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Elias Says: March 7, 2017

Heat’s impressive back-to-back sweep of Cavs

The Heat, fresh off Saturday’s 120-92 beatdown of the Cavaliers in Miami in a game that LeBron James sat out, followed up with a 106-98 win in Cleveland in a game in which LeBron played 39 minutes and scored 30 points. Miami became the first team in nearly 10 years to win two consecutive games, both against the defending NBA champions. (The last team to do it was the Charlotte Bobcats against the defending-champion Heat in April of 2007.)

Not only did James finish with 30 points, but Kyrie Irving had 32. Trouble was, no other Cleveland player reached double-digits in points. So here’s a question for you… Over the history of the NBA, consider games in which two teammates each scored 30-or-more points but no other teammate scored as many as 10 points. Do you think that teams following that pattern have won more games than they have lost? First, so that you have some time to think, we’ll mention that there has been only one other NBA game this season in which a team followed the “two-guys-with-30-but-no-one-else-with-10” structure. And in that game, on Dec. 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, CJ McCollum scored 34 points and Damian Lillard 33 but the Trail Blazers lost, 118-111.

All right, time’s up. Including those two games this season, NBA teams have an all-time won-lost record of 24-28 (.462) when two of their players each scored 30 or more points but no one else scored as many as 10. The teammates who had the most games each scoring 30 without another double-digit teammate? Shaq and Kobe, who did it seven times (with the Lakers winning four of those seven games).

Leonard leads big Spurs comeback

Kawhi Leonard’s total of 39 points included a three-pointer and a pair of free throws over the game’s last half-minute, lifting the Spurs to a 112-110 victory over the visiting Rockets. The furious finish capped an enormous comeback by the Spurs, who had trailed, 39-23, at the end of the first quarter. The victory was the 1138th of Gregg Popovich’s NBA regular-season career, but only the second of those in which his team had trailed by as many as 16 points after the first 12 minutes. The other also came against the Rockets, on April 18, 1999, when Houston led, 31-13, going into the second quarter but San Antonio bounced back to win, 86-83.

Iguodala tied Curry with team-high 24 points

Andre Iguodala contributed a season-high total of 24 points off the bench as the Warriors overcame a fabulous first-quarter of offense by the Hawks to capture a 119-111 decision in Atlanta. Iguodala and Stephen Curry shared scoring honors for the Warriors, and it marked the first game this season in which a Warriors player who did not start led the team, or shared the lead, in scoring. In fact, you have to go back to Nov. 28, 2014 to find the last time that Golden State won a game in which its leading scorer (outright or shared) came off the bench; in that game, Marreese Speights came off the bench to throw in 27 points in a win at Charlotte.

On Monday night, Atlanta had led, 42-35, after the first 12 minutes, marking the first time in the Hawks’ last 535 games that they have produced a 40-point first quarter. Dennis Schroder provided 19 of his team’s first-quarter points, the most by any Atlanta player in the opening quarter since Joe Johnson scored 19 in a game against the Bulls on Jan. 13, 2008.

Jackson’s breathtaking 2nd-half run

Reggie Jackson went 10-for-10 from the floor in the second half, leading the Pistons to a 109-95 win over the visiting Bulls. Only one other NBA player over the last eight seasons took at least 10 shots in the second half of a game and made all of them—and that player was Andre Drummond, who did it for the Pistons in a win over the Magic last March 23.

The victory was historic by one measure. Chicago led, 26-14, at the end of the first quarter, and never before had the Pistons defeated the Bulls after having trailed by 12-or-more points at the end of the opening period.

Antetokounmpo rolls another 13

Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 24 points and established a quirky record in the Bucks’ 112-98 victory at Philadelphia. Giannis made seven of his 13 shots from the floor—and it’s that total of 13 shots that sent us into the archives, for it was the sixth consecutive game in which the guy with 13 letters in his last name had finished with exactly 13 field-goal attempts. No other player in the NBA’s shot-clock era has put together six consecutive games in which he took at least 10 shots in each game and finished with exactly the same total of field-goal attempts in each game.

Clippers big second half overcomes Jordan’s FT shooting

The Clippers scored 73 second-half points, including 41 in the fourth quarter, both season highs, to send the Celtics to a 116-102 defeat in Los Angeles. Blake Griffin (26 points) and Chris Paul (23) led the Clippers’ effort, which was enough to overcome DeAndre Jordan’s nightmarish free-throw shooting. Jordan made only three of 16 attempts from the line (18.8 percent), the lowest free-throw percentage in a game of at least 15 attempts for any NBA player in almost 27 years—since the Nets’ Chris Dudley made one of 18 free-throw attempts (5.6 percent) on April 14, 1990.

Kilpatrick: 5 field-goal attempts, 23 points

Sean Kilpatrick came off the bench to lead the Nets with 23 points as the visiting Brooklynites stunned the Grizzlies, 122-109. Kilpatrick finished the game with only five field-goal attempts, making three (including one three-pointer), and hit on 16 of his 17 free-throw attempts. All said, he finished with the most points by an NBA player in a game in which he took no more than five shots from the floor in nearly 14 years—since Steve Francis scored 23 points for the Rockets in a win over the Bulls on March 14, 2003, in a game in which he had just five field-goal attempts.

40th win for Jazz

The Jazz topped the Pelicans, 88-83, in Salt Lake City, and with that victory, Utah matched the total of 40 wins that it produced last season. The Jazz became the fourth NBA team to equal last season’s wins total, joining the Rockets and a couple of teams that won fewer than 20 games last season, the Lakers and the 76ers.

Chandler goes from 6 points to 36 in two nights

Wilson Chandler had scored just six points, making just one of eight shots from the floor, in the Nuggets’ previous game, a home loss to the Hornets on Saturday. But he didn’t stop until he had scored a career-high 36 points in Denver’s 108-96 victory over the Kings on Monday night. Only one other NBA player this season scored as many as 36 points in a game after he had scored six-or-fewer points in the previous game: Atlanta’s Paul Millsap did that, scoring 37 points on January 29 after he had scored four points two nights earlier.

Reality bites Pacers

In an alternate universe where free throws do not exist, the Pacers would have won their game in Charlotte on Monday night, 86-81. But in the real world, the Hornets made 19 of 21 free-throw attempts while the Pacers made 2 of 3—not a typo—and Charlotte went home 100-88 winners. Indiana’s total of free-throw attempts was the lowest for any team in any NBA game this season, and it was the lowest in any of the 3294 games in the team’s 41-year history in the NBA.

Knicks, down 11-0, win in Orlando

The Magic scored the first 11 points of Monday night’s contest against the Knicks, but New York got excellent work from its bench to secure a 113-105 victory. It marked the 21st time in the NBA this season that a team has scored the first 10 points of a game, and it was the fifth of those games in which the team that allowed those points has come back to win. The last time that the Knicks have won such a game came on Jan. 9, 2012, against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Thornton reaches 1000 assists

Joe Thornton became the 13th player in NHL history to reach the 1000-assist mark when he earned an assist on Joe Pavelski’s empty-net goal in the Sharks’ win over the Jets. Since the 1997-98 season, when Thornton made his NHL debut with the Bruins, only two players are within 350 assists of Thornton’s total: Jaromir Jagr (775) and Henrik Sedin (774).

Lehtonen stops Caps’ streak

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen brought the Capitals’ 15-game home winning streak to an end with a 4-2 victory at Verizon Center. Lehtonen has an 8-3-1 career record against the Capitals in Washington and he has won all five games that he has played in D.C. for Dallas. The only other current NHL goaltenders with at least eight road wins versus the Capitals are Marc-Andre Fleury (11-5-2), Roberto Luongo (9-6-1) and Ryan Miller (8-7-0).

Lehtonen made 42 saves in his win on Monday, after stopping 41 shots when he beat the Panthers on Saturday. He’s the first goaltender in Stars franchise history to win consecutive games in one season while making at least 40 saves in each game.

Which goaltender leads the Rangers in shutouts this season?

Antti Raanta wound up with 38 saves in his 1-0 overtime win against the Lightning in Tampa. Raanta owns a career record of 11-1-1 in games in which he faced at least 35 shots on goal, including a mark of 8-1-0 in such games during his two seasons with the Rangers.

Raanta’s shutout was his third this season, which makes him the Rangers’ team leader in that category, ahead of Henrik Lundqvist (two), even though Raanta has made 30 fewer starts this season than has Lundqvist (48-18). Lundqvist has finished every one of his 11 other seasons in the NHL as the Rangers’ shutout leader (including one season, 2014-15, when he was tied for the club lead with Cam Talbot). The Rangers’ last season without Lundqvist as one of their goaltenders was 2003-04, and their co-leaders in shutouts that season were Mike Dunham and Jussi Markkanen (two each).

Hoffman gets his 20th

Mike Hoffman’s 20th goal of the season was the game-winning goal for the Senators in their 4-2 victory over the Bruins. Hoffman led all NHL rookies with 27 goals in 2014-15 while teammate Mark Stone tied for second with 26 goals, and they have each scored at least 20 goals for the Senators in both seasons since then. Only one other pair of current NHL players scored 20 or more goals as rookie teammates and in at least each of the following two seasons: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They debuted together in 2007-08 and scored 20-plus goals for Chicago for nine consecutive seasons through 2015-16. Kane has reached the 20-goal mark once again this season and Toews is only three goals shy of his 10th straight 20-goal season.