As an example, Salerno cites a situation early last season involving the Detroit Pistons. Every time the Pistons played at the Pontiac Silverdome, the site of their 41 home games, the final score exceeded the books' over/under line, an estimate of the total number of points that will be scored in a game. To Salerno, this was a "problem." and no bets were allowed on Piston home games until the cause of the "problem" was uncovered.
"We concluded that when a ball went out of bounds or time was called, the timekeeper would snap the clock off, saving a few seconds here and there." Salerno says. "That added three or four minutes to every game, thereby providing more opportunities to score."
Although they didn't show it last week in Las Vegas, the Jazz is a much-improved team over last season's 30-52 squad, which finished 23 games behind Midwest Division leader San Antonio. Through last weekend, they were 7-9, four games behind the streaking Dallas Mavericks. Adrian Dantley, the 6'5" small-forward scoring machine, who missed all but 22 games last year because of torn ligaments in his right wrist, is back and averaging a league-leading 30.4 points a game, including a 47-point explosion (27 for 31 from the foul line) in the Jazz's 126-124 victory Friday over Denver. Forward John Drew played in only 44 games last season, part of which he spent in a drug-rehabilitation program, but now he's averaging 21.3 points a game. Griffith is second in the league in three-point goal accuracy (21 for 44, .477), and is averaging 19.0 ppg. Moreover, the team is getting help from unexpected sources. Mark Eaton, the 7'4", 290-pound center who seemed to be a bust last year, had 17 points and 12 rebounds and blocked six shots on Nov. 16, when the Jazz beat the Boston Celtics 122-109. And rookie Forward Thurl Bailey played a big hand in the Jazz's win over the Lakers in Los Angeles last week, tipping in the shot that ensured the 130-126 overtime victory.
That was a notable success (the Jazz hadn't won in Los Angeles since December 1978), but the team was flat in its Vegas debut the next night. Utah Coach Frank Layden said after the game. "The Bulls would have beaten us in Chicago or at Niagara Falls."
Maybe, maybe not. But in Las Vegas all bets were off.