Elias Says: November 29, 2017

James all over stat sheet before first NBA ejection, Love dominates in first half

LeBron James scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out six assists, and had five steals while playing just over 28 minutes (he was ejected in the third quarter, a first for him in his NBA career) in the Cavaliers’ 108-97 victory over the Heat on Tuesday. Since the 1973-74 season, when steals were officially compiled, only four other players had at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and five steals while playing less than 30 minutes in a game: Fat Lever (Nuggets vs. Nets in November 1987), Mark Aguirre (Mavs vs. Nuggets in December 1987), Michael Jordan (Bulls vs. Suns in March 1990), and Kenny Battle (Suns vs. Nuggets in November 1990). As was the case with James on Tuesday, all four did so in home wins.

The Cavaliers jumped out to a 26-point lead at the half, with Kevin Love leading the charge, totaling 32 points and eight rebounds in the first half. The last player with at least 30 points and eight rebounds in the opening half of a game was the Warriors’ Antawn Jamison on December 3, 2000 at Seattle (31 points and 11 rebounds in the first half). Jamison finished that game with 51 points and 14 rebounds. In his next game, on December 6, Jamison nearly topped that performance, with 51 points and 13 rebounds in a Golden State overtime win over the Lakers.

Towns scores 4000th point, joins elite company

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 20 points and 17 rebounds in the team’s 92-89 loss to the Wizards. In the loss, Towns reached 4000 points in his 185th game in the NBA, and that is after he hit the 2000-rebound mark in his 177th game. Among players to debut in the last 40 years, only four others had at least 4000 points and 2000 rebounds through their first 185 (or fewer games) of their NBA careers: Hakeem Olajuwon (181st game in January 1987), David Robinson (160th game in April 1991), Shaquille O’Neal (154th game in April 1994), and Tim Duncan (181st game in February 2000).

Booker puts up the points

Devin Booker put up 33 points and hit five three-point field goals in the Suns’ victory over the Bulls. Booker has scored 30-or-more points in 28 of his 175 games in the NBA. Only four other active players had that many 30-point games over the first 175 games of their careers: LeBron James (49 such games), Vince Carter (46), Kevin Durant (37), and Dwyane Wade (35).

Bucks coast against Kings

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and the Bucks cruised by the Kings in Sacramento by a 112-87 final score. That is the second largest margin of victory for the Bucks against the Kings in Sacramento. They won by 34 points on November 21, 1985 in the Kings’ first season in Sacramento after moving from Kansas City. Since that game, Milwaukee had only three other road wins by at least 25 points versus a Western Conference opponent (in 2001 at Golden State, 2012 at Portland, and earlier this year at Phoenix).

Struggles continue for Nuggets in Utah

Derrick Favors (24 points) and company had no problem handling the Nuggets, as the Jazz downed Denver, 106-77, in Salt Lake City. Utah has won each of its last seven home games versus the Nuggets, the third-longest current home winning streak for the team over a particular opponent. The Jazz have won each of their last 16 home games against the Bucks, and they have won their last 10 versus the Hornets. Denver has scored 86.7 points per game over those seven games in Utah, while shooting just 38.4 percent from the floor.

Forsberg at home in the Music City

Filip Forsberg scored the first goal in the Predators’ 3–2 victory over the Blackhawks in Nashville. Forsberg has tallied nine goals and eight assists in the Predators’ 11 games at Bridgestone Arena this season, with at least one point in each game. He is the only NHL player with points in every one of his team’s home games this season. This is the longest start-of-season home-game point streak by an NHL player since Patrick Kane recorded points in each of the Blackhawks’ first 16 home games in 2015–16.

Familiar story for Stars as another player gets a hat trick

Radek Faksa scored three goals, all in the second period, as the Stars triumphed over the Golden Knights, 3-0. In their last game, on November 24 against the Flames, Tyler Seguin scored three goals in a 6-4 win. The last time the Stars had a hat trick in two straight games was on March 17 and 19 in 1986, when the team was located in Minnesota. Dino Ciccarelli scored three goals in a 6-5 win over the Blues on March 17, and Scott Bjugstad scored three of his own on March 19 at Calgary, in a win by that same score.

Another day, another Lightning win

Andrei Vasilevskiy improved his record to 16–3–1 in 20 games this season with a 34-save shutout victory for the Lightning against the Sabres in Buffalo. He is the first goaltender in Tampa Bay franchise history to win at least 16 of his first 20 games in one season. Four other netminders currently in the NHL racked up at least 16 victories in their first 20 games of one season: Pekka Rinne (16–3–1), Ryan Miller (16–4–0) in 2014–15, Braden Holtby (16–4–0) in 2015–16, and Carey Price (16–3–1) last season.

Eberle hits 400-point mark

Jordan Eberle scored the game-winning goal for the Islanders in their 5–2 victory over the Canucks. Eberle’s goal was also the 400th point of his eight-season NHL career. He is only the third player with 400 or more points to have made his NHL debut in the 2010–11 season or later. The others are Tyler Seguin (450 points) and Eberle’s former teammate in Edmonton, Taylor Hall (407 points). Seguin and Hall also debuted in the 2010–11 season.

Kadri extinguishes Flames

Nazem Kadri scored his 12th goal of the season in the Maple Leafs’ 4–1 win at Calgary, tying Auston Matthews and James van Riemsdyk for the team lead. Toronto is the only NHL team with three players who have scored at least 12 goals this season. Kadri has recorded at least one point in each of the Maple Leafs’ last eight wins and in 14 of their 16 victories this season.

Kopitar is a road warrior

Anze Kopitar tallied a pair of goals in the Kings’ 4–1 win against the Red Wings in Detroit. It was Kopitar’s third multiple-goal game this season, all of which have come on the road. (He scored twice at San Jose on Oct. 7 and at Columbus on Oct. 21.) That ties him with the Capitals’ T.J. Oshie for the most multi-goal road games in the NHL this season. Kopitar has scored 12 goals in 25 games this season, matching his goal total for the entire 2016–17 season when he played in 76 of the Kings’ 82 games.

Tough stretch for Flyers

Joe Thornton put the Sharks ahead for good and handed the Flyers’ their ninth straight loss on Tuesday night. Philadelphia’s nine-game winless streak is tied for the third longest in the NHL over the last three seasons; only the Coyotes (11 straight games this season) and Devils (10 game stretch last season) had longer single-season winless streaks over that span.

Late goal wins it for Panthers

Denis Malgin’s first NHL goal this season snapped a 4–4 tie with 1:09 remaining in the third period and enabled the Panthers to leave Madison Square Garden with a 5–4 victory over the Rangers after squandering a 4–1 lead. This was only the fourth time in the last six seasons that a Panthers player scored a go-ahead goal in the final two minutes of the third period. Florida’s three other such goals since 2012–13 were all tiebreakers in the last 30 seconds of regulation time: by Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov in 2015–16, and Vincent Trocheck last season (Feb. 20 at St. Louis, 19:55 of third period).

Solid month for Jackets’ d-man

Zach Werenski scored one goal and assisted on another for the Blue Jackets in their 3–2 shootout win against the Hurricanes. The 20-year-old defenseman has scored four goals this November, setting a new monthly high for his two seasons in the NHL. Werenski is only the second Columbus defenseman to score as many as four goals in one calendar month over the last three seasons, joining Seth Jones, who scored four times for the Blue Jackets in December 2016.