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Suspensions, suit, cause havoc in city’s sports books

May 16, 1997

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The NBA’s decision to suspend four players for tonight’s playoff game between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat threw the legal bookmakers for a loss about what the odds should be. Most, finally, took the game off the board.

New York went from a 5-point favorite to a 3-point underdog after the suspensions Thursday for leaving the bench during a fight in Game 5 on Wednesday. Three of the Knicks _ Patrick Ewing, Charlie Ward and Allan Houston _ were suspended for Game 6 tonight along with Miami’s P.J. Brown, who is gone for the series.

Two other Knicks, John Starks and Larry Johnson, will sit out Sunday’s game, whether it’s Game 7 against the Heat or the opener of the Eastern Conference championship series against the Chicago Bulls.

The game was taken of the board at most books today after the NBA Players Association filed suit to block the suspensions. Bookmakers said they would wait until a judge decided what to do before accepting bets on the game.

``That’s just smart bookmaking,″ said Pete Korner, a supervisor for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which sets most sports book odds. ``There will be plenty of time to bet the game once the judge makes his decision.″

Korner said he doubted the handle _ or total money bet on the game _ would be hurt by the suspensions because the line was adjusted and some books were still carrying the game on their boards.

At the Mirage, one of the first to book the game Thursday after the suspensions were handed down, the line opened at Miami a 3 1/2-point favorite.

No books had actually posted odds for the sixth game prior to the suspensions.

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