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Elias Says: March 6, 2018

Quick work for James on 31-point night

LeBron James played only 28 minutes and 44 seconds in the Cavaliers’ victory over the Pistons, but he scored a game-high 31 points. That is the lowest playing time for James in any of the 519 NBA regular-season or playoff games in which he scored at least 30 points.

James, at age 33, is the only NBA player past his 30th birthday to score at least 30 points while logging fewer than 30 minutes in a game this season. Two players in their 30s had such a game last season: Lou Williams for the Lakers and James.

Pacers survive Oladipo’s 10 turnovers

The Pacers survived 10 turnovers by Victor Oladipo and defeated the Bucks, 92–89. We mentioned in yesterday’s Elias Says that Oladipo has the largest increase in points per game from last season to this season among players who appeared in at least 50 games in each season. But he also has the third-largest increase in turnovers per game among that same group––1.2, from 1.8 in 2016-17 to 3.0 this season; only Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince have larger increases in that category.

Celtics forge big early lead

The Celtics forged a 35–16 lead over the Bulls through 12 minutes and went on to an easy win at United Center. It was Boston’s largest lead over Chicago at the end of the first quarter since March 8, 1989 when an injured Michael Jordan missed his only game in a five-season stretch (1986-87 to 1990-91) and the Celtics took advantage to the tune of a 38–19 lead through one period at Boston Garden.

Parker scores 23 off the bench in tight win

Tony Parker came off the bench to score 23 points in the Spurs’ 100–98 win over the Grizzlies. That’s the highest points total for a San Antonio reserve in a one-possession win since December 31, 2014 when Manu Ginobili scored 26 points as a non-starter in a 95–93 overtime triumph against New Orleans.

Gobert going good

Rudy Gobert led all players with 21 points and 17 rebounds to help the Jazz defeat the Magic. It was the fourth time in his NBA career that Gobert earned game-high honors in both points and rebounds and Utah has won all four of those games

Whiteside scores and rebounds

Hassan Whiteside scored 24 points, while shooting 10-for-13 (.769) from the field, and pulled down 14 rebounds in the Heat’s win over the Suns. It was the third game this season in which Whiteside converted at least 75 percent of his field-goal attempts (minimum: 10 FGs made) and grabbed at least a dozen rebounds, tying him with Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan for the league high.

Malkin leads league in 3-point games

Evgeni Malkin scored one goal and set up two more for the Penguins in their 4–3 overtime win against the Flames on Monday. It was Malkin’s 12th game with three points or more this season, the most by any NHL player, one ahead of Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon with 11. Malkin has recorded six of his 12 three-point games this season since January 30, when the NHL resumed play after the All-Star break

Pominville torments Toronto

Jason Pominville was one of the four players who tallied a goal and an assist for the Sabres in their 5–3 win against the Maple Leafs. (The others were Sam Reinhart, Ryan O’Reilly and Johan Larsson.) Pominville has scored 20 goals in his 59 career games versus Toronto (19 goals for Buffalo and one with Minnesota). Only six other active NHL players have scored 20 or more goals against the Leafs: Alex Ovechkin (37), Sidney Crosby (25), Patrice Bergeron (23), Eric Staal (23), Thomas Vanek (23) and Mike Fisher (22).

Karlsson scores game-winning goal

Erik Karlsson has scored only two game-winning goals this season and they have both come in overtime: against the Ducks on February 1 and in the Ottawa Senators’ 3–2 win at Dallas on Monday. Karlsson did not score a game-winning goal in his first season in the NHL (2009–10) but he’s scored 25 game-winners since then, second-most over the last eight seasons among NHL defensemen, behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 26.

Klefbom is OT hero

Oscar Klefbom’s goal 50 seconds into overtime enabled the Oilers to beat the Coyotes, 4–3, after Edmonton blew a 3–1 lead in the final ten minutes of the third period. Klefbom is only the fourth defenseman to score an overtime goal for the Oilers over the last eight seasons. The others are Andrew Ference (one in 2013–14), Andrej Sekera (two in 2015–16) and Darnell Nurse (one this season: Jan. 13 in Las Vegas).