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Elias Says: Dec. 16, 2016

Wilson sets record for most home wins in a quarterback’s first five seasons

  • Russell Wilson completed 19 of 26 pass attempts for 229 yards and tossed three touchdown passes as the Seahawks coasted to a 24-3 victory over the Rams on Thursday in Seattle. The Seahawks improved to 34-5 (.872) in Wilson’s home starts in a career that started in the 2012 season. That’s the most home wins as a starting quarterback in a player’s first five NFL seasons, passing Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, who both had 33 home wins from 2008 to 2012.

Lack of offensive fuel in Fassel’s debut

  • The Rams, in John Fassel’s NFL head coaching debut, managed to score just three points in their loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night. Fassel is the 26th head coach in Rams history, and only three of those first 25 saw their team score 10-or-fewer points in their first game as head coach of the team (not necessarily making NFL head coaching debut). The Rams were shut out in their very first game in franchise history, on September 10, 1937 against the Lions, with Hugo Bezdek as head coach. And just over 25 years later, they scored two points in Harland Svare’s first game as their head coach in a 14-2 loss to the Colts on November 11, 1962. The third such instance was in Steve Spagnuolo’s debut, a 28-0 loss to the Seahawks on September 13, 2009.

The Rams have scored 10 or fewer points in eight of their 14 games this season. The last team to have eight or more games with 10 or fewer points scored in a season was the 2011 Chiefs (nine).

Carroll and the Seahawks win the NFC West

  • With their win on Thursday, the Seahawks clinched the NFC West division title. That’s their fourth division title since Pete Carroll took over as head coach in 2010 (previously finishing in first in 2010, 2013, and 2014). Over the last 20 years, four other head coaches won at least four division titles within their first seven seasons with one team: Andy Reid with the Eagles (four), Bill Belichick with the Patriots (five), Tony Dungy with the Colts (five), and John Fox with the Broncos (he was the head coach for just four seasons with the team and finished in first in the AFC West in each of them).

Spurs are road warriors

  • Pau Gasol and Kawhi Leonard each scored 18 points as the Spurs improved to 14-1 on the road this season, with a 107-92 win against the Suns in Phoenix. San Antonio is just the third team in NBA history with at least 14 wins in their first 15 road games of a season, joining the 1971-72 Lakers (14-1) and the 2015-16 Warriors (14-1).

Davis dominates in many categories

  • Anthony Davis scored 35 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and blocked five shots in the Pelicans’ 102-95 win over the Pacers on Thursday. Davis has had at least 30 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocked shots in five of his 25 games this season. Only five others had at least five games of this type within their first 25 games of a season (blocks became an official statistic in the 1973-74 season): Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1975-76 season (10 such games), Bob McAdoo also in 1975-76 (five), Hakeem Olajuwon in 1988-89 (five), Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 (six), and Dwight Howard in 2007-08 (five).

It’s the season of giving

  • The Warriors had 41 assists (led by eight each from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant) on 45 field goals made in their win over the Knicks. That’s the highest percentage of assists on field goals by a team in a game since the Bobcats had 42 assists in 45 field goals (93.3%) on February 11, 2014 against the Mavericks. The last time Golden State had such a high percentage was on December 12, 1995 versus the Heat (34 of 36, 94.4%).

Duo are the stars of the show in the opening half

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 20 first-half points and Jabari Parker added 17 of his own in the opening half as the Bucks came out victorious over the Bulls on Thursday. That’s the most combined first-half points for a pair of Bucks teammates since Monta Ellis (21 first-half points) and Mike Dunleavy (16) on April 11, 2012 in a loss to the Knicks.

Antetokounmpo has scored at least 20 points in a half six times in his NBA career, all coming since the start of the 2015-16 season. That’s more 20-point halves than all other Bucks players combined over the last two seasons (Jabari Parker has three and Khris Middleton has two).

Blazers score 120 points, but can’t get the win

  • The Trail Blazers’ offense put up 120 points, led by 40 from Damian Lillard, but they still fell to the Nuggets, 132-120. It’s the third game this season in which Portland scored at least 120 points but lost, having previously done so on November 23 at Cleveland (137-125 loss) and December 12 at Los Angeles against the Clippers (121-120 loss). No other team has three such losses in the 2016-17 campaign. And the Rockets were the only team with three losses of this type last season.

First combined shutout in Rangers history

  • Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves in his 2–0 win over the Stars in Dallas, though he doesn’t get credit for a shutout since he was replaced in the Rangers’ goal by Antti Raanta for 5 1/2 minutes during the first period after the Stars’ Cody Eakin stunned Lundqvist in a collision behind the net. (Eakin was given a charging major and a game misconduct.) This was the first combined shutout for the Rangers in their 90-year history and the first in any NHL game since Dec. 5, 2015, when Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper teamed up to blank Colorado by a 3–0 score.

Blackhawks take advantage on man advantage

  • The Blackhawks had three power play opportunities in their 5–4 win over the Islanders and they scored on all of them, with Artemi Panarin scoring two power play goals for Chicago and teammate Artem Anisimov notching one. This was the first time that the Blackhawks were “perfect” on the power play in a game in which they had at least three chances with a manpower advantage since April 3, 1993, when they were 3 for 3 in a 3–3 tie at St. Louis. Chicago’s power play goals in that game were scored by Joe Murphy, Brian Noonan and Jeremy Roenick.

Tarasenko demolishes the Devils

  • Vladimir Tarasenko produced a goal and two assists in the Blues’ 5–2 win over the Devils in St. Louis on Thursday, after notching three assists in the Blues’ 4–1 victory at Newark last Friday. Tarasenko is only the second Blues player to register a pair of three-point games against the Devils in one season since they set up shop in New Jersey in 1982. The first was Doug Gilmour, who had two three-point games versus New Jersey in 1986–87, both within a nine-day span.

Dubnyk gets the “W”

  • Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk notched his sixth win in his last six games with a 5–2 victory at Nashville on Thursday. Not only has Dubnyk won his last six games, but he allowed no more than two goals in each of those victories. That matches the longest such streaks this season by an NHL goaltender. The other netminders who’ve won six consecutive games while giving up two or fewer goals in each game this season are Carey Price, Corey Crawford, and Sergei Bobrovsky (whose streak is also a current one).

Busy night for Smith, but he gets the win

  • Arizona’s Mike Smith made 44 saves in his 3–2 shootout victory against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Smith has a 4–0–2 record this season in the six games in which he faced 40 or more shots on goal and a 3–4–2 mark when he faced fewer than 40 shots. No other NHL goaltender has recorded more than two wins in 40-shot games this season.

Rakell’s strongest start yet

  • Rickard Rakell’s tiebreaking goal just over five minutes into the second period gave the Ducks a 4–3 lead in their game at Boston, and it turned out to be the final goal in Anaheim’s win over the Bruins. Rakell did not make his season debut until November 1 after failing to agree on a new contract with the Ducks until mid-October, but he’s scored 12 goals in 20 games and has tied Ryan Kesler for the team lead in goals despite playing 11 fewer games than Kesler. This is Rakell’s third full season in the NHL. In 2014–15 Rakell did not score any goals in his first 20 games, and last season he had only five goals at the 20-game mark.

Toffoli’s terrific in Kings’ win

  • Tyler Toffoli scored the final two goals for the Kings as they recorded a 4–1 victory over the Red Wings in L.A.’s final visit to Joe Louis Arena. This was the ninth multiple-goal game of Toffoli’s five-year NHL career but only his second one on the road. Toffoli’s other multi-goal road game was a three-goal hat trick against the Canucks in Vancouver on December 28 last season.