking a commanding 2-0 lead over the Magic with Billups in the lineup, the Pistons suffered a 25-point loss in Game 3 when Billups went down with a hamstring injury early in the game and did not return.

But Orlando -- playing at home -- was favored by five points in Game 3, which is the same point spread Las Vegas oddsmakers have given the Magic for today's Game 4, whether Billups plays or not.

The strong play of Rodney Stuckey, a rookie from Eastern Washington, is one reason for the point-line stability. Stuckey, who missed the first 25 games of the season because of a broken hand, has provided a scoring spark for the Pistons in the postseason, including 19 points in Game 3.

In recent weeks, Orlando has excelled when it has played as the team to beat, going 6-1 against the point spread in its last seven games as a favorite.

Note: The Pistons are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as an underdog of 5-10 points.

NASCAR

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads into tonight's Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway with Kyle Busch holding an 18-point lead over No. 2 driver Jeff Burton. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in third place, 104 points behind.

Carl Edwards is favored to win today's race at 9-2, followed by Busch at 5-1, with Denny Hamlin and Earnhardt at 6-1.

Baseball

Once the San Francisco Giants decided not to bring back Barry Bonds, baseball bettors figured that they would go through some growing pains this season. And that has been the case for the Giants, who will be home underdogs against the Philadelphia Phillies today.

Heading into Friday night's play, San Francisco had lost five of six games and eight of 11. According to bodoglife.com, the Giants are now listed at 50-1 odds to win the National League West title.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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