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Elias Says: Jan. 19, 2017

Perfect finish for Warriors at home

• The Warriors finished off a perfect four-game homestand with a 121–100 victory over the Thunder on Wednesday night. Golden State enjoyed an average margin of victory of 21.5 points in its wins over the Heat, Pistons, Cavaliers, and Thunder. The last team to sweep a homestand of four or more games with an average winning margin of 21 or more points was the Warriors themselves. Golden State recorded a 22.2 point margin of victory in a 6–0 homestand at Oracle Arena in the 2014–15 season. That had been the only time in franchise history that the Warriors swept a homestand of four or more games by an average margin of 20 or more points prior to this current stretch.

Durant enjoys another big night versus former squad

Kevin Durant bested his old mates for the second time, leading the Warriors with 40 points and 12 rebounds. Durant, who racked up 39 points in his first matchup with Oklahoma City earlier this season, became the third player in NBA history to score at least 35 points in each of his first two games against a former team. John Williamson scored 38 and 50 points, respectively, against the Pacers in 1978, and Charles Barkley had 36 and 35 points against the 76ers in 1993.

Another quick triple-double for Westbrook

Russell Westbrook distributed his 10th assist of the night for the Thunder midway through the third quarter to notch another triple-double, his 21st of the season. Wednesday’s game marked the 15th time since the start of last season that Westbrook clinched a triple-double before the end of the third quarter. The rest of the NBA have combined for 12 such triple-doubles over that span. James Harden has achieved that feat five times since the start of 2015–16, while seven other players have done so once in that span.

Harden-ly any trouble for Rockets versus Bucks

• Another huge night from James Harden helped the Rockets recover from their disappointing loss in Miami and defeat the Bucks, 111–92, in Houston. Harden poured in 38 points while also leading the team with eight assists. That marked the 107th time since joining the Rockets in 2012–13 that Harden scored at least 30 points in a game for Houston while also leading the team (or tying for the lead) in assists. That’s the most games of that kind for any player over the last five seasons; Russell Westbrook is next on the list with 85 such games.

Raptors’ win streak over 76ers goes extinct

• The Raptors suffered a rare defeat to the 76ers, losing 94–89 in Philadelphia to snap Toronto’s four-game winning streak. Wednesday’s result occurred four years ago to the day of the Sixers’ last win over the Raptors – Philadelphia prevailed in overtime over Toronto on Jan. 18, 2013. The Raptors claimed victory in each of the next 14 matchups between the two squads before losing on Wednesday. Those 14 straight victories comprise the second-longest winning streak for the Raptors against a particular opponent. Toronto won 16 straight encounters against the Bulls from 1999 to 2002.

Embiid looking more like the answer for 76ers fans

Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 26 points, marking his 10th consecutive game with 20 or more points for Philadelphia. The only other player in franchise history to score at least 20 points in 10 consecutive games within his rookie season was Allen Iverson. “The Answer” ended the 1996–97 season with 11 consecutive 20-point games, helping him lock up that season’s Rookie of the Year award.

Wall and Porter post 25-point nights against Grizz

John Wall and Otto Porter Jr. each racked up 25 points for the Wizards in their 104–101 victory over the Grizzlies. Wall and Porter are the first pair of teammates since the start of last season to score 25 points apiece against the Grizzlies in a game their team won. There have been five other duos in that span to reach 25 points versus Memphis, a list that includes LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (March 7, 2016) as well as the Warriors’ MVP duo of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant (Jan. 6, 2017), but Memphis came away victorious in all five of those contests.

Pistons pound Hawks on the boards

• The Pistons dominated the Hawks on the glass in Detroit’s 23-point victory over Atlanta on Wednesday. The Pistons finished with a season-high 60 rebounds, almost doubling the Hawks’ total of 32 boards. The difference of 28 rebounds is the largest of any NBA game this season. The last time Detroit enjoyed a rebounding advantage of that level in a matchup with the Hawks took place 43 years ago. On Jan. 25, 1964, despite grabbing 77 rebounds to easily dwarf their opponent’s total of 44 boards, the Pistons were defeated by Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks at Cobo Arena in Detroit.

Magic fizzles out in New Orleans

Anthony Davis led all players with 21 points in the Pelicans’ 118–98 victory over the Magic. Orlando’s leading scorers were Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, who totaled 14 points apiece. Over the last six seasons (2011–12 to date), the Magic are 0–15 in games that none of its players reached 15 points. The only NBA team to win a game of that kind this season is the Grizzlies, who were led by Chandler Parsons’ 12 points in their victory at Dallas on November 18.

Rose rebounds and so do Knicks

Derrick Rose scored 30 points and secured a season-high 10 rebounds to lead the Knicks to victory over the Celtics in Boston. Rose did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, leading all players with 12 points and seven boards. Wednesday’s game marked the 83rd time that Rose scored at least a dozen points in a quarter, but it was the first time in Rose’s career that he corralled as many as seven rebounds in a period.

McDavid caps memorable night with OT winner

Connor McDavid capped a three-point night with the game-winner in overtime for the Oilers in their 4–3 victory over the Panthers. McDavid’s first point of the night – an assist on a first-period goal by Zack Kassian which gave Edmonton a 1–0 lead – was the 100th point of his NHL career. McDavid reached the 100-point mark in his 92nd NHL game. The only other active NHL players who hit the century point plateau in fewer than 100 games are Alex Ovechkin (77), Sidney Crosby (80), Evgeni Malkin (89) and Paul Stastny (99).

Less stressful night for Murray and Penguins

Matt Murray, who allowed seven goals in his win for the Penguins against the Capitals on Monday, had a much calmer night on Wednesday as he recorded a 4–1 victory at Montreal in which he faced only 20 shots on goal. Murray is the first rookie goaltender to win a game for Pittsburgh against the Canadiens since Marc-Andre Fleury beat them twice during the 2005–06 season (6–4 and 5–4). Murray is only the second Penguins rookie to beat the Canadiens and allow no more than one goal in that game. The first was Al Smith, in a 2–1 win at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh on March 4, 1970.

Nielsen caps big comeback for Red Wings with shootout winner

Frans Nielsen scored the deciding goal in the shootout which enabled the Red Wings to beat the Bruins, 6–5, in a game in which Detroit trailed 3–0 and 4–1. It was the 44th shootout goal of Nielsen’s career, tying Radim Vrbata for the NHL record, and his 19th deciding goal in a shootout, the most by any player. This was the first time in exactly two years that the Red Wings won a game in which they trailed by at least three goals. Before Wednesday’s comeback, Detroit’s most recent such win had been a 6–4 victory against the Sabres on Jan. 18, 2015.

Fleet of Jets on scorecard in Winnipeg

• Fifteen different players recorded at least one point for the Jets in their 6–3 victory over the Coyotes, though only two Winnipeg players, Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little, had as many as two points. That ties the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise record for most players with points in one game, a mark set in the Jets’ 9–8 win at Philadelphia on Oct. 27, 2011. Four of the Jets players who notched a point in that game more than five years ago also produced a point for Winnipeg in Wednesday’s game: Byfuglien, Bryan Little, Chris Thorburn and Blake Wheeler. Two other Jets who scored a point in the 2011 game, Toby Enstrom and Mark Stuart, were among the three Winnipeg skaters who failed to register a point against the Coyotes.

Cooperstown opens its doors to Raines, Bagwell and Rodriguez

• The long wait for Tim Raines finally came to an end on Wednesday. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced that in his final year on the ballot, Raines received a check mark from 86 percent of the voters, more than enough for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Raines played in 2,502 major-league games spanning from the 1970s to the 2000s. He was one of four players in major-league history to steal a base in four different decades, along with Ted Williams, Rickey Henderson, and Omar Vizquel. Speaking of steals, Raines led the National League in stolen bases in each of his first four full seasons with the Expos from 1981 to 1984. In both 1985 and 1986, Raines stole 70 stolen bases while getting caught nine times. No other player in the last 100 years compiled that many stolen bases in a season while getting caught fewer than 10 times.

Raines was by no means a one-tool player, however. He won the NL’s batting title in 1986 by hitting a career-high .334 for Montreal, while also leading the league in on-base percentage (.413). Raines’ 1202 hits in his first seven full seasons (1981–87) were the most in the majors over that span, and his 719 runs scored ranked second to fellow Hall-of-Fame leadoff man Rickey Henderson (780). Raines was named an All Star in each of those seven seasons from 1981 to 1987, tying Gary Carter for the most All Star appearances in Expos/Nationals franchise history.

• Jeff Bagwell will join Raines in Cooperstown as the longtime Astros first baseman was also inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bagwell scored 1517 runs and drove in 1529 runs over 15 fantastic seasons for the Astros. Only three other players in major-league history played 10 or more seasons in the majors while averaging at least 100 runs and 100 RBIs per year. You might have heard of them: Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Albert Pujols. Though Bagwell never won a batting title, he owns the highest single-season batting average in Astros history, having hit .368 in his MVP-season of 1994. He also owns Houston’s seasonal records for highest on-base percentage (.454 in 1999) and slugging average (.750 in 1994).

Bagwell topped 40 home runs in three seasons with the Astros, swatting 43 homers in 1997, 42 round-trippers in 1999, and a franchise-record 47 bombs in 2000. The other 868 players to appear in a game for Houston have combined for three such seasons – Lance Berkman had two 40-homer seasons and Richard Hidalgo had one. Bagwell also drew over 100 walks in seven straight seasons from 1996 to 2002, including a franchise-record 149 bases on balls in 1999. No other Astros player has even half as many seasons with 100 or more walks.

• Ivan Rodriguez also punched his ticket to Cooperstown after receiving support from 76 percent of the BBWAA’s voters in his first year of eligibility. “Pudge” set several records as a catcher over 21 major-league seasons. Rodriguez’s record of 2749 hits while batting as a catcher is quite secure, especially when considering that no other catcher has come within 500 hits of that lofty mark (Jason Kendall is second on the list at 2160). Rodriguez also has the most RBIs by a catcher (1290) as well as the most runs scored by a catcher (1316). Rodriguez won the American League MVP award in 1999 after accumulating 35 home runs, 113 RBIs, and 116 runs scored while batting as a catcher. No catcher in American League history has ever surpassed any of those totals in a single season.

Rodriguez’s durability and defensive prowess are also unmatched among catchers. Rodriguez’s 2427 games behind the plate are the most by any catcher in major-league history, and his 13 Gold Glove awards stand as a record for backstops. Rodriguez led AL catchers in percentage of runners caught stealing for six straight seasons (1996 to 2001), gunning down a personal-best 60 percent of runners in 2001. Rodriguez also caught two no-hitters in his career – a perfect game by Kenny Rogers in 1994 and a no-no by Justin Verlander in 2007 – and he was on the field for all but three innings in the 2003 postseason to help the Marlins capture their second World Series title.