Rockets win again at home vs. T’Wolves; Paul passes Harper in steals
Eric Gordon led all scorers with 30 points and Chris Paul did a little bit of everything (19 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and three steals) in the Rockets’ 116-98 victory over the Timberwolves in Houston. The Rockets have won each of their last 10 home games against the T’Wolves, their second longest current streak of this type, behind a 13-game run versus the Hornets. Minnesota has lost each of its last 10 road games against two other opponents: Raptors (last 13) and Celtics (last 12).
Chris Paul’s first steal of the night was the 1958th of his NBA career, passing Derek Harper (whose jersey number was recently retired by the Mavericks) into sole possession of 13th place on the all-time steals list. The next player Paul looks to pass on that list? That would be Allen Iverson, who had 1983 steals in his career.
(Steals were first compiled officially in the 1973-74 season.)
First half struggles in Boston
The Celtics struggled mightily on offense in their 89-80 loss to the 76ers in Boston on Thursday night. They totaled just 32 first-half points, their lowest opening-half output at home since November 1, 2015 against the Spurs (31 first-half points). Philadelphia did not fare much better in that half, scoring 39 points. The two teams’ 71 combined first-half points were the third lowest total in a half this season, behind the Spurs and Hornets’ 69 first-half points on November 25 and the Grizzlies and Wizards’ 70 first-half points on December 13.
Embiid dominates in 76ers’ win
Joel Embiid had more points (26), rebounds (16), and assists (six) than any other player in the matchup between the 76ers and Celtics on Thursday. That marks the first time in his young career that Embiid has led a game outright in all three of those categories. In fact, you have to go back nearly 28 years to find the last 76ers player to accomplish this feat. Charles Barkley did so on March 19, 1990 at New Jersey, with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Cavs just get by Magic
The Cavaliers ended a four-game losing streak by barely hanging on against the Magic, coming out on top, 104-103, after leading by as many as 23. Isaiah Thomas made two clutch free throws with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the first of which tied the game and the second giving the Cavs the lead for good. Cleveland has won 19 of its last 20 games versus Orlando, dating back to February 8, 2013. The Cavs have won at least 19 in a 20-game span against one other team; they went 19-1 versus the 76ers in the 1990’s (several overlapping spans). Only two other teams have won 19 of their 20 most recent games versus a particular team: Spurs, 19-1 vs. Kings; Warriors, 19-1 vs. Pelicans.
Pacers struggle in fourth quarter as they fall to the Blazers
The Trail Blazers and Pacers, who entered the fourth quarter all tied up at 74-74, went in opposite directions in that final quarter as Portland outscored Indiana, 26-12. The Pacers’ 12 fourth-quarter points tied the fifth fewest for any team in the final quarter of a game this season, and it was Indiana’s fewest since scoring 10 in the fourth on December 14, 2016 in loss at Miami.
James selected to All-Star team for 14th straight season
LeBron James was named as one of the captains for this year’s NBA All-Star Game. James has been selected to the All-Star team in 14 consecutive seasons (starting in the 2004-05 season), tied with Jerry West (1960-61 to 1973-74 seasons), Karl Malone (1987-88 to 2001-02), Shaquille O'Neal (1992-93 to 2006-07), and Kevin Garnett (1996-97 to 2010-11) for the second longest streak of this type in NBA history. Kobe Bryant holds the record, with a streak of 18 consecutive seasons (1997-98 to 2015-16).
*Note that there was no All-Star Game played in the 1998-99 season, so that season does not end a player’s streak.
Malkin leaves his mark
In his 750th regular season game in the NHL, Evgeni Malkin scored the game-winning goal and assisted on another in the Penguins’ 3-1 win over the Kings. Malkin has totaled 881 points in his 12-year NHL career. Among players to debut in the last 30 years, five others have had that many points through 750 games: Sidney Crosby (994), Jaromir Jagr (987), Joe Sakic (920), Alex Ovechkin (887), and Peter Forsberg (885; he played 708 games in his NHL career).
Hartnell scores 100th with Preds
Scott Hartnell scored his 100th career goal for the Predators in their shootout win against the Coyotes on Thursday. Hartnell played his first six seasons in the NHL with Nashville (2000–01 through 2006–07), scoring 93 goals, and he’s scored seven goals for the Predators this season after re-signing with them as a free agent last summer. Hartnell has made two other stops in his NHL career: Philadelphia, where he played seven seasons and scored 157 goals, and Columbus (three seasons, 64 goals). Hartnell is now one of eight active players who has scored at least 100 goals for each of two or more NHL teams. The others are Marian Hossa (3), Jaromir Jagr (2), Jeff Carter (2), Marian Gaborik (2), Rick Nash (2), Zach Parise (2) and Joe Thornton (2).
MacKinnon leads the way as Avalanche winning streak reaches eight games
Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals for the Colorado Avalanche as the team extended its winning streak to eight games with a 5–3 victory against the Sharks in Denver. MacKinnon has produced five multiple-goal games this season and they have all come on home ice. He’s tied with the Flyers’ Sean Couturier for the most home games with two goals or more this season. MacKinnon is the first Avs player with at least five multi-goal home games in one season since Matt Duchene had five in 2010–11.
Bergeron back at it again
Patrice Bergeron recorded the second hat trick by a Bruins player this season when he scored three goals in Boston’s 5–2 win against the Islanders in Brooklyn. Bergeron also accounted for the Bruins’ other hat trick this season, a four-goal game versus the Hurricanes on January 6. He’s the first Bruins player to produce more than one hat trick in one season since Bill Guerin had two in 2001–02. Bergeron is the first Bruin with multiple hat tricks in one calendar month since Rick Tocchet had two in March 1996.
Tarasenko with five straight 20-goal seasons
Vladimir Tarasenko reached the 20-goal mark for the fifth straight season when he scored the first goal in the Blues’ 4–1 win at Ottawa. He’s the first player to score 20 or more goals for the Blues in each of at least five consecutive seasons since the late Pavol Demitra had a seven-season streak from 1997–98 through 2003–04. Tarasenko is the fourth player who was drafted by the Blues and produced a streak of five or more consecutive 20-goal seasons for them. The others are Bernie Federko (a club-record 11-season streak), Brian Sutter (7) and Doug Gilmour (5).
Nash with two in back-to-back games
Rick Nash scored two goals in the Rangers’ 4–3 win against the Sabres on Thursday, after doing the same in the Blueshirts’ victory over the Flyers on Tuesday. This is only the second time that Nash has produced consecutive multiple-goal games in his six seasons with the Rangers; he also did that in 2014 (Jan. 19 and 21). Since 2012–13, Nash’s first season in New York, the only other player to score at least two goals for the Rangers in each of two consecutive team games in one season is Michael Grabner, who did that just over a year ago (Jan. 4 and 7, 2017).
Fleury continues road success
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots in his 4–1 victory against the Lightning in Tampa. Fleury has allowed only one or two goals in each of his six road starts for the Golden Knights. The only other NHL goaltender to allow no more than two goals in each of six consecutive road starts this season is the Flames’ Mike Smith, whose streak is also a current one.
Flyers storm back in third period, win it in OT
The Flyers trailed, 2–0, heading into the third period of their game against the Maple Leafs but they tied the score on goals by Nolan Patrick and Wayne Simmonds, and won, 3–2, when Sean Couturier scored at the 18-second mark in overtime. That is the quickest OT goal by a Flyers player since Dec. 21, 2014 at Winnipeg, when Jakub Voracek scored the winning goal only 10 seconds after the puck was dropped to begin the overtime period. This was the first time that the Flyers won a game in which they trailed by two goals in the third period since their 6–5 victory against the Oilers on Dec. 8, 2016.
Hall wastes no time in extra period
Taylor Hall’s goal at the 34-second mark of overtime earned the Devils a 4–3 win against the Capitals on Thursday. It was Hall’s first overtime goal this season and the eighth overtime goal of his NHL career. Hall has made a habit of scoring quickly in OT, with four of his eight overtime goals coming in the first minute of the extra period.
Jackets goalie is sharp in shootouts
Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 35 saves in his 2–1 shootout win against the Stars in Columbus. Korpisalo has a 6–2 record in shootouts in his three seasons in the NHL, and he has won his last four shootouts without allowing a goal on any of the 10 shots against him in those tiebreakers.