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Ball answers critics in Vegas Summer League

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

Lonzo Ball electrified the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday night with 36 points and 11 assists in a 103-102 come-from-behind victory for the Lakers over the Sixers.

NBA Summer League: THAT’S the Lonzo Ball fans were waiting to see!

After two performances that had critics coming out of the woodwork, Lonzo Ball exploded for 36 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds as his Los Angeles Lakers rallied from double digits down to thrill a pro-Lakers crowd. 

Ball’s balling:

  • 36 points, including 28 in the second half, to lead his team from 15 points down midway through the third quarter (and six points down with 1:29 left in the game).
  • Highlight reel assists throughout the night, including a length-of-the-floor touchdown pass.
  • 9 of 12 from the free throw line, after he failed to earn a single free throw attempt in his prior two outings.
  • 9 of 12 on two-point shots, after he had earned criticism for not getting to the rim in his prior two outings

Now, it has to be said that this wasn’t exactly a defensive showcase. Both teams tended to stay out of the way of oncoming drivers. That played right into the hands of an athlete like Ball. 

  • Philadelphia shot 27 of 45 on two-pointers, 60%!
  • Los Angeles shot 30 of 44 on two-pointers, an even better 68%!

It was a glorified pick-up game. Ball plays GREAT in glorified pick-up games. 

Late day bettors weren’t able to cash their tickets on the Lakers at -1.5 or -2. The line was -1 earlier in the day when there was some uncertainty about whether or not Ball would return from his game three absence vs. Sacramento.

The Lakers advance to play #2 seed Cleveland Thursday night in the late tip at Thomas & Mack (7:30 p.m. here in Las Vegas, 10:30 p.m. ET). Here’s more on the Cavs and other top seeds… 

NBA Summer League: A quick peek at rested top 8 seeds as “Round of 16” begins Thursday

Six teams finished the three-game preliminary stage in Las Vegas with undefeated records. Important for handicappers to break down “strength of schedule” for those victories since none of the undefeated ran into each other. A pair of 2-1 teams also earned first-round byes. Here’s a quick look at the eight rested entries who begin their knockout challenges Thursday.

1…Toronto (3-0): wins over #24 seed New Orleans by 3, over #11 Minnesota by 25, and over #23 Denver by 1. The Raptors beat the bottom two seeds in the brackets in close games, but crushed Minnesota. Not really a true top seed in terms of consistently strong play. 

2…Cleveland (3-0): wins over #14 Milwaukee by 29, over #10 Houston by 5, and over #22 Golden State by 17. More impressive schedule than Toronto, with two big blowouts. 

3…Dallas (3-0): wins over #12 Miami by 5, over #17 Chicago by 16, and over #13 Phoenix by 11. That’s plus-32 in point differential playing teams who went 4-2 when not facing Dallas. The true #1 seed…off their “championship” in the Orlando Summer League. Nobody’s playing better ball than Dallas this summer.

4…Memphis (3-0): wins over #20 Utah by 3 in overtime, #19 Sacramento by 6, and over #21 Washington by 3. All grinders over seeds averaging #20…so the Grizzlies didn’t really establish enough dominance to think of them as the fourth best team in Vegas.   

5…LA Clippers (3-0): wins over #19 Lakers by 3 in OT, over #20 Utah by 19, and over #14 Milwaukee by 7. Very solid run for the Clips, who didn’t let down after that high energy “upset” of the Lakers in their opener. Might continue to offer value.

6…Boston (3-0): wins over #18 Philly by 5, #19 Lakers by 5, and over #16 Portland by 6. Solid because those were all wins by at least five points and none of the opponents were seeded in the twenties. Nothing “explosive,” but consistent superiority over teams in the high teens. Nice sleeper.

7…Brooklyn (2-1): wins over #9 Atlanta by 3, and over #24 New Orleans by 29, but a loss to #14 Milwaukee by 5. Well, they crushed the worst team in the tournament, but barely snuck by the ninth seed. Not much is going to separate teams seeded in the 7-12 range, who all finished with 2-1 records. 

8…San Antonio (2-1): wins over #16 Portland by 14, and by 6 over #18 Philadelphia, but a loss to #12 Miami by 1. Respectable schedule for the Spurs, with a plus 19-point differential that puts them on the short list of teams who matter. 

Cleveland or Dallas is probably the “real” top seed, though Thursday’s pricing suggests #13 Phoenix was still at or near the top of oddsmaker Power Ratings even before they beat Utah by 16. 

Here are Wednesday’s opening round final scores…

  • #24 New Orleans (plus 2) upset #9 Atlanta 105-96. Will face #8 San Antonio
  • #23 Denver (plus 1.5) upset #10 Houston 87-81. Will face #7 Brooklyn
  • #22 Golden State (-1) beat #11 Minnesota 77-69. Will face #6 Boston
  • #12 Miami (pick-em) edged #21 Washington. Will face #5 Clippers
  • #13 Phoenix (-3) pounded #20 Utah 97-81. Will face #4 Memphis
  • #19 Sacramento (plus 1.5) beat #14 Milwaukee 69-65. Will face #3 Dallas
  • #15 LA Lakers (-1.5) beat #18 Philadelphia 103-102. Will face #2 Cleveland 
  • #16 Portland (-2) beat #17 Chicago 88-77. Will face #1 Toronto

With Ball back in the headlines, look for plenty of summer league discussion through the weekend on VSiN programming.

Wimbledon: Big dogs cash TWICE in men’s quarterfinals Wednesday

Grand Slam tennis on the men’s side often sees the usual suspects surviving to the usual rounds. But, Wednesday brought a pair of shockers in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Wednesday’s Men’s Quarterfinals

  • Sam Querrey (plus 400) beat Andy Murray 3-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, 6-1
  • Marin Cilic (-450) vs. Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-1
  • Roger Federer (-480) vs. Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6
  • Tomas Berdych (plus 280) vs. Novak Djokovic 7-6, 2-0 retired

Djokovic was unable to continue because he aggravated a lingering elbow injury. Murray sure fell apart against Querrey, the first American male to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2009. 

The women return to the court Thursday. Here are composite offshore odds for those matchups…

Thursday’s Women’s Semifinals

  • Garbine Muguruza (-240) vs. Magdalena Rybarikova ( 200)
  • Johanna Konta (-120) vs. Venus Williams (even)

Mugu’s friendlier remaining draw has positioned her as the favorite to lift the ladies’ trophy this weekend…

Betfair Exchange Odds to Win Wimbledon

  • Muguruza plus 168
  • Konta plus 245
  • Williams plus 320
  • Rybarikova plus 800

More big chalk for the men when Wednesday’s winners return to the court Friday...

Friday’s Men’s Semifinals

  • Roger Federer (-700) vs. Tomas Berdych (plus 450)
  • Marin Cilic (-300) vs. Sam Querrey (plus 240)

Federer was the pre-tournament favorite at the start of the fortnight. He is now a stronger favorite with dangerous threats waylaid in prior rounds.

Betfair Exchange Odds to Win Wimbledon

  • Federer -260
  • Cilic plus 470
  • Berdych plus 1600
  • Querrey plus 2300

A quick reminder that “exchange” odds are often friendlier to the bettor than standard futures prices because the exchange simply takes a fee for matching “yes” and “no” bettors in a very liquid environment. 

Canadian Football: Week 4 begins Thursday night with Toronto at Winnipeg

We continue our summer diversion with the CFL…knowing that the NFL preseason is only about a month away. Four games again this weekend, beginning Thursday night with what is likely to be a very fast-paced game matching the Argos and Blue Bombers.

Thursday: Toronto at Winnipeg (-3.5, total of 54)

Toronto is likely to be one of those teams that confounds you if you can’t get in sync with them, but rewards you mightily if you do. Marc Trestman’s new squad impressed in a season opening rout of Hamilton 32-15 (winning yards-per-play 8.7 to 4.5), and last week in a road upset of Ottawa (winning yards-per-play 7.7 to 6.1). Between those, a home loss to British Columbia where they only had six points entering the fourth quarter. Winnipeg opened with a bye, won at lousy Saskatchewan, but then was badly outclassed last week at home by Grey Cup favorite Calgary. The market has pushed Winnipeg off the key number of three (though it’s less of a key number north of the border). Still some non-believers in the Argos. Note that Winnipeg’s pass defense allowed 362 yards to Saskatchewan, and 325 yards to Calgary. Toronto passed for 485 vs. Hamilton and 350 at Ottawa. 

Friday: Calgary (-4.5, total of 48.5) at Montreal)

Montreal has had trouble staying on the field, running just 48, 42, and 51 plays when the league centers in the mid 50’s. They lost by 7 at home to British Columbia last week, and now host a team that’s better than B.C. Will Calgary let down in a second straight road game, when the first was against a divisional rival? That seems to be the best chance for a nailbiter. Otherwise, class wins out. 

Friday: Ottawa at Edmonton (-3.5, total of 57.5)

Edmonton is coming off a bye, which can be a negative early in the season when teams are trying to find a rhythm. That’s the case you can make for an upset…the visitor won’t be rusty while the host might be. But, the visitor could be out of gas! Ottawa opened with back-to-back games against powerful Calgary, then lost a 26-25 heartbreaker at home to Toronto last week. 

Saturday: British Columbia (-3, total of 51) at Hamilton

We mentioned earlier this week that Hamilton has been a special kind of horrible. They’ve been outgained 524-232 and 466-206 by opponents who weren’t getting market respect heading into the season (Toronto and Saskatchewan). They lost yards-per-play 8.7 to 4.5 and 7.5 to 4.6. If THAT version of Hamilton is still on the field, they will get crushed by BC. Handicappers must determine if the Tiger-Cats are ready to show up and play. Helping the home dog…this is the third straight road game for BC, after visits to Toronto and Montreal the past two weeks. In pro and college football in the US, many old school handicappers won’t lay points in a third straight road game, no matter how bad the opponent. 

VSiN’s broadcast hosts will talk more CFL on each game day. We’ll pick up newsletter coverage again Monday with boxscore summaries. 

MLB: How teams have performed so far vs. quality opposition

As promised, we’re back with additional baseball handicapping fodder during the All-Star Break. Today we look at how teams have performed against opponents who are currently .500 or better in the standings. This is a stat kept by the very informative baseball-reference website as part of their in-depth standings page (scroll down and use the wide-screen view).  

We’ll go division-by-division…

NL East

  • Washington 7-3
  • Atlanta 10-13
  • Miami 9-15
  • Philadelphia 8-22
  • NY Mets 5-21

That’s right, Washington has only played 10 of its 88 games this season against opponents at .500 or better! That’s a crime! The Nats have an impressive win percentage in those 10 tests. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to know if that foreshadows success in the playoffs or not. Not too many surprises otherwise. Though, Atlanta is probably holding its own better than casual fans would have guessed. 

NL Central

  • Milwaukee 9-11 
  • Pittsburgh 15-17
  • St. Louis 14-21
  • Chicago Cubs 13-21
  • Cincinnati 13-24

Milwaukee playing only 20 games against losers would have seemed lame if we hadn’t just seen that Washington’s only played 10. Milwaukee’s first half seems less impressive when you realize that 71 of its 91 games have come against losing teams. Nobody in this division has a winning record vs. quality. The Cubs and Cards have been outclassed. (Note, also, that St. Louis has played a lot more home games than road games). Disappointing division. 

NL West

  • LA Dodgers 21-13 
  • Arizona 18-17
  • Colorado 19-18
  • San Francisco 17-28
  • San Diego 16-31

The Dodgers have been on such a tear this season that 21-13 doesn’t jump out as impressive. But, 21-13 vs. quality and 40-16 vs. losers is a sign of league dominance. Arizona and Colorado are both hold their own vs. quality…which is proof that they themselves belong in the playoffs too. If you’re playing even with other top contenders, you’re legitimate. 

AL East

  • NY Yankees 16-14
  • Boston 15-17
  • Tampa Bay 16-17
  • Toronto 19-23
  • Baltimore 22-36

The biggest lesson here is down at the bottom. Baltimore has played the most brutal schedule in the majors, and has clearly established that they’re outclassed by quality. We could be in for a very exciting divisional race down the stretch. Tampa Bay is positioned to make things interesting. Boston hasn’t yet established in this stat that they’re going to surge into the postseason. 

AL Central

  • Cleveland 19-20
  • Detroit 22-24
  • Kansas City 20-24
  • Minnesota 17-24
  • Chicago White Sox 19-27

Through the course of the season, we’ve come across a variety of stats that suggest Minnesota is a pretender. We found another! Nobody in the division has a winning record. When studying the AL earlier this week, we found good statistical evidence that Boston and Cleveland are well-positioned to fulfill their futures prices. Today’s stat study vs. quality helps explain why it hasn’t happened already. 

AL West

  • Houston 15-14 
  • Seattle 16-20
  • LA Angels 17-24
  • Texas 16-23
  • Oakland 16-24

This is interesting. Houston may be running away and hiding from the American League. But, they’re doing that by bullying bad teams rather than expressing edges vs. good teams. Remember, the Dodgers were 21-13. Houston is barely over .500 in just under 30 tries, while they’re a full 30 games over .500 vs. losers (45-15). Remember how the market futures prices had Houston, Cleveland, and Boston clustered fairly close together? This stat is showing why the market isn’t quite sold yet on Houston as a postseason juggernaut. They won’t get a chance to obliterate losing teams in the playoffs. 

Sports Betting News: Judge has denied Billy Walters’ request for retrial, legendary gambler asking to spend one year and one day in prison was first with the news Wednesday evening that a federal judge in New York had denied fabled gambler Billy Walters’ request for a retrial in his insider trading case. 

The article states that court officials, probation officials, and the Walters camp are in agreement on a sentence of one year and one day in prison (after court officials had initially indicated a range of seven to nine years). Government officials have yet to state their preference. Formal sentencing will occur later this month.

You can read the full article here.

Back tomorrow to wrap up another week in this fast-moving summer. If you haven’t yet subscribed to VSiN City, you can do that by clicking here. Remember that subscribers are automatically entered into a drawing to win a free entry to the 2017 Westgate SuperContest, and also receive a link to the daily betting sheets from the South Point.

Twitter continues to be a great way for sports fans to keep in touch with VSiN news and programming bulletins. Click here to follow us. If you have any questions or comments about our shows or the newsletter, please drop us a note

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