Elias Says: Dec. 13, 2017

LeBron assists aplenty in win over Atlanta

LeBron James scored 25 points and matched a career-best by distributing 17 assists in leading the Cavaliers to victory over the Hawks. Including Tuesday’s effort, James has notched at least 20 points and 10 assists in his last four games versus Atlanta, tying his longest such streak versus any team (he also had four straight games of that kind versus the Timberwolves). James’s current stretch of 20-point/10-assist games against the Hawks is tied for the longest by any player since the Hawks franchise relocated to Atlanta for the 1968–69 season. Jerry West, Nate Archibald, and Kevin Johnson also compiled four-game streaks of that kind against Atlanta. Oscar Robertson had several 20-point/10-assist streaks of at least four games versus the St. Louis Hawks, including an eight-game streak in the 1966–67 season alone!

Speaking of Robertson, he was the only player before James on Tuesday to compile at least 25 points and 17 assists in a game with a field goal percentage of 84 percent or better (James went 11-for-13 from the floor, good for 84.6%). Forty-nine years ago this week, on Dec. 15, 1968, Robertson led the Cincinnati Royals to a 119–101 win over the Suns (then a first-year expansion team), finishing the game with 26 points and 17 assists while shooting 88.9 percent from the floor (8-of-9).

KP leads Knicks

Two free throws by Kristaps Porzingis in the final second of overtime iced the Knicks’ 113–109 victory over the Lakers. The 22-year-old Porzingis finished with 37 points, marking his 10th game with 30 or more points this season. There have been 17 other Knicks players to compile 10 or more 30-point games in a single season, but only one of them did so before his 23rd birthday. Bill Cartwright produced a dozen 30-point games at age 22 for New York in the 1979–80 season.

Embiid comes up big for 76ers

Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 28 points and 12 rebounds while also registering a career-high eight assists in Philadelphia’s overtime win over the Timberwolves. Embiid is the third 76ers player in the last 25 seasons to produce at least 25 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in a game. The others to do so in that span were Chris Webber, who recorded 30 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists versus the Wizards in 2006, and Michael Carter-Williams, who compiled 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Magic in 2013.

King Crabbe

Allen Crabbe missed 11 of 14 three-point attempts for the Nets against the Wizards on Tuesday, tying a franchise record for most unsuccessful threes in a game, but his final shot from behind the arc was true, giving Brooklyn the lead for good in the final minute of regulation. Crabbe is the second player this season to hit a go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute of the fourth quarter after having missed at least 11 threes earlier in the game. The Rockets’ Eric Gordon went 5-for-16 from long range on October 25 at Philadelphia, including a buzzer-beating three-point goal to give Houston a one-point win. No other player in the previous 20 seasons accomplished that feat in a game his team went on to win.

Double-dozen for Powell

Dwight Powell scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds off the bench, helping the Mavericks upset the Spurs in Kawhi Leonard’s return to the lineup. Powell’s 12/12 statline was fitting for a game played on December 12, but it was less common for a player with only 17:22 of time on the court. Only two players all of last season produced at least 12 points and 12 rebounds in a game with fewer than 20 minutes played: David Lee (15 points, 12 rebounds, 17:31) on Nov. 25, 2016 and Aron Baynes (13 points, 17 rebounds, 17:53) on March 19, 2017. Powell is the first player to do so for the Mavericks.

Woes continue for Pistons

The Pistons dropped their seventh straight game on Tuesday, falling to the Nuggets, 103–84. Detroit is now one game over .500 after going 14–6 in their first 20 games of the season. Only one other team in the last 10 seasons opened a season 14–6 or better and suffered a losing streak of seven or more games later in the season. The Jazz opened the 2010–11 campaign by winning 15 of its first 20 games, but Utah faltered down the stretch, losing eight straight games spanning March and April to fall out of the playoff chase.

McDavid notches four points in Oilers’ rout

Connor McDavid tallied one goal and three assists in the Oilers’ 7–2 win against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. The 20-year-old McDavid is only the third Oilers player in the last 35 years to record as many as four points in a road game before his 21st birthday. The other Edmonton youngsters with four-point performances on the road since 1982 were Sam Gagner (March 19, 2009 at Colorado, age 19) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (April 3, 2013 at Calgary, age 19).

Lightning goalie is first to 20 wins

Andrei Vasilevskiy became the first NHL goaltender to record 20 wins this season with a 3–0 victory against the Blues in St. Louis. Vasilevskiy is the first Lightning goaltender ever to be the first netminder in the league to reach the 20-win mark in a season. He’s the first NHL goaltender to get to the 20-win plateau in a season by December 12 since Martin Brodeur notched his 20th victory on that date in 2009–10.

Kane produces 50th game-winner

The Blackhawks have their first three-game winning streak this season thanks to Patrick Kane, whose overtime goal on Tuesday gave Chicago a 3–2 victory over the Panthers. It was Kane’s first game-winning goal this season and the 50th game-winner of his NHL career. The Buffalo, New York native is the fourth active U.S.-born NHL player with 50 or more game-winning goals. The others are Zach Parise (60), Joe Pavelski (54) and Phil Kessel (51).

Hall lights lamp twice in New Jersey

Taylor Hall scored two goals as the Devils ended the Kings’ eight-game winning streak (the longest in the NHL this season) with a 5–1 victory in Newark. Hall has produced six multiple-goal games in his two seasons with the Devils and five of them have come on home ice. All other Devils players combined have recorded only five multi-goal games at Prudential Center over the last two seasons and no one but Hall has more than one.

Sabres find formula for victory

The Sabres took a 3–0 lead in their game against the Senators on second-period goals by Benoit Pouliot, Kyle Okposo and Evander Kane and then held on to record a 3–2 win over Ottawa. Pouliot’s opening goal was a good omen for Buffalo. The Sabres have the second-worst record in the NHL this season, but they’re 6–0–1 in the seven games in which Pouliot scored a goal and 2–17–5 when he’s been held goalless.

Stalock stars off bench

Minnesota’s backup goaltender, Alex Stalock, replaced injured starter Devan Dubnyk to begin the second period and he earned first-star honors as he recorded a 2–1 shootout victory against the Flames on Tuesday. Stalock is the first NHL goaltender to register a shootout win this season as a substitute. Three goaltenders did that last season: the Flyers’ Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, and the Red Wings’ Petr Mrazek. Stalock is the first Wild goaltender with a shootout win off the bench since Nov. 13, 2013, when Josh Harding beat the Maple Leafs, 2–1.

Comeback win for Flyers

The Flyers trailed, 2–1, at the end of the second period in their game against the Maple Leafs, but third-period goals by Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Scott Laughton (an empty-netter) earned Philadelphia a 4–2 victory over Toronto. Only twice before over the last two seasons had the Flyers won a game in regulation time after trailing in the third period and they did that in consecutive games just over a year ago: Dec. 8 and 10, 2016, in wins against the Oilers (6–5) and Stars (4–2).

Kuznetsov in a helping mood

Evgeny Kuznetsov assisted on three of the Capitals’ five goals in their victory over the Avalanche on Tuesday. Kuznetsov tallied three assists in Washington’s opening game this season (Oct. 5 at Ottawa) and he racked up four assists two nights later (Oct. 7 vs. Montreal), but this was his first game with three or more assists since then. Despite his two-month drought, only two NHL players have produced more three-assist games this season that Kuznetsov’s three: Blake Wheeler (five) and Jakub Voracek (four).