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Elias Says: March 28, 2017

Spurs knock Cavs from top spot in East

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points while playing 29 minutes, 55 seconds (and, oddly, missing all seven of his three-point field-goal attempts) as the Spurs pasted the visiting Cavaliers, 103-74, to sweep the two-game season series. (For good measure, LeBron James left the game in the third quarter after taking an elbow high on his back.)

With the loss, Cleveland fell behind Boston for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The last time that the Celtics owned sole possession of the best record in the East this late in a season was at the end of the 2007-08 season. The Cavaliers have held sole possession of the best record in the East since November 18 and owned a 5½-game lead over Boston through games of January 10. Cleveland is 19-17 (.528) since January 11, while Boston is 25-11 (.694).

So how many times has one of LeBron’s teams lost a regular-season game in which he played by a margin as wide as 29 points while scoring as few as 74 points? Prior to Monday night, it had happened only twice, and not recently. On Nov. 28, 2007, the Cavaliers lost, 109-74, to the Pistons, and on March 10, 2006, they dropped a 102-73 decision to the Magic. The Spurs now own a 12-13 regular-season record in games in which LeBron has played, including a mark of 8-4 in San Antonio, with LeBron’s team scoring as many as 100 points only once in those 12 games.

As for Kawhi, we’ll observe that you have to be a pretty big star to produce as many as 25 points in a game in which you take at least seven three-point field-goal attempts and miss them all. Only two other NBA players have done such a thing this season: Russell Westbrook (twice) and James Harden.

Westbrook leads spectacular comeback win

Russell Westbrook scored 37 points, including 12 of his team’s 14 points in a breathtaking 14-0 finish to a game in which the Thunder came back to nip the Mavericks, 92-91, in Dallas. The Mavericks had led, 91-78, with three and one-half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but never scored again. Westbrook hit what proved to be the game-winning shot with just over seven seconds remaining. It was the third time in this NBA season that the winning team finished out a game with a run of at least 14 consecutive points. The Thunder scored the last 15 points in a 114-102 win over the Grizzlies on February 3; the next night, the Wizards scored the last 15 points in a 105-91 victory over the Pelicans.

The Thunder became the second NBA team in two days to win a game in which they had trailed by as many as 13 points within the last four minutes of the fourth quarter. The Kings executed a remarkable comeback win of that sort against the Clippers on Sunday night (trailing, 94-80, with less than four minutes remaining).

Westbrook earned his 37th triple-double of the season, and with nine games left in the season, he stands four triple-doubles shy of Oscar Robertson’s NBA single-season record of 41, which has stood since 1962. (The Big O played in 79 of the 80 games that his team, the Cincinnati Royals, played in that 1961-62 season.)

Gobert makes Utah history; Davis gets another 30/15

Rudy Gobert finished with 20 points, 19 rebounds and five blocked shots, overcoming a great individual performance by Anthony Davis and leading the Jazz to a 108-100 victory over the Pelicans in Salt Lake City. Gobert became the first Utah player to reach those three levels (20 points, 19 rebounds, five blocks) in any of the Jazz’s 3060 games since the franchise re-located from New Orleans to Salt Lake City in 1979. That’s right – not even the Mailman had a game like that!

Davis produced 36 points and 17 rebounds, the 15th game this season in which he scored at least 30 points and collected at least 15 rebounds. His current teammate DeMarcus Cousins has six games of that type this season, ranking a distant second to Davis in the NBA. In fact, Davis and Cousins have combined for 21 such games, more than all of the rest of the players in the NBA combined (19)!

DeRozan scores 36, has 4-game total of 136 points

DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points and Cory Joseph contributed a career-high 13 assists as the Raptors rolled to their sixth straight victory, a 131-112 rout of the visiting Magic. The victory, combined with the Cavaliers’ loss at San Antonio, left Toronto three games behind the new Eastern Conference leaders, the Celtics.

DeRozan has produced 136 points over his team’s last four games. Over the Raptors’ 22 seasons in the NBA, that’s the highest points total that one of their players has ever accumulated over a span of four consecutive games, all wins.

Kings, for 2nd straight day, win by minimum margin

Darren Collison hit a pair of free throws in the game’s closing seconds to allow the Kings to squeak by the visiting Grizzlies, 91-90. The victory came a day after the Kings’ amazing 98-97 comeback win over the Clippers in Los Angeles, and it marked the first time that the Kings have won two consecutive games, each by a single point, since the Kansas City Kings did it in November of 1983. Moreover, it’s the first time that the Kings franchise has earned one-point wins on each of two straight days since the Rochester Royals, led by Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman, did it against the Philadelphia Warriors and the Fort Wayne Pistons in December of 1956.

Knicks’ Big Three comes through to beat Pistons

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points, Kristaps Porzingis 25, and Derrick Rose produced a game-high 27 points in the Knicks’ 109-95 victory over the visiting Pistons. It was the sixth time this season that New York’s three biggest stars had each generated 20-plus points in the same game, but it was only the second time that the Knicks had won such a game. Back on December 20, Anthony led the way with 35 points, with Rose contributing 24 and Porzingis 21, in the Knicks’ 118-111 victory over the Pacers.

Athanasiou: 2 OT goals in 2 days

Andreas Athanasiou scored his second overtime goal in two days to lift the Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Monday night. On Sunday afternoon, Athanasiou had produced the first overtime goal of his NHL career to give Detroit a home-ice win over the Wild. Athanasiou is the second player to score an overtime goal in each of two consecutive regular-season games for the Red Wings since the NHL introduced the five-minute OT format in 1983. The first was Todd Bertuzzi in 2009, when he scored OT winners in games against Anaheim (Dec. 11) and Nashville (Dec. 12). The only other NHL players to score overtime goals in each of two consecutive team games this season are the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty (Jan. 3-4) and Alex Galchenyuk (Feb. 27-28).

Gionta celebrates 1000th game with game-winning goal

Brian Gionta, playing in his 1000th NHL regular-season game, scored the game-winning goal for the Sabres in their 4-2 victory against the Panthers. Gionta is the sixth player to make his NHL debut in the expansion era (i.e., since 1967-68) and score the winning goal in his 1000th game in the league. The other players to do that were Gilbert Perreault (for the Sabres in 1984), Mike Gartner (1992), Fredrik Olausson (2002), Jamie Langenbrunner (2011) and Chris Phillips (2012).

Monahan’s third Sweet Sixteen in March

Sean Monahan had a hand in each of the Flames’ goals in their 4-2 win over the Avalanche. Monahan scored 90 seconds into the game to give Calgary a 1-0 lead and later assisted on goals by Micheal Ferland, Troy Brouwer and Johnny Gaudreau. Monahan has produced 16 points this month (six goals and 10 assists in 12 games), which equals his career high for a calendar month set in March 2015 and matched in March 2016. Monahan is the first Flames player to score at least 16 points in the month of March in each of three consecutive years since Jarome Iginla did that in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Blues: 4 goals; Steen: 4 assists

Alexander Steen set a career high for assists in one game by assisting on all of the Blues’ goals in their 4-1 win over the Coyotes. It’s the second time this season that an NHL player has earned at least four assists in a game while recording one on every goal his team scored in the game. The Flames’ T.J. Brodie did that in Calgary’s 4-3 overtime victory at New Jersey on February 3. Steen is the first Blues player to pull off that feat since Doug Weight did so in a 4-1 win against Colorado on Nov. 2, 2006.

Arvidsson’s rampage continues

Viktor Arvidsson’s second-period goal earned credit as the game-winner for the Predators in their 3-1 victory over the Islanders in Brooklyn. Arvidsson had scored only 12 goals in 48 games this season through the end of January, but he produced nine times in 13 games in February and has scored eight goals in 12 games in March. Arvidsson is the third player in Predators history to score at least eight goals in each of two consecutive months. The other Nashville players to do that were Steve Sullivan (with eight goals in both December 2005 and January 2006) and Patric Hornqvist (eight goals each in December 2009 and January 2010).

Hedman’s 3-assist game leads to Lightning win

Victor Hedman assisted on three goals, including the overtime winner by Yanni Gourde, as the Lightning overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Blackhawks, 5-4. It was Hedman’s fourth three-assist game this season, which ties Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Getzlaf and Tyler Seguin for the league high in that category. Hedman is the fourth player in Lightning history to rack up three or more assists in a game at least four times in one season. The others were Cory Stillman (four in 2003-04), Brad Richards (five in 2005-06) and Ondrej Palat (four in 2014-15).