Elias Says ...

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:


• The Mavericks made history on Tuesday night -- not just team history, not just NBA history, but major North American pro sports history. With their 102-89 victory over the Nets, the Mavericks became the first team in NBA history to earn 51 wins in a 56-game span within a single season.

No team in the NHL or in Major League Baseball has done such a thing, either. (And in the NFL, no team has ever amassed 51 wins over any multiple-season stretch of 56 regular-season games.)

• What makes the Spurs the Spurs? How about hitting four 3-point field goals in as many possessions in the closing stages of Tuesday night's game at Portland, turning a 92-85 deficit into a 99-94 victory, San Antonio's 10th in a row.

It was the first time in more than two years than an NBA team turned a deficit into a victory by hitting four 3-pointers in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or of an overtime period. The last time that it happened, the Spurs were the victims: Tracy McGrady hit four 3-pointers in the last 35 seconds of Houston's 81-80 victory on Dec. 9, 2004.

Mark Blount Blount

• Prior to this season, Mark Blount had played 434 regular-season NBA games and 22 more in the playoffs, and had never made a 3-point field goal. He had missed his lone attempt, launched while with the Celtics two seasons ago.

But this season, Blount caught a bit of the 3-point bug. Through his first 59 games, Blount made 5-of-19 from 3-point land. Still, that was no preparation for Tuesday night, when the 7-footer positively went Manute Bol on us, connecting for a trio of 3s -- each on an assist by Ricky Davis -- within 92 seconds to key Minnesota's fourth-quarter comeback. The Timberwolves went on to win 117-107 in double overtime.

Coming into the game, Minnesota had connected on only 65 fourth-quarter 3s this season, the lowest total by any NBA team.

Stephon Marbury Marbury

Stephon Marbury's missed free throw with nine-tenths of a second remaining overcame his total of 40 points as the Sonics took a 100-99 victory at Madison Square Garden. Marbury is the second NBA player this season to miss a potential game-tying free throw with less than one second left in the fourth quarter with the result being a one-point loss; Portland's Ime Udoka experienced a similar fate in a 103-102 home loss to Memphis on Feb. 23.

Prior to Udoka, the last two NBA players whose teams lost by a point following a free-throw miss with less than a second remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime were LeBron James (January 2006 at Denver) and Lamar Odom (April 2000 vs. Denver).

• The Wizards rolled to a 129-109 victory over the Raptors in a game in which they already had 101 points by the end of the third quarter. It was the 12th time this season that an NBA team had reached the century mark in the game's first 36 minutes -- but Washington was the first Eastern Conference team to turn that trick.


Jordan Staal Staal

Jordan Staal's short-handed goal spurred the Penguins' third-period comeback from a 4-1 deficit and Pittsburgh went on to a 5-4 shootout victory in Ottawa. Staal's goal was his seventh short-handed goal of the season -- the most by any rookie in NHL history. The old record of six was shared by Gerry Minor (with Vancouver in 1980-81) and John Madden (with the Devils in 1999-2000).

The last time that the Penguins earned a road win after overcoming a third-period deficit of three or more goals was on Oct. 15, 1991, when they overcame a 6-2 Islanders' lead to take a 7-6 decision in overtime on Long Island. (Mario Lemieux had two goals during that comeback, while Mark Recchi, Jaromir Jagr and Phil Bourque added the others.)

Ottawa had won the last 40 home games in which it held a lead of three or more goals at any point.

• The Flyers defeated the Devils 5-4 on Simon Gagne's overtime goal. New Jersey had won the last eight games between the teams. Gagne's overtime winner was his 13th goal in 33 regular-season games against Martin Brodeur. The 13 goals are the most that Gagne has scored against any NHL goaltender.

It's understandable if you haven't noticed -- the Flyers' status as the NHL team with the fewest points does not seem in immediate jeopardy -- but Philadelphia has experienced a scoring surge this month. The Flyers had averaged 2.38 goals per game over their first 50 games, the lowest average in the league from the start of the season through the end of January. But since the start of the shortest month, they have averaged 3.63 goals per game, one of the five highest averages in the league.

• The Devils and Flyers each scored four goals and had 41 shots on goal through the first 60 minutes of their game. It was the first NHL game this season in which each team had at least 40 shots on goal in regulation time, and it was the first such game involving New Jersey since Jan. 17, 1989, when the Devils outshot Quebec 41-40 but lost 7-4.

Ilya Kovalchuk Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winning goal and added two assists in the Thrashers' 4-2 victory over Florida. Kovalchuk leads all NHL players in both goals (17) and points (37) against the Panthers during his five seasons in the NHL (2001-02 to present). He's scored at least one goal in each of his last five games against Florida.

Kari Lehtonen stopped all but two of Florida's 40 shots on goal on Tuesday night, and is now 6-0-1 in the seven games in which he faced at least 40 shots on goal in his short NHL career. The first of those seven games took place exactly one year before the seventh, against the same team in the same arena: March 6, 2006 versus Florida at Philips Arena.

• Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin posted the 36th regular-season shutout of his NHL career -- but his first in his last 109 starts -- when the Blackhawks beat the Kings 3-0 on Tuesday night. It was Khabibulin's sixth shutout versus the Kings, twice as many as he has against any other NHL team.

• San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov shut out the Stars in Dallas on Sunday and he blanked the Wild 3-0 in St. Paul on Tuesday night. Nabokov is the third NHL goaltender to post consecutive road shutouts this season. The others were Columbus' Fredrik Norrena (Dec. 2 at Edmonton, Dec. 5 at Colorado) and Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson (Dec. 4 at Vancouver, Dec. 8 at Dallas).


Thomas Jones Jones

• The Jets traded for Thomas Jones, who led the Bears with 1,210 rushing yards last season. When he plays his first game for Gang Green in September, Jones will become the first player to have gained 1,000 rushing yards for a Super Bowl team and then start the following season in a different uniform.

The highest rushing-yardage total to date by players who left a Super Bowl team and joined a new club to start the next season: Ricky Watters, 877 for the 49ers in 1994. (Watters move on to play for the Eagles in 1995.)

• The Jets acquired Jones a day after the Broncos reached an agreement with Travis Henry, who had been released by the Titans. It's hard to imagine two players with more similar rushing statistics than Jones and Henry -- both for their careers and most recent season:

Career Rushing 2006 Rushing
Player Starts Att. Yards Avg. TD Att. Yards Avg. TD
Thomas Jones 63 1349 5384 4.0 34 296 1210 4.1 6
Travis Henry 62 1321 5395 4.1 34 270 1211 4.5 7