40-point games by opposing players
Kevin Love and Damian Lillard each scored 40 points in the Cavaliers’ 137–125 victory over the Trail Blazers. It was the first NBA game this season in which opposing players each scored 40 or more points. There were two such games in the league last season; Stephen Curry (44 points) and Kyle Lowry (41) did it on December 5, as did Curry (51) and John Wall (41) on February 3.
Spurs are 8–0 on the road
The Spurs remained undefeated on the road this season with a 119–114 victory at Charlotte. San Antonio tied a record, becoming the third team in NBA history to win their first eight road games of a season, all by margins of at least five points. The other teams that began a season in that fashion were the 1969–70 Knicks and the 2015–16 Warriors.
Howard turns back the clock
Dwight Howard scored 23 points and snatched 20 rebounds in the Hawks’ victory at Indiana. It was the 46th 20/20-game of Howard’s NBA career, but they have been few and far between in recent years. Howard did that 41 times during his eight seasons with Orlando (2004–05 through 2011–12), but he had only one game of that kind during his only season with the Lakers (2012–13) and three of them during his three seasons with the Rockets (2013–14 through 2015–16).
Harden piles up assists and turnovers
James Harden scored 29 points and handed out 15 assists, but his 12 turnovers contributed to the Rockets’ loss to the Raptors. It was the 19th instance of an NBA player being charged with 12 or more turnovers in a game since the league began compiling that statistic in 1977–78 (and the first since Gilbert Arenas did it for the Wizards in November 2009), but Harden became the first player to turn the ball over at least a dozen times in a game in which he generated as many as 15 assists.
Davis loves The Big Easy
Anthony Davis poured in 45 points as the Pelicans downed the Timberwolves at New Orleans. Davis is averaging 36.9 points per game at home this season, compared to his 23.0 PPG average on the road. That difference of 13.9 points per game is the largest of its kind for any NBA player.
Warriors are helping each other
The Warriors beat the Lakers convincingly and have now been credited with at least 30 assists in each of their last nine games. That is the longest streak of its kind in franchise history, surpassing the team’s eight-game streak last season, and it is the longest for any NBA team since the Hornets set an NBA record with 30 or more assists in 13 consecutive games in 1988–89.
Horford is a playmaker
The Celtics defeated the Nets on Wednesday and the number in the box score that caught our attention was Al Horford’s eight assists. Horford joined Marc Gasol (nine) and Joakim Noah (eight) as the only NBA centers with eight or more assists in a game this season. It was only the second game in the last 30 seasons in which a starting center handed out as many as eight assists for the Celtics! The other Boston center to do so during that time (1987–88 to date) was Mark Blount (eight helpers in a loss at Golden State on Dec. 28, 2005).
Another 25-point game for Conley
Mike Conley scored 25 points and flirted with a triple-double (nine rebounds and nine assists) in the Grizzlies’ double-overtime victory at Philadelphia, after he scored a season-high 31 points at Charlotte on Monday. Conley has scored at least 25 points in 30 games during his NBA career, but this week marked only the second time that he did so in two straight games. Conley produced consecutive games of 30 and 31 points against the Spurs and Suns in January 2014.
Rivers leads the Clippers
Austin Rivers paced the Clippers with 22 points off the bench in their victory at Dallas. It was the eighth game since Rivers joined the Clippers in January 2015 in which he was the team’s outright leading scoring (all as a substitute) and Los Angeles has a 7–1 record in those games.
Centers of attention
Alex Len scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Suns in their victory at Orlando, while his counterpart in the pivot, Nikola Vucevic, produced 21 points and 13 rebounds. It was only the second NBA game this season in which the opposing starting centers each scored at least 17 points and gathered a dozen or more rebounds. The first such game was between the Magic and Heat on October 26, when both Vucevic (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Hassan Whiteside (18 points, 14 rebounds) reached those minimums.
Hayward scores 22 at home
Gordon Hayward scored 22 points as the Jazz defeated the Nuggets in Utah. It was Hayward’s seventh 20-point game of the season, but each of his six previous games of that kind was produced on the road.
None of the Nuggets’ five starters scored in double-digits in their loss to the Jazz. It was the first such game for Denver since a 97–66 loss to the Pistons on March 6, 2004.
A convincing win for the Pistons
The Pistons outscored the Heat in all four periods of their game on Wednesday. Detroit has won only six games in that fashion over the last six seasons (2011–12 to date) and each of those victories have been at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Crosby and Penguins break out in the second period
Sidney Crosby tallied two goals and one assist when the Penguins outscored the Rangers, 5–0, in the second period of their game at Madison Square Garden (which Pittsburgh won by a 6–1 score). This was the first time that the Penguins scored at least five goals in one period of a regular-season road game since March 21, 2000, when Pittsburgh scored six times in the second period of an 8–2 win against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. In fact, the Penguins scored all six goals in the final ten minutes of that period, with Jaromir Jagr leading the way with two goals and one assist during that six-goal outburst.
Crosby’s three-point period was his first since March 28, 2015 (vs. Arizona) and the 18th regular-season period with three points or more in his NHL career. That’s the most three-point periods for any NHL player since Crosby entered the league in October 2005. Alex Ovechkin is second with 16.
Ovechkin has St. Louis singing the blues
Alex Ovechkin recorded the 16th hat trick of his NHL career when he scored three goals for the Capitals in their 4–3 win versus the Blues in Washington. It was Ovechkin’s first hat trick since his last game against the Blues, on April 9 this year in St. Louis, when he scored three times in a 5–1 Capitals victory. This is only the second time in the last five years that an NHL player has scored at least three goals in each of two consecutive games against the same team. Mikkel Boedker did that with back-to-back hat tricks for the Coyotes against the Senators last season (Oct. 24 and Nov. 28, 2015). Ovechkin is the third player in Capitals history to register consecutive hat tricks versus one team. The others were Peter Bondra against the Islanders in February/March 1996 and Alexander Semin versus Tampa Bay in November 2010.
Howard snaps losing streak
Jimmy Howard ended his personal three-game losing streak and the Red Wings’ run of four straight losses with a 2–1 shootout win over the Sabres in Buffalo. He has a nearly spotless career record versus the Sabres, with a 8–0–1 mark in 10 games while never allowing more than two goals in any game against Buffalo. Howard’s 1.46 lifetime goals-against average versus Buffalo is his lowest GAA against any NHL team and the lowest GAA against the Sabres by any goaltender, active or retired, who has faced them at least 10 times.
Four-point game for Cammalleri
Mike Cammalleri had a hand in all four goals the Devils scored in their shootout win against the Maple Leafs. Cammalleri, who had missed New Jersey’s last six games because of his daughter’s illness, scored one goal and assisted on three for the Devils on Wednesday. This was the first time that a Devils player tallied at least four points in a game while scoring or assisting on every New Jersey goal since Feb. 14, 2012, when Ilya Kovalchuk produced three goals and one assist in a 4–1 Devils win at Buffalo.
Lightning strikes quickly
Alex Killorn, Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov scored goals in a 5:17 span late in the third period to turn a 2–1 deficit for the Lightning into a 4–2 Tampa Bay win over the Flyers. Callahan’s goal was his 18th in 42 career games versus Philadelphia and it was his sixth game-winning goal against the Flyers, the second-most by any active NHL player, behind Jaromir Jagr with nine. Callahan’s 18 goals versus the Flyers are at least six more than he’s scored against any other NHL team (next most: 12 vs. Washington).
Predators are stingy at home
The Predators extended their home winning streak to five games with a 5–2 victory against the Stars. The Predators have a 7–1–1 record at Bridgestone Arena this season, and they’ve outscored their opponents 30–12 in those nine games while allowing two or fewer goals in each game. In the NHL’s “modern era” (i.e., since 1943–44) only two other teams gave up two or fewer goals in each of their first nine or more home games in one season: the Sabres in 1998–99 (first 12 home games) and the Maple Leafs in 1961–62 (first ten).
Second shutout for Johnson this month
Flames goaltender Chad Johnson notched his second shutout of the season with a 2–0 victory against the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Wednesday. Johnson posted his first shutout eight days earlier (Nov. 15) with a 1–0 win at Minnesota. Over the last six seasons the only other time a Calgary goaltender recorded more than one shutout in a calendar month was in November 2014, when Karri Ramo kept a clean sheet in his final two games that month (Nov. 26 at San Jose and Nov. 29 at Arizona).