Bad beats: Defining tough luck and poor plays

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by - 2/10/2009 4:10 AM Share

David Payne writes for Ben Burns.

Bad beats not only damage bankrolls, but they also can take a heavy toll on a gambler's confidence.

That's why it's important to analyze but not be overly critical of your decision when a meaningless layup costs you a cover; or when a game stays way under the total through the first overtime, but goes over in the second OT.

This poop happens to all of us. Those of us who learn from it become better handicappers. Those of us who whine about it become writers for Covers.

In order to actually learn something from a bad beat, it's important to first determine whether or not an actual bad beat caused was suffered. Or was it simply a game that a disciplined handicapper would have been able to avoid?

All too often, the latter is the answer.

Here are two examples. You decide in the comment section which one is a bad beat and which is not.

Minnesota at New Orleans (-2.5), Sunday

The Hornets were without Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler, leaving David West and Peja Stojakovic to carry the bulk of the offensive load. West was ejected for a flagrant foul in the second quarter, and Stojakovic hit one of his first 10 shots.

Minnesota led for the majority of the game, holding nine-point leads several times.

But the Hornets, who led for only three and a half minutes of the game, mounted an improbable run and found themselves down 96-95 with 16 seconds remaining.

Hornets guard Devin Brown drove into lane, but was stripped by Minnesota's Sebastian Telfair. The ball squirted right into the hands of Hornets' reserve center Sean Marks, who slammed it home with 7.9 seconds to play.

Still, Minnesota would have the last shot, and even with a miss, would still cover.

But, instead, the Wolves turned it over, when Telfair's long pass soared over Mike Miller's head and into the Minnesota bench with four seconds left.

The Wolves were forced to foul, and Stojakovic made both free thows to extend the lead to three.

Leading by three, the Hornets' fouled Telfair with one second remaining. After hitting the first free throw to cut the lead to two, he intentionally missed the second. Ryan Gomes corralled the rebound, but was called for a foul, sending Stojakovic back to the line. Stojakovic, a 90-percent free-throw shooter, made both, pushing the lead back to four.

Telfair jacked up a 46-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer that was no good. Game over: New Orleans 101, Minnesota 97.

Was this a bad beat or not? If so, what were some of the signals that might have pointed to this being a game to stay away from?

Niagara at Iona (Total 139), Feb. 2

Up-tempo Niagara had imposed its will on Iona, much like it had the three previous meetings between the MAAC foes, which all went over 140.
Last Monday's meeting was on pace to do the same.

Niagara led 36-35 at half. Iona charged ahead in the second half, and with 10:59 remaining, the Gaels' Milan Prodanovic hit a 3-pointer for a 53-48 lead.

The two teams needed to combine for just 38 points in the final 11 minutes. In a close, back-and-forth and fast-paced game, that didn't seem like it would be a problem.

But Prodanovic's 3-pointer would be the last points Iona would score. Niagara would score the game's last 17 points for a 65-53 win. Iona missed its last 12 shots and turned it over five times.

Even though the total (118) ended up considerably under the 139, would you consider this a bad beat? How often is a team not going to score in the game's final minutes?

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