Elias Says: March 10, 2017

Westbrook collects first triple-double vs. Spurs

Russell Westbrook led all players with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists in the Thunder’s 102–92 home win over the Spurs. It was Westbrook’s first career triple-double against San Antonio. Entering Thursday, he’d faced the Spurs 28 times in the regular season and another 18 in the playoffs. Against all other teams, Westbrook has 67 triple-doubles in 623 regular-season games, and five more in 64 playoff contests.

Westbrook’s triple-double was the fourth against San Antonio in 2016–17 – James Harden has two and Ricky Rubio has one. That’s the highest total against the Spurs in any of Gregg Popovich’s 21 seasons as the team’s head coach.

Gasol has big first half off the bench

Pau Gasol, who did not start, scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds in the first half of the Spurs loss at Oklahoma City. No San Antonio bench player had registered at least 15 points and five rebounds in the first half of a game since Devin Brown (15 pts, 6 reb), against the Nets on March 8, 2005.

Another big game for Drummond vs. defending champs

Andre Drummond scored 20 points, making 10 of 13 shots from the floor (76.9%), and grabbed 16 rebounds in the Pistons’ 106–101 win over the visiting Cavaliers. Who was the last NBA player to post at least 20 points and 15 boards while making at least 75% of his field-goal attempts against the defending NBA champions? It was Drummond himself, in Detroit’s win at San Antonio on Jan. 6, 2015 (20 pts, 17 reb, 8/10 FG.)

Rookie Saric scores 25 for the second time

Dario Saric scored a career-high 28 points in the 76ers’ overtime loss at Portland Thursday. It was Saric’s second game with at least 25 points – he scored 26 against the Magic exactly one month earlier. The only other NBA rookie who has scored 25+ points in a game more than once this season is Saric’s injured teammate, Joel Embiid, who’s done so nine times.

The 76ers franchise is in its 68th season in the NBA, but 2016–17 is the first of those in which it’s had multiple rookies score at least 25 points in a game more than once. The last NBA rookie teammates to do that were the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins (14 25-point games) and Zach LaVine (3) in 2014–15.

Nurkic pulls down 20

Jusuf Nurkic set career highs with 28 points and 20 rebounds in the Trail Blazers’ 114–108 overtime win over the 76ers. At age 22, Nurkic is the youngest Portland player to collect at least 20 rebounds in a game since Greg Oden grabbed 20 at age 21 against Miami on Dec. 1, 2009.

Clippers bench plays big role in road win

Austin Rivers came off the bench to score 20 points and grab five rebounds in the Clippers’ 114–98 win at Memphis. Los Angeles’s substitutes combined for 61 points, 18 rebounds, and a .571 field-goal percentage. The last time the Clippers bench reached all three of those levels in one game was on Nov. 19, 1997 (80 pts, 24 reb, .627 FG%.) Lamond Murray didn’t start but led the team with 32 points in that game (making 14 of 18 field goals), a loss at Miami.

Toronto’s rookies make more history

Mitch Marner’s power play goal in the third period was the game-winner for the Maple Leafs in their 4–2 victory over the Flyers. Marner has scored five game-winning goals this season, which ties him with the Jets’ Patrik Laine for second-most in the NHL among rookies, behind Marner’s teammate, Auston Matthews, who has tallied six game-winners. Matthews and Marner are the first pair of rookie teammates to each score at least five game-winning goals in the same season since Bill Flett (6) and Howie Menard (5) did so for the Kings in 1967–68 (L.A.’s first season in the NHL.)

Aho scores number 20

Hurricanes rookie Sebastian Aho scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season in Carolina’s 4–3 win over the Rangers. The 19-year-old Aho is the third teenager to score at least 20 goals in the NHL this season, after Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. This is the first NHL season in which three teenagers produced 20-goal seasons since 2009–10, when Steven Stamkos, Matt Duchene and John Tavares all did so. Aho is the fifth teenager to score 20 or more goals in one season for the Hartford/Carolina franchise. The others were the Whalers’ Ron Francis (1981–82 and 1982–83), Sylvain Turgeon (1983–84) and Patrick Poulin (1992–93), and the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner (2010–11 and 2011–12).

Aho scored both of his goals on Hurricanes power plays in the third period, turning a 3–2 deficit for Carolina into a 4–3 lead (and victory). He’s the second rookie to score two power play goals in one game for the Hurricanes since the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997. Skinner scored a pair of power play goals in a game at New Jersey in February 2011.

Bernier busy in shutout

Jonathan Bernier set a season high for saves by an NHL goaltender in a shutout by stopping all 43 of the Blackhawks’ shots on goal in a 1–0 win for the Ducks in Chicago. (The previous high was 42 saves.) Bernier’s 43 saves are third-most ever by a Ducks goaltender in a shutout. He fell two saves shy of the club record of 45 saves set by Dominic Roussel in his 1–0 victory at Colorado on Dec. 22, 1998 and tied by Jonas Hiller in a 3–0 win at Boston on Dec. 20, 2010.

Ladd returns home to score OT winner

Maple Ridge, B.C. native Andrew Ladd’s overtime goal gave the Islanders a 4–3 road win over the Canucks. The last visiting British Columbia-born player to score an overtime goal in Vancouver also did so for the Islanders. That was Ray Ferraro on Feb. 6, 1992 (Ferraro was born in Trail.)

Karlsson scores two goals, one in OT

Erik Karlsson’s second goal of the game was the overtime winner for the Ottawa Senators in their 3–2 victory at Arizona. This was Karlsson’s first two-goal game of the season and the 10th multiple-goal game of his NHL career. He’s tied with Mike Green and Shea Weber for the most multi-goal games as a defenseman since 2009–10, which was Karlsson’s first season in the NHL.

Veteran defenseman Beauchemin wins it in OT for Colorado

Francois Beauchemin’s tiebreaking goal with 1:14 left to play in the third period earned the Avalanche a 3–2 victory over the Devils. Beauchemin’s game-winning goal was his first this season and the 14th in his 13-season NHL career. At age 36 years, 278 days, he’s the second-oldest defenseman ever to score a game-winning goal in regular-season play for the Quebec/Colorado franchise. Adam Foote was 37 years old when he scored the decisive goal in the Avs’ win at Washington on Feb. 20, 2009.

Kucherov reaches 30 goals for the second time

Nikita Kucherov reached the 30-goal mark for the second time in his NHL career when he scored the second of his two goals in Tampa Bay’s 4–1 win against Minnesota. Kucherov scored 30 goals for the Lightning last season (his third in the NHL), after tallying 29 goals for Tampa Bay in 2014–15. At age 23, he’s the third player to rack up at least two 30-goal seasons for the Lightning before turning 24 years old. Steven Stamkos had three such seasons for Tampa Bay while he was 23 or younger and Vincent Lecavalier had two.

Gaudreau breaks out at home

Johnny Gaudreau tied his career high for points in one game when he tallied one goal and three assists to lead the Flames to a 5–0 win over the Canadiens in Calgary. Gaudreau produced as many points in this game as he did in his past 12 home games combined (no goals and four assists.) He tied the record for most points by a Flames player in a game against the Canadiens, done six times before but only one other time since 1991. That was on Dec. 31, 2000, when Valeri Bure scored two goals and assisted on two in a 5–4 overtime victory by the Flames.