Booker explodes for 70 points
Devin Booker scored 70 points on Friday night, tying the 10th-highest total in an NBA game, and the most since Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in 2006, but it wasn’t enough as the Suns lost to the Celtics. Booker became the third player to make at least 20 field goals and 20 free throws in an NBA game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, who did it in his 100-point game in 1962, and Michael Jordan, in a 69-point performance in 1990.
At 20 years of age, Booker is the youngest player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a regular-season game, breaking the record that had been held by Jerry West since he scored 63 points at age 23 in 1962. Jordan, by the way, was younger than West for his 63-point game against the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs.
Harden does it one way or another
James Harden scored 38 points and passed for 17 assists in the Rockets’ win over the Pelicans on Friday, and he’s had at least 35 points and 10 assists in each of his last four games. That’s the longest streak of that kind since Nate “Tiny” Archibald had a four-game streak in November 1972.
Harden now has 2,123 points and 815 assists this season, making him the third 2,000-point, 800-assist player in NBA history, joining Oscar Robertson, who did it five times (1961–62, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1965–66, 1966–67), and Archibald (1972–73).
Cleveland sweeps Charlotte
The Cavaliers completed a four-game season sweep of the Hornets on Friday, over which LeBron James scored 127 points with 38 assists and 32 rebounds. James has never before had that many points, assists and rebounds against an opponent in one season.
Payton’s fourth TD of the month
Elfrid Payton had his fourth triple-double of March in Orlando’s win over Detroit on Friday. At 23 years of age, Payton is the youngest player to have four triple-doubles in a month since LeBron James had four in November 2007.
Another 1,000-rebound season for Drummond
The sixth of Andre Drummond’s 14 rebounds against the Magic on Friday night was his 1,000th of the season, marking his fourth season (and fourth consecutive season) with a rebound total in the four figures. Drummond, who won’t turn 24 until August, became only the second player in NBA history to produce four 1,000-rebound seasons before his 24th birthday, the other being Dwight Howard, starting with the 2005–06 season.
Warriors pass it around
The Warriors had an assist on 84 percent of their field goals on Friday (37 of 44), the fifth-highest percentage in an NBA game this season. Golden State has the gold and the silver in that department, with assists on 91 percent of their field goals on December 15 against the Knicks and 89 percent on November 23 against the Lakers.
Back to back 30/10 games for Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo had his second straight game with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in the Bucks’ win over the Hawks on Friday. He’s the first Milwaukee player to have consecutive games of 30 points and 10 rebounds since Vin Baker in 1996 and before him, Terry Cummings in 1987.
Another rookie produces for 76ers
Dario Saric scored 32 points in the 76ers’ win over the Bulls on Friday, tying the second-highest total by a rookie in a game this season. His teammate Joel Embiid had games of 33 and 32 points; Skal Labissiere and Yogi Ferrell also had 32-point games.
Saric and Embiid are the second pair of rookies in 76ers franchise history to have 30-point games in the same season. In 1962–63, when the team was based in Syracuse, Chet “the Jet” Walker had two 30-point games and Len Chappell had one.
Pacers streak without a streak ends
The Pacers lost to the Nuggets on Friday, ending a streak of 15 consecutive games in which they alternated wins and losses. That fell one shy of the longest such streak in NBA history. The Buffalo Braves alternated wins and losses in 16 straight games in 1977; two other teams had 15-game streaks: the Lakers in 1966–67 and Knicks in 1997–98.
Gallinari gets Odd Scoring Line of the Night Award
Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points in the Nuggets’ 125–117 victory over the Pacers, even though he made only two field goals. His secret sauce: 17 free throws made. The last NBA player to score 20 points in a game in which he made no more than two field goals was Gallinari himself, who scored 20 points, on two field goals and 16 free throws, in a game against the Clippers on Nov 24, 2015. Only one other player in NBA history has had two such games in his career—Kevin Martin of the Kings did that in 2007 and 2008.
Wizards keep foot on the gas
The Wizards scored more than 30 points in each quarter of their 129–108 win over the Nets on Friday (31–32–34–32). It was the first time in nearly 23 years that Washington scored more than 30 points in each period of a game, having last done so in a 142–100 win over the Celtics on April 17, 1994.
Fox pours in 39 points
De’Aaron Fox scored 39 points in Kentucky’s win over UCLA on Friday, the highest total by a Wildcats player in an NCAA Tournament game since Tayshaun Prince’s 41-point game against Tulsa in 2002. Fox became the first player to make at least 12 field goals and 12 free throws in an NCAA Tournament game since Shaquille O’Neal had a dozen of each in his final game as an amateur, in LSU’s loss to Indiana in 1992.
Kentucky wins battle of history-filled teams
Kentucky and UCLA have combined to play 323 NCAA Tournament games (Kentucky 176, UCLA 147), the highest total for any matchup in tournament history, breaking the mark of 296 games between Kentucky (152) and North Carolina (144) in 2011.
Kentucky and UCLA played each other twice before in the NCAA Tournament. The 1975 Championship Game won by the Bruins, 92–85; and in the Sweet 16 in 1998, won by the Wildcats, 94–68.
Florida squeaks past Wisconsin
KeVaughn Allen scored 35 points before Chris Chiozza’s buzzer beater gave Florida an 84–83 win over Wisconsin on Friday. Only one player in NCAA Tournament history has scored that many points in a one-point, overtime win. Dave Corzine scored 46 points in DePaul’s 90-89, double-overtime win over Louisville in 1978, including the game-winning layup with six seconds remaining.
Jackson does it all in Tar Heels’ win
Justin Jackson scored 24 points with five rebounds and five assists in North Carolina’s win over Butler on Friday and through three games at this year’s NCAA Tournament he’s scored 60 points with 20 rebounds and 13 assists. Jackson is the first Tar Heels player to score at least 60 points with 20 rebounds and 10 assists over a span of three NCAA Tournament games since Charlie Scott in 1969.
Thornwell leads South Carolina to Elite 8
Sindarius Thornwell has scored at least 20 points and grabbed five or more rebounds in all three of his games at the NCAA Tournament. Brandon Ingram had a three-game streak like that last year for Duke, but before him, no player had at least 20 points and five rebounds in each of his first three Tournament games since Arizona State’s Ron Riley in 1995.
Tavares gets 300th assist
John Tavares recorded the 300th and 301st assists of his NHL career in the Islanders’ shootout win against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Tavares, who was selected first overall by the Islanders in the 2009 Enrty Draft, is the first player from his draft class to reach the 300-assist mark. The only other 2009 draftees with at least 200 assists in the NHL are Matt Duchene (241), Victor Hedman (227) and Ryan O’Reilly (226).
Tavares is the 10th player in Islanders history to produce at least 300 assists for the club. Seven of the players ahead of him on the team’s assists leaders list played on all four of the Islanders’ Stanley Cup-winning teams from 1980 through 1983 (Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, John Tonelli, Stefan Persson, Bob Bourne) and one (Brent Sutter) played on the last two of those Cup-winning sides. Besides Tavares, the only player with 300 or more assists for the Islanders who didn’t “win a ring” during his tenure with the team is Patrick Flatley, who joined the team late in the 1983–84 season and played in the 1984 Stanley Cup Final when the “Drive for Five” came to an end at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.
Kucherov is scorching hot
The red-hot Nikita Kucherov assisted on Tampa Bay’s tying goal in the third period and then scored the overtime goal that earned the Lightning a 2–1 win against the Red Wings in Detroit. Less than five weeks ago (through Feb. 20) Kucherov was tied for 23rd in the NHL in both goals (21) and points (49, in 51 games). But he leads the league in both goals (17) and points (29, in 16 games) since then (Feb. 21 to date), which has moved him up to second place in the goal-scoring race (38, behind Sidney Crosby with 42) and tied for fifth in points (with Nicklas Backstrom at 78).
Cracknell an unlikely hero for Dallas
Adam Cracknell notched the first hat trick of his NHL career when he scored three goals in the Stars’ 6–1 win over the Sharks. The journeyman forward had scored only 18 goals in 194 games during his intermittent stints over seven seasons in the NHL entering play on Friday. Only four active players recorded their first NHL hat trick at an older age than Cracknell (31 years, 252 days): Shane Doan (age 35), Zdeno Chara (33), Joel Ward (32) and Matt Cullen (32).
Dempsey returns with a flourish for USA
Clint Dempsey, at 34 years old, became the oldest player to score a hat trick for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a 6–0 win over Honduras on Friday, breaking his own record, set two years against Cuba. Dempsey is the fourth player to have a pair of hat tricks for the USMNT, joining Peter Millar (both in 1968), Landon Donovan (3: 2003, 2007, 2012) and Jozy Altidore (2009, 2013).