Elias Says: March 18, 2018

LeBron triple-doubles: 15 this season, 70 for career

LeBron James earned the 70th triple-double of his NBA career, and his first in Chicago, finishing with 33 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the Cavaliers’ 114-109 triumph over the Bulls. James now has 15 triple-doubles this season, becoming only the eighth different player, and the oldest player in NBA history, to accumulate a single-season total that high. (James celebrated his 33rd birthday in December.)

Saturday’s game marked the fifth time this season that LeBron has produced a triple-dozen (with at least 12 points, rebounds and assists). Russell Westbrook leads the NBA with six such games this season; other than James and Westbrook, all other NBA players combined have generated only six triple-dozens this season. LeBron and Westbrook also share the NBA lead with four 30-point triple-doubles this season.

Paul, back in NOLA, reaches 2K steals

James Harden finished with 32 points and Chris Paul 21, leading the Rockets to a 107-101 victory in New Orleans. In returning to the city whose team he represented for his first six seasons as a pro, Paul reached a significant milestone. The first of his three steals on Saturday night was the 2000th of his NBA career. Paul became only the 12th NBA player to reach that total and the first since Jason Kidd joined the club just over 10 years ago. It’s noteworthy that Paul required only 885 games to amass 2000 steals, the fifth-fewest games for any player who entered the NBA since it began recording steals in the 1973-74 season. (Alvin Robertson holds the record, having reached 2000 steals in his 726th game back in 1995.)

Pelicans start a stretch of games never seen in NBA history

The NBA has seen its share of scheduling oddities over its 72-season existence, but the Pelicans on Saturday night embarked on a five-day sequence unprecedented in the history of the league. Including a make-up game against the Pacers now scheduled for Wednesday, the Pelicans are slated to play five home games within the next six days. After hosting the Rockets at Smoothie King Center on Saturday night, Alvin Gentry’s squad will welcome the Celtics on Sunday night, and the Mavericks, Pacers and Lakers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, respectively. Upon completion of that stretch, the Pelicans would become the first team in NBA history to play five games in the same arena within a span of six days.

Trail Blazers’ streak reaches 12 wins

Damian Lillard’s game-high 24 points led the way for the Trail Blazers to secure their 12th consecutive victory, by a 100-87 score against the visiting Pistons. Portland’s winning streak is the fifth of 12-or-more wins in the NBA this season. A brief review: Boston won 16 in a row, Cleveland 13 in a row and Houston 14 straight last fall, while the Rockets won 17 in a row from Jan. 28 to March 7. This is only the third season in NBA history in which there have been at least five winning streaks of 12-or-more games; there were five such streaks in 2012-13 and a record six in 2006-07.

Big game by Aldridge boosts Spurs chances

LaMarcus Aldridge bombarded the Timberwolves with 39 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs took a 117-101 decision in San Antonio. The victory left the Spurs and Timberwolves with identical 40-30 won-lost records, but it gave the Spurs a potential tiebreaker edge by virtue of winning the season series, two games to one. Aldridge’s points total was the highest by a Spurs player in a game in which he also had 10-or-more rebounds since Tim Duncan had a 39-and-10 game in a loss to Seattle on Dec. 8, 2004.

The Spurs connected on 19 consecutive field-goal attempts in the first half against Minnesota. That was the second-longest streak of successful field-goal attempts in an NBA game over the last 10 seasons; the Pacers made 20 straight shots from the floor against Denver on Nov. 9, 2010.

Wizards and Pacers are also 40-30

The Wizards defeated the Pacers, 109-102, and those teams now hold identical won-lost records of—you guessed it—40-30. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 19 points, marking the 10th game this season in which Washington’s leading scorer had fewer than 20 points. The kicker is that the Wizards have won seven of those 10 games.

Jazz, 19-28 on Jan. 22, now 40-30

Donovan Mitchell paced the Jazz with 28 points, propelling the team to its 21st victory in its last 23 games, a 103-97 verdict over the visiting Kings. This is only the fourth season in history in which the Jazz has won 21 times over a span of 23 games; the 1994-95, 1996-97 and 1997-98 teams also did that. Only two other NBA teams have won 21 of 23 games this season—the Celtics and the Rockets.

Warriors dominate 3rd quarter again

The Warriors lost at home to the Kings on Friday night when they played without Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. On Saturday night, playing without the same three All-Stars, they trailed the Suns, 60-52, at halftime. But then came the third quarter, during which the Warriors delivered a 42-25 beatdown, and they went on to win, 124-109. It was the 24th game this season in which Golden State has outscored its opponents by 10-or-more points in the third quarter. That’s 10 more games of that type than any other NBA team has produced this season; the Rockets stand second in that category, having outscored their opponents in the third quarter by 10-or-more points in 14 games.

Giannis: second verse, same as the first

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 33 points and 12 rebounds in their 122-117 win over the Hawks in an entertaining game in Milwaukee. Giannis also contributed seven assists, marking his second consecutive game reaching 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Only three other NBA players—who go by the names of LeBron, Durant and Westbrook—have accumulated such numbers in each of two successive games this season. Moreover, the only other Bucks player ever to put together two games of that nature in a row was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose most recent sequence of that sort came back in January of 1974.

Grizzlies start quickly, take down Nuggets

The Grizzlies, a team that entered play on Saturday with the poorest won-lost record in the NBA, outscored the Nuggets, 34-17, in the first quarter and held on to win by a 101-94 score. It’s been a while since the Grizzlies jumped out to that large a lead over the first 12 minutes of a game; in fact, that had not happened since a game in February 2015 against the Nets. But store this one away: Over the 17 seasons since the team moved from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001, the Grizzlies are now 17-0 in games in which they led by 17-or-more points going into the second quarter.

3rd quarter at MSG: Knicks 42, Hornets 17

The Knicks rose up in the third quarter on Saturday night, outscoring the visiting Hornets, 42-17, over those 12 minutes en route to a 124-101 victory. It was the second time this season that New York has outscored an opponent by 25-or-more points in a quarter, after doing it just once over the previous 20 seasons.

Toews & Kane equal NHL record

Jonathan Toews reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th time in his 11 seasons in the NHL when he scored the last goal for the Blackhawks in their 5-3 loss at Buffalo. His teammate, Patrick Kane, who debuted alongside Toews with Chicago in October 2007, has also scored at least 20 goals for the Hawks in all 11 seasons of his NHL career. Toews and Kane have tied the NHL record for most consecutive seasons in which a pair of players each scored 20-plus goals for the same team. The other duos to do that for 11 straight seasons were Detroit’s Gordie Howe and Norm Ullman, 1957-58 to 1967-68; Chicago’s Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, 1961-62 to 1971-72; and Montreal’s Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire, 1967-68 to 1977-78.

Rookie lifts Sabres over Blackhawks

Rookie Nicholas Baptiste scored the tying and go-ahead goals for the Sabres as Buffalo came from behind in the third period to beat the Blackhawks. Baptiste’s first goal tied the score at 3-3 early the third period and his second, with 1:56 remaining, gave Buffalo a 4-3 lead. Over the last ten seasons, the only other rookie to score two third-period goals in one game for the Sabres was Jack Eichel on Dec. 26, 2015 at Boston. Baptiste is the first Sabres rookie to score both a tying and go-ahead goal in the third period of one game since Ales Kotalik against the Bruins on Jan. 10, 2003.

McDavid shines in third period

Connor McDavid had a hand in all three of the Oilers’ third-period goals as Edmonton overcame a 2-1 deficit and beat the Panthers, 4-2. McDavid scored the tying goal in the opening minute of the third period and then assisted on Adam Larsson’s game-winning goal and the empty-net clincher by Ty Rattie. It was the second time in McDavid’s three seasons in the NHL that he earned three points in one period of a game; he also did it in the third period at Colorado on Nov. 23, 2016. McDavid has produced 31 points in the third period of games this season (15 goals, 16 assists), after racking up 34 third-period points last season (11 goals, 23 assists). He’s the first player to earn at least 30 third-period points for the Oilers in each of two consecutive seasons since Jari Kurri back in 1988-89 and 1989-90.

Leafs shut out Canadiens for 2nd time this season

Curtis McElhinney earned his third shutout of the season with a 4-0 win for the Maple Leafs against the Canadiens in Toronto. It was the Leafs’ second shutout of the Canadiens this season, following a 6-0 win by Frederik Andersen in Montreal on November 18. This is the first season in which the Maple Leafs have shut out the Canadiens more than once since 1967-68, when they blanked them twice (with Johnny Bower in goal for Toronto in both games). Andersen and McElhinney are the first pair of Leafs goaltenders each to blank the Canadiens in the same season since Bower (two) and Bruce Gamble (one) in 1965-66.

Krug assists on all 3 Bruins goals

Torey Krug assisted on all of the goals in the Bruins’ 3-0 win over the Lightning in Tampa. Krug’s three assists in Saturday’s game increased his point total this season to 51, matching the career high he set with Boston last season. Krug is the first Bruins defenseman to rack up more than 50 points in each of two consecutive seasons since Ray Bourque did that in each of the first 15 seasons of his NHL career (1979-80 through 1993-94). Krug is the second defenseman in Bruins history to earn at least three assists in a game while assisting on every goal in a shutout win. Bill Quackenbush pulled off that feat in Boston’s 3-0 victory over the Maple Leafs on Jan. 30, 1955.

Schenn comes through in the clutch again

Brayden Schenn ended a personal 10-game goal drought when he scored in overtime to give the Blues a 4-3 win against the Rangers. It was the eighth game-winning goal this season for Schenn, who was traded to St. Louis by the Flyers in June last year. Schenn’s eight game-winning goals are a record for a player in his first season with the Blues. Entering play on Saturday, he had shared the record of seven with Red Berenson (1967-68, the Blues’ first season in the NHL), Christian Bordeleau (1970-71), Pierre Turgeon (1996-97) and Paul Stastny (2014-15).

Don’t look now, but Dubnyk has 200 wins

Devan Dubnyk delivered the 200th win of his NHL career with a 3-1 victory for the Wild against the Coyotes on Saturday. Dubnyk had a career record of 70-82-24 in 192 NHL games for Edmonton, Nashville and Arizona when the Coyotes traded him to Minnesota in January of 2015, but he’s 130-68-18 in 223 games since then. Dubnyk ranks second in wins by an NHL goaltender since the day of his trade to the Wild, behind Washington’s Braden Holtby (140-49-20).

Keller, at 19, has 20 goals

Rookie Clayton Keller scored his 20th goal of the season for the Coyotes in their 3-1 loss to the Wild. The 19-year-old Keller is the third player in franchise history to score 20 goals or more in one season as a teenager. Dale Hawerchuk did that twice for the original Winnipeg Jets (45 goals in 1981-82 and 40 goals in 1982-83), and Peter Mueller scored 22 goals at age 19 for the Coyotes in 2007-08.

Blue Jackets have won 7 straight

Markus Nutivaara’s first game-winning goal in his two years in the NHL enabled the Blue Jackets to extend their winning streak to a season-high seven games with a 2-1 victory over the Senators. Defensemen have scored the deciding goal in five of the seven games during the Blue Jackets’ current winning streak: three by Seth Jones, and one each by Zach Werenski and Nutivaara.

Kinkaid: 38 saves, no goals allowed

Keith Kinkaid stopped all 38 of the Kings’ shots on goal in his first shutout of the season as the Devils won, 3-0, in Los Angeles. His save total in Saturday’s game is the highest by a New Jersey goaltender in a shutout since rookie Scott Wedgewood turned away all 39 shots on goal against him in a 3-0 victory at Pittsburgh on March 24, 2016. Kinkaid has won his last four games, and he’s 9-2-0 since February 13. Since that date, the only NHL netminder with more wins than Kinkaid is Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (11).

Long-awaited Filppula goals leads to Flyers’ win

Valtteri Filppula ended a 25-game goal-scoring drought, the longest of his NHL career, when he scored the game-winning goal in the Flyers’ 4-2 victory against the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Filppula had scored nine goals in the 38 games that he had played this season through the end of December, but he has scored just twice in 34 games in 2018, though both of his goals this year have been game-winners (also January 20 vs. New Jersey).