Leonard’s big game leads Spurs to win over defending champs
Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points and added six rebounds and five assists in the Spurs’ overtime win in Cleveland. The last player to register at least 40 points, five rebounds, and five assists in a win over the defending NBA champions was Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson, in an overtime game against San Antonio on Feb. 15, 2006 (42 pts, 8 reb, 9 ast.)
Harden shoots, passes well in win
James Harden scored 29 points on 7-for-9 shooting (77.8%) and dished out 10 assists in the Rockets’ 119–95 win at Memphis. The last NBA player to register as many points and assists with as high a field-goal percentage was the Clippers’ Chris Paul (38 pts, 12 ast, 11-for-14) on Dec. 14, 2013 at Washington.
Chandler dominates glass vs. former team
Tyson Chandler grabbed 16 rebounds against his former team in the Suns’ 107–105 win at New York. Since the Knicks traded him to Dallas in June 2014, Chandler has grabbed 99 rebounds in six games against New York (16.5 per game.) That’s the second-highest average by any player who’s played more than five games versus any opponent over that span. DeAndre Jordan has averaged 17.5 rebounds against the Pacers since 2014–15.
Hill gains revenge over Pacers
George Hill, playing in his first game against the Pacers since being traded last summer, led all scorers with 30 points in the Jazz’s 109–100 win in Salt Lake City. The last ex-Indiana player to score as many points in his first game against the Pacers was Stephen Jackson, who had 36 for the Warriors on Feb. 5, 2007.
Morris beats buzzer off rebound
Marcus Morris’s tip-in as time expired gave the Pistons a 113–112 win over the visiting Wizards. Morris is the second player this season to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater immediately after collecting an offensive rebound. The Bucks’ John Henson also did that against the Nets on Oct. 29.
A big game for guards in Boston
Starting guards CJ McCollum (35 points) and Damian Lillard (28) combined for 61 points in leading the Trail Blazers to a 127–123 overtime win at Boston. The Celtics’ starting backcourt consisted of Isaiah Thomas (41 points) and Marcus Smart (17.) The 121 combined points were the third-most by any four starting guards in one game this season. The Raptors (Kyle Lowry 41, DeMar DeRozan 31) and Lakers (D’Angelo Russell 28, Nick Young 26) combined for 126 points on New Year’s Day, and the Suns (Eric Bledsoe 31, Devin Booker 23) and Blazers (Lillard 38, McCollum 33) accounted for 125 on Nov. 8.
Hornets take lead on Batum’s four-point play
With the Hornets trailing by one point with 3:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, Nicolas Batum was fouled while sinking a three-point shot. Batum made the subsequent free throw and Charlotte never looked back in its 112–105 home win over Brooklyn. It was the latest go-ahead four-point play by any NBA player since the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard connected with 3.5 seconds remaining against the Timberwolves in April 9, 2016. Portland lost that game on a Karl-Anthony Towns shot with less than two seconds remaining.
The real Dwight Howard returns
Dwight Howard returned to form, grabbing 15 rebounds in the Hawks’ 110–93 win over the visiting 76ers. Howard had pulled down just nine boards over his previous two games combined (three on Wednesday at Detroit and six on Friday versus Chicago.) Before this week, Howard hadn’t grabbed fewer than 10 rebounds over any two-game span since the 2009–10 season for Orlando (5 on Feb. 28, 3 on March 1.)
Late steals seal Bulls win
Dwyane Wade and Taj Gibson each had steals in the game’s final 20 seconds as the Bulls held off the Kings, 102–99 in Chicago. The last team to register two steals within the final 30 seconds of a win by three-or-fewer points was the Heat, at Charlotte on Feb. 5, 2016. Wade also had one of the steals in that game, along with Justise Winslow.
Mudiay doesn’t join in fun of blowout
Six Nuggets players reached double digits in scoring in their 123–98 home win over the Clippers. One Denver player who didn’t enjoy the blowout was Emmanuel Mudiay, who missed all eight of his field-goal attempts. Over the last five seasons, only one other player has shot 0-for-8 or worse from the floor in a game his team won by at least 25 points. The Bucks’ Mirza Teletovic missed all nine of his attempts in a 123–96 win over the Wizards on Dec. 23, 2016.
A big game for Waiters after struggling in 2017
Dion Waiters scored a game-high 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting in the Heat’s 109–97 home win over the Bucks. Entering Saturday, Waiters was shooting just 34.5% from the floor in January, the fifth-lowest percentage by any player with at least 75 field-goal attempts in 2017.
Burakovsky ties an obscure NHL record
Andre Burakovsky has scored the first goal in each of the Capitals’ last four games, including their 4–3 overtime win over the Stars in Dallas on Saturday. Burakovsky has tied the NHL record for most consecutive team games scoring the first goal, which has been done many times before but by only three other players in the last 60 years: Chicago’s Bobby Hull (1969–70), Montreal’s Brian Savage (1995–96) and San Jose’s Jonathan Cheechoo (2007–08.)
Niskanen puts up three points versus former team
Defenseman Matt Niskanen, who began his NHL career with the Stars, tied his career highs for points and assists in one game by assisting on three goals for the Capitals in their 4–3 overtime win at Dallas. Niskanen is the first former Stars player to score three points in one game against them since Eric Nystrom did so with a goal and two assists for Nashville on Oct. 11, 2014. Niskanen the first ex-Stars defenseman to register three points in one game versus the Stars since the team moved to Dallas from Minnesota in 1993. The last former North Stars defenseman to do that against Minnesota was Moe Manthan for the original Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 26, 1990 (one goal, two assists.)
Isles finally score more than once on power play
It took them 44 games to do it, but the Islanders finally scored more than one power play goal in a game this season when they beat the Kings, 4–2. Anders Lee scored the first two of the Islanders’ three power play goals in Saturday’s game, with his second PPG snapping a 2–2 tie in the middle of the third period. (John Tavares scored the Isles’ third PPG, into an empty net in the final minute.) The Islanders’ just-ended streak of 43 consecutive games with no more than one power play goal was the fourth-longest such streak to begin a season in the NHL’s expansion era. The teams with longer streaks to start a season since 1967–68 were the 2014–15 Sabres (first 49 games), 2010–11 Blue Jackets (first 48 games) and 2014–15 Panthers (first 44 games.)
Little scores twice on power play
Bryan Little scored two of the Jets’ three power play goals in their 5–3 win against the Blues on Saturday afternoon. It was the third time this season that a Jets player scored two power play goals in a game, with Patrik Laine having accounted for the two previous instances (Oct. 27 vs. Dallas and Dec. 1 vs. Edmonton.) This is the first time since the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011 that the Jets have had at least three multiple-PPG games by their players in one season. The Thrashers last had that happen in the 2007–08 season, when they had four multi-PPG games by individual players: two by Ilya Kovalchuk and one each by Slava Kozlov and Marian Hossa.
Pavelec saves Jets in second period
Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped all 25 shots on goal by the Blues in the second period of his 5–3 win against them on Saturday. Pavelec’s 25 saves are an Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise record for a goaltender in one period and the most by any NHL goaltender in a period in which he did not allow a goal since Jan. 9, 2015, when Michael Neuvirth, then with Buffalo, turned away all 27 shots on goal against him in the second period of a game in Tampa. Neuvirth ended up losing that game by a 2–1 score.
Another big comeback for Minnesota
Erik Haula and Jason Zucker each scored two goals for the Wild in a 5–3 win against the Ducks in which Minnesota overcame a 3–1 deficit. It was the third time this month and the fourth time this season that the Wild won a game in which it trailed by at least two goals, and all of those wins have been recorded in regulation time. This is the first time in franchise history that the Wild has racked up three two-goal (or bigger) comeback victories within one calendar month.
Hartnell records third multi-goal game of season
Scott Hartnell’s second goal of the game snapped a 2–2 tie with just under ten minutes remaining in the third period and that goal was decisive in the Blue Jackets’ 3–2 victory over the Hurricanes. Hartnell has played in all 45 games for Columbus this season but his three multiple-goal games account for a majority of his goals (7 of 13.) The 34-year-old Hartnell (he’ll turn 35 in April) is the oldest NHL player with at least three multi-goal games this season.
Hoffman ties game late
The Senators beat the Maple Leafs, 3–2, in a shootout after Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman tied the score a 2–2 with a power play goal with 71 seconds remaining in the third period. This is the third time that Hoffman has scored a tying goal in the final two minutes of the third period for the Senators. (He also did that against Pittsburgh in April 2015 and the Islanders in December 2015.) The only other players in Senators history to score at least three such goals for the club are Daniel Alfredsson (8), Shawn MacEachern (3) and Wade Redden (3.)
Four points for 35-year-old Vrbata
Radim Vrbata matched his career high for points in one game when he tallied a goal and three assists in the Coyotes’ 5–3 win over the Lightning. This was the fourth time that Vrbata scored four points in an NHL game and the first time since April 2013, when he was in the second of his now three stints with the Coyotes. At age 35, Vrbata is the second-oldest player in Jets/Coyotes franchise history to score at least four points in one game. Ray Whitney was 38 years old when he racked up five points (three goals, two assists) in the Coyotes’ 5–3 win against the Blues on Nov. 13, 2010.
Sabres defensemen surprise with two late goals
The Sabres trailed 2–1 entering the third period of their game at Montreal, but defenseman Cody Franson’s goal with 8:07 left to play tied the score at 2–2 and fellow blueliner Zach Bogosian’s overtime goal (his first goal of any kind this season) earned Buffalo a 3–2 victory against the Canadiens. The Sabres entered play on Saturday with a league-low total of five goals by defensemen, and they’re still last in the NHL in that category despite the two goals scored by their d-men against the Canadiens. This was the first game in which Buffalo got more than one goal from its backliners since Bogosian and Jake McCabe each scored once in a shootout loss at Pittsburgh on March 29 last year.
Miles Wood continues family tradition of scoring twice in Philadelphia
Rookie Miles Wood scored two goals in an NHL game for the first time to help lead the Devils to a 4–1 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia. Miles’ father, Randy Wood, played 11 seasons in the NHL and his first multiple-goal game was also recorded against the Flyers in Philadelphia (for the Islanders on Nov. 21, 1987; he ended his career with 12 multi-goal games.) Miles Wood’s multi-goal game was only the third by a New Jersey rookie over the last five seasons. The others were by Damon Severson (Oct. 16, 2014 at Washington) and Sergey Kalinin (April 7, 2016 vs. Tampa Bay.)