A triple-double waiting to happen, Russell Westbrook has turned into a one-man wrecking crew. He certainly relishes the spotlight, and the mainstream media will report his latest feat with mesmerizing wonder.
Westbrook was sensational Wednesday, when he totaled 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 114-106 win at Orlando.
But in Las Vegas, where point-spread shenanigans simultaneously thrill and torture bettors, the bigger storyline was that Westbrook authored one of the classic bad beats of the NBA season.
Oklahoma City opened as a 6-point favorite, but money on the Magic dropped the line to 5 at game time. At the South Point sports book, the total climbed from 217 to 221½.
With five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Orlando led 72-51. The margin was 14 with just over six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Magic pulled a disappearing act down the stretch, and Westbrook buried a 3-pointer from 31 feet with seven seconds left to tie the score at 102 and force overtime.
Overtime, of course, is where underdogs go to die.
Westbrook scored seven points in OT, the Magic went scoreless in the final 3½ minutes and the Thunder covered the spread after storming back from 21 down. It’s also worth noting the total landed on 220, right in the middle of the move.
NBA games routinely feature dramatic runs and severe momentum swings, so most bettors should be numb to the bad beats. Still, no loss like that is ever easy to take.
Even the best teams — the San Antonio Spurs, for example — can set up bettors for a crushing emotional fall.
The Western Conference showdown between the Spurs and Golden State Warriors on Wednesday was a huge letdown for everyone who wagered on the home favorite.
San Antonio, which closed as a 5-point favorite, scored the first 15 points and led 23-3 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. A blowout was brewing, right? The live betting line showed Golden State as a 14-point ‘dog and plus-650 on the moneyline.
Kevin Durant still is out, yet never count out Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors wiped out most of their deficit by halftime and rallied for a 110-98 win.
The total opened at 210 and went over the closing number of 207 by one point. The Warriors had stayed under the total in 16 of their previous 17 games and 11 in a row.
There’s rarely a dull night in the wild world of NBA betting.