Bulls at the Brink, Kings Sweep, Pujols Homers + Weekend Recap and Free Plays for Monday, May 7, 2012

Knicks snap skid …. 76ers, Celtics and Lakers go up 3-1

Carmelo Anthony had 41 points and a heavily wrapped Amare Stoudamire added 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Knicks snapped their NBA record 13-game playoff losing streak with an 89-87 win over the Miami Heat and force a Game V in that first round series. The Knicks missed four foul shots in the final 25 seconds keeping the Heat in the game. Dwayne Wade’s off-balance winner at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

The 76ers won their third straight game with the Bulls 89-82 sending top-seeded Chicago to the brink of elimination. Big man Spencer Hawes continued his strong play with 22 points and eight boards. Jrue Holiday overcame first-half shooting woes to nail a couple of key threes late. In all three PHiladelphia wins, the 76ers have significantly outplayed the Bulls in the fourth quarter. Carlos Boozer had 23/11 for the losers.

The Celtics jumped out to a 64-41 halftime lead over the Hawks then cruised to a 101-79 win. The Celtics shot 51% for the game including 11-26 from downtown. Paul Pierce had 24 and Rajon Rondo 20 points and 16 helpers. Josh Smith returned to the Atlanta lineup and had 15/13/5 for the lifeless Hawks. Boston leads the series 3-1 and can seal the deal with a win Tuesday night at the Phillips Center.

Steve Blake hit a dagger three with 19 seconds left as the Lakers got passed Denver 92-88 to take a 3-1 lead in that series. Kobe Bryant led six Lakers in double-figures with 22, Danilo Galinari led the Nuggets with 20 in defeat. The Lakers won by dominating the offensive glass ripping down 19 offensive rebounds. LA can also close out the series on Tuesday with a win at The Staples Center.

In tonight’s playoff action, the Spurs are eight point favorites to close at the Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. The total is a rock solid 199. San Antonio was a double-digit winner in the first three games, all three going under the total. The Clippers are -1.5 at home over Memphis, the total 182 1/2. Both teams are 42-27 on the year and the first three games of the series were decided by 1-7-1 points. The Clipper have won six of the L7 in the series at home.

Kings sweep, Devils dump Flyers

The Kings got two goals from Dustin Brown and 22 saves from Jonathon Quick to finish out the Blues in four straight. LA is now the first eight-seed to eliminate the #1 and #2 seed in conference playoff action. LA is now 8-1 in the playoffs with a 28-15 aggregate and waits to take on the Phoenix/Nashville winner in the Western Conference Final.

Certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur celebrated his 40th birthday with a 4-2 win over the Flyers. Brodeur became the first NHL goalie to win a playoff game in his teens and in his 40s. Dainius Zubrus lit the lamp twice for New Jersey who now have a 3-1 lead in the series. The Flyers will likely be without top player Claude Giroux for Game IV. Giroux was penalized for a vicious cross-check that will likely get attention from the league office.

Tonight, the Rangers are -150 at Madison Square Garden over the Caps. The total is five flat with the under -150. Fourteen of the L19 playoff games in this series have gone to overtime. The series is deadlocked at 2-2. The Phoenix Coyotes can punch their ticket to the Western Conference finals with a home win over Nashville. The Yotes are minus 15 cents and the total five flat with the under -140. Nashville hasn’t scored in five periods. Phoenix scored nine goals in games Games I and II despite going 0-9 on the power play.

Phils hammer Nats late on ESPN, Pujols breaks through

The Phillies got eight innings of five-hit one-run pitching from Cole Hamels then tacked on a six-spot in the ninth to snap a seven-game losing streak against Washington 9-3. Hunter Pence hit a pair of two-run homers for Philadelphia. 19YO Bryce Harper went 2-3 and stole home in the first inning.

Albert Pujols snapped the longest home run drought of his career with a two-run shot in the fifth to lea Anaheim to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Dating back to last year, Pujols had gone 33 games and 139 at bats without a dinger, 28 games and 111 at bats with his new team, the Angels. Pujols crossed the plate and was greated by an empty dugout, a joke st up by Torii Hunter.

Kesloski takes checkered at Talladega

Brad Kesloski got a push from Kyle Busch and take control on the final lap to become the first Dodge since 1976 to win at Talladega. Busch couldn’t gain any ground on the last lap and finished second. Matt Kenseth led with two laps to go but strayed to far from his help and finished third. Kahne, Biffle, Bowyer, Ragan, Bayne, Junior, and Jeff Burton rounded out the Top Ten.

The crazy ending to the Aarons 499 at Talladega

Fowler wins playoff for first PGA title

After 71 events and three years for frustration, the “wonderboy” of golf has finally broken through. Ricky Fowler dropped a 133-yard pitch shot to withing four feet and then canned the birdie putt to beat Rory McIlroy and DA Points on the first playoff hole at the Wells Fargo Open at Quail Hollow. It was the highly touted ex-Oklahoma State Cowboy’s first win on the PGA tour. Fowler pocketed $1,170,000 for the win.

Sportsbetting3 Sportspurri

Saturday, the US beat Canada 5-4 in group play at the World Championships in Finland. It was the United States first win over Canada in the Worlds since 2001. The US has 17 new players on its’ roster and seven players are wearing the U.S. jersey for the first time.

Saturday’s Kentucky Derby established a new record and was a significant increase over betting on the race last year, according to figures released by Churchill Downs late Saturday. The preliminary handle figure for the Derby, as reported by Churchill, was $133.1 million, an 18.8 percent increase over last year’s handle and a 12.4 percent increase over the previous high mark. This year’s Derby had 20 horses, compared to 19 last year, but more significantly, this year’s field did not include a standout that focused bettors’ attention on one or two horses. The all-sources handle for the entire 13-race card also established a record at $187 million, up 13.2 percent from last year’s total of $165.2 million. The all-sources handle figure dwarfs any other single-day wagering number for a racing card, including the Saturday Breeders’ Cup card at Churchill last November, in which handle was $97.6 million.

Free Plays

(NBA) San Antonio -8 over Utah

(NHL) Phoenix -115 over Nashville

(MLB) St Louis (Lynn) -122 over Arizona (Saunders)

(MLB) Detroit (Fister) -140 over Seattle (Beavan)