Australian punter loses six-figure bet in biggest NBA comeback of decade

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Odds are you had a more enjoyable Sunday than one unfortunate punter in Australia.

Australian sportsbook TAB reported taking a $139,500 money-line bet on the Dallas Mavericks to beat the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. It was the largest NBA bet TAB had taken this season -- and it turned out to be on a game featuring the biggest comeback of the decade.

The Mavericks led 83-53 with 2 minutes, 55 seconds left the third quarter and took a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter. Things had gotten so far enough out of hand that sportsbook PointsBet halted live betting on the game. Toronto wasn't done, though.

The Raptors scored 47 points in the fourth quarter, including 20 from Kyle Lowry, and pulled out a miraculous 110-107 win.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, only five teams in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) lost after entering the fourth quarter with a lead of 23 of more points. The Mavs are No. 6.

Teams trailing by 20 points or more entering the fourth quarter were 3-1,667 since the 2009-10 season. The Raptors tallied win No. 4, much to the chagrin of the Australian punter.

"It would be fair to say that the TAB customer in question had a tough morning," Trent Langskaill, media officer for TAB, told ESPN in an email.

The Mavericks-Raptors game tipped off at 7:30 a.m. on Monday in Australia, where the popularity of basketball -- and betting on it -- continues to increase.

"Six-figure bets are not common, but basketball is now the biggest sport in terms of money bet at TAB, which also includes our National Basketball League," Langskaill added. "The interest in the NBL has increased significantly with LaMelo Ball's arrival, in particular."

Here is this week's edition of Notable Bets, ESPN Chalk's weekly recap of sports betting storylines from around the globe.


• On Saturday, a customer at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey placed a $405,000 money-line bet on the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Philadelphia Eagles straight up at -135 odds. The customer returned Sunday and right before kickoff added another $78,000 to his total stake on Dallas. The game ended up being the biggest decision of the season to this point for The Borgata, according to sportsbook director Tom Gable, with 80% of the money bet on the game on the favored Cowboys.

"The Cowboys money just kept coming, and the Eagles money never showed up," Gable told ESPN on Sunday.

The Eagles won 17-9, and The Borgata had its best Sunday of the season.

• There were even Eagles doubters at sportsbooks in Philadelphia. An hour before kickoff, the money-line bets on Cowboys-Eagles were split 50/50 at Rivers (SugarHouse) sportsbooks in Pennsylvania.

• "Eagles was our best game by a mile," Caesars senior oddsmaker Alan Berg said. "We won twice as much money on Cowboys-Eagles as we took on the Jaguars-Falcons game."

• Caesars Sportsbook came out ahead in nine of 11 afternoon kickoffs and went into the night game between the Chiefs and Bears having already secured a winning Sunday. The only two games Caesars lost were the Ravens' 31-15 win and cover over the Browns and the Saints' 38-28 win and cover over the Titans.

• MGM's sportsbook in Nevada lost its two big decisions in the early games on the Falcons' 24-12 win and cover over the Jaguars and the New York Giants' 41-35 overtime win and cover over Washington.

Jeff Stoneback, director of race and sports for MGM in Nevada, said he took two bets to win $150,000 on the Falcons at -7 and -7.5. "That hit," Stoneback said Sunday, "and then we had taken a $100,000 on the Giants last night. That was a bad game for us, too."

• Most books reported lopsided action on the Chiefs in the night kickoff. An hour before kickoff at MGM books, more than seven times as much money had been bet on Kansas City as had been bet on Chicago. The Chiefs won and covered the 7-point spread in a 26-3 win.

• The point spread on the Monday night game between the underdog Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings was growing. After opening as 4.5-point favorites, the Vikings were -5.5 heading into Monday.

• The early betting action on Packers-Vikings was evenly divided at Caesars Sportsbook. "We got a sharp bet at Packers +5.5 and another sharp bet Vikings -4 and -4.5," Caesars' Berg said.

• The "Last Man Standing" handicapping contest at Station Casinos in Nevada, which started with 6,492 entries, was down to two in Week 16. The contest requires players to pick one NFL game against the spread each week. With the $150,000 first prize on the line, one of the finalists took the Buffalo Bills +6.5 against the New England Patriots and lost. The other finalist backed the Miami Dolphins -0.5 against the Cincinnati Bengals, a pick that won the contest.

Early Week 17 lines

From Caesars Sportsbook, at completion of Sunday night game.


Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PK, 49.5)
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (Off)
Cleveland Browns (-3, 46) at Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers (-9.5, 41) at Detroit Lions
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5, 43.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (Off)
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (Off)
New Orleans Saints (-13, 48.5) at Carolina Panthers
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-1.5, 37)
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5, 46.5) at New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (Off)
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (Off)
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5, 44.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (Off)
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3.5, 42)
San Francisco 49ers (-3, 47) at Seattle Seahawks

College football

• Caesars Sportsbook reported taking a low five-figure money-line bet on Ohio State at +115 on Sunday. It's the largest bet Caesars had taken on the Fiesta Bowl as of Sunday. Clemson remains a consensus 2-point favorite over the Buckeyes.

• The point spread on the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between LSU and Oklahoma wiggled last week. As rumors of and eventual confirmation of suspensions for Oklahoma, the line grew from LSU -13 to LSU -14 last Tuesday. A day later, though, with injury concerns about LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the line ticked back down to Tigers -13.5.

Odds and ends

2019 in betting

• Teams that attracted most bets at FanDuel in 2019:

MLB: Yankees
NBA: 76ers
NHL: Flyers
NFL: Eagles

Teams that attracted the most money bet at FanDuel in 2019:

MLB: Yankees
NBA: Warriors
NHL: Bruins
NFL: Patriots

MLB season win totals

• Totals are up at sportsbook PointsBet. Some notable early movement:

New York Yankees: Open 97.5; Current 101.5
Cleveland Indians: Open 91.5; Current 88.5
Washington Nationals: Open 89.5; Current 86.5
Los Angeles Angels: Open 83.5; Current 86.5
Houston Astros: Open 99.5; Current 97.5
Boston Red Sox: Open 94.5; Current 92.5
Texas Rangers: Open 75.5; Current 77.5


Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo became the odds-on favorite to win the regular-season MVP at Caesars Sportsbook at -125.

Other contenders:

James Harden +375
Luka Doncic +375
LeBron James +400
Anthony Davis +900

$1 billion in bets

• The sports betting industry in Pennsylvania eclipsed $1 billion in bets in its first year operating with a big November. More than $316 million was bet in November at Pennsylvania sportsbooks, the most of any month since the state began allowing legal betting last November.