Ryan and Brees meet again
The Falcons and Saints played on Thursday night and for the 15th consecutive game between these teams the starting quarterbacks were Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. That is the longest current streak of its kind for any pair of NFL teams. The second-longest current streak is 14 games, involving Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) and Andy Dalton (Bengals). The last pair of quarterbacks to start for their respective teams in each of 15 or more consecutive meetings was Joe Theismann and Ron Jaworski. Both of those quarterbacks started each of 16 consecutive meetings between the Redskins and Eagles from 1977 to 1984.
Not your usual Ryan/Brees matchup
The Falcons beat the Saints on Thursday night but it was not the classic shootout between Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. Ryan threw for 271 yards and Brees for 221 in the game. It was the 18th game between Ryan and Brees but only the second in which neither one threw for 300 or more yards. The other such game was on November 21, 2013, a 17-13 Saints win in Atlanta. Ryan had 292 yards passing in that game, Brees had 278.
Ryan picked off in three straight drives
The Saints ended three consecutive Falcons drives by intercepting passes thrown by Matt Ryan on Thursday night. Marshon Lattimore, Chris Banjo and Marcus Williams were the interceptors. It was the second time in his NFL career that Ryan threw an interception to end three consecutive drives within one game. Ryan threw a pick on three straight drives against the Cardinals on October 27, 2013: Daryl Washington, Rashad Johnson and Tyrann Mathieu.
Simmons joins legends
Ben Simmons recorded a triple-dozen on Thursday night, scoring 12 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and handing out 15 assists. Simmons is the second rookie this season to record a triple-dozen, joining Lonzo Ball, who accomplished it on November 11 at Milwaukee. This is the first time in the last 50 seasons that two rookies have achieved a triple-dozen in the same season. The last time it happened was in the 1967-68 season, when the rookies who did it were Art (Hambone) Williams of the San Diego Rockets and future Hall-of-Famer Walt (Clyde) Frazier of the Knicks.
Simmons is the fifth rookie to record a triple-double against the Lakers. Of the other four, three are in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the other will be when he becomes eligible. Oscar Robertson had four triple-doubles for the Royals against the Lakers in 1960-61, Tom Gola had two for the Warriors in 1955-56, David Robinson did it for the Spurs in 1989-90 and Jason Kidd for the Mavericks in 1994-95.
Simmons is the eighth rookie in NBA history to record a triple-double with 15 assists. The others were Oscar Robertson (three times), Michael Jordan (twice), Tom Gola, Walt Frazier, Tim Hardaway, Jamaal Tinsley and Chris Paul.
Beal carrying Wizards
Bradley Beal is making up for the absence of John Wall. Beal scored 34 points on 13-for-22 shooting from the field in the Wizards’ win over the Suns on Thursday night. That followed a 51-point, 21-for-37 performance against the Trail Blazers in his previous game. Beal has scored 85 points and made over 57 percent of his shots from the field (34-for-59) over his last two games. Only three other players in Wizards franchise history scored 85 or more points with that high a field-goal percentage over a two-game span: Walt Bellamy in January 1962 (90 points, .740 field-goal percentage), Bernard King in 1990-91 (98, .627) and Gilbert Arenas in December 2006 (85, .600).
Harden leading Rockets in the road
James Harden scored 29 points in the Rockets’ victory in Utah on Thursday night, improving the team’s record to 11-1 on the road. Harden has scored 356 points and handed out 113 assists in twelve road games this season. Only three other players in NBA history scored 350 or more points and handed out at least 100 assists in their first twelve road games of a season: Oscar Robertson did it three times, Nate Archibald in 1972-73 and Russell Westbrook last season.
LeVert leads Nets in Mexico City
Caris LeVert came off the bench and led the Nets in points (21) and assists (10) in their win over the Thunder in a game played in Mexico City. LeVert is the first Nets player to score at least 20 points and hand out at least 10 assists in a game he did not start since Terrence Williams did it in a double-overtime game versus the Bulls in 2010. The last Nets player with such a game that did not go to overtime was Robert Pack against the Knicks in 1996.
Hunwick rescues Penguins
Matt Hunwick’s first overtime goal in the NHL enabled the Penguins to salvage a 4–3 win against the Islanders after Pittsburgh squandered a two-goal lead in the final five minutes of the third period. Hunwick is only the second defenseman other than Kris Letang to score an overtime goal for the Penguins over the last seven seasons, joining Simon Despres, who scored an OT winner for Pittsburgh on Jan. 30, 2015 at New Jersey. Letang has scored three overtime goals for the Pens since the 2011–12 season.
Backes carries Bruins
David Backes scored his first two goals of the season for the Bruins in their 6–1 win over the Coyotes in Boston. It was the first multiple-goal game by a Bruins player since November 4, when David Pastrnak scored both Boston goals in a 3–2 loss to the Capitals. It’s interesting to note that all six multi-goal games by Bruins players this season have come on home ice (two by Pastrnak, and one each by Anders Bjork, Brad Marchand, Danton Heinen and Backes).
OT goal #9 for Monahan
Sean Monahan’s second goal of the game was the overtime winner for the Flames in their 3–2 victory at Montreal. Monahan has scored nine overtime goals during his five seasons in the NHL, the most by any player over that span. Jeff Carter, Alex Ovechkin and Max Pacioretty have each scored eight overtime goals since 2013–14.
Stamkos back on top
Steven Stamkos, who entered play having tallied only one goal and two assists in his last eight games, matched that eight-game output with a goal and two assists in the Lightning’s 5–2 win against the Avalanche. Stamkos’ three-point performance moved him past teammate Nikita Kucherov (who was held pointless in Thursday’s game) and back into the league lead in scoring with 41 points (to Kucherov’s 40). Stamkos held sole possession of the top spot in the race for the Art Ross Trophy for 44 consecutive days, from October 19 through December 1, until Kucherov passed him on December 2 and held the lead for five days.
Huberdeau the helper
Jonathan Huberdeau assisted on three of the Panthers’ six goals in their victory against the Jets on Thursday. The assists were the 149th, 150th and 151st in the career of the player Florida selected with the third overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. Huberdeau is the sixth player from his draft class to record at least 150 assists in the NHL. The others are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Mark Scheifele, Johnny Gaudreau and Ondrej Palat.
Shutout for Allen
It took him 23 starts to do so, but Blues goaltender Jake Allen finally notched his first shutout of the season with a 29-save 3–0 win against the Stars on Thursday. Allen needed no more than eight starts to register his first shutout in any of his previous four seasons in the NHL. Allen’s shutout was his 16th for St. Louis, which ties him with Hall of Famer Glenn Hall for third-most in team history, behind Brian Elliott (25) and Jaroslav Halak (20).