Elias Says: Dec. 19, 2017

Another big Monday Night for Freeman

Devonta Freeman led the Falcons with 126 rushing yards and 68 receiving yards in their 24–21 victory over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Freeman’s 194 yards from scrimmage nearly equaled his last effort on Monday Night Football – he totaled 207 yards from scrimmage in Atlanta’s win at New Orleans on September 26 of last year. Only two other players in the history of Monday Night Football produced at least 190 yards from scrimmage in consecutive appearances on the program. And those two players happen to own the lifetime records for receiving yards and rushing yards, respectively. Jerry Rice had back-to-back Monday Night appearances with 190 yards from scrimmage in 1985 and 1986, as did Emmitt Smith in 1993 and 1994.

Falcons finally fail to score versus Bucs in 3rd

The Falcons never trailed in their victory over the Bucs, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter, building their lead to 17–7 before halftime, then scoring their final points on Freeman’s 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Atlanta’s scoreless third period on Monday marked the first time since December 2015 that the Falcons failed to score in a quarter against the Buccaneers. The Falcons’ streak of 17 consecutive quarters with at least one point versus the Bucs tied Atlanta’s longest such streak against a single opponent in franchise history. The Falcons also scored in 17 consecutive quarters versus the Cardinals from 1995 to 2004.

Rockets explode in fourth to keep win streak alive

The Rockets’ win streak looked to be in trouble on Monday with the Jazz holding a five-point advantage to start the fourth quarter. Houston woke up in the final 12 minutes, outscoring Utah 41 to 15 to close out a 120–99 victory and extend the team’s winning streak to 14 games. Only one other team in the last eight seasons finished a game with a 20-point margin of victory after trailing to begin the fourth quarter. The Raptors celebrated Boxing Day (December 26) in 2015 with a 21-point victory at Milwaukee despite being outscored by three points through three quarters.

Capela posting huge numbers for Houston

Clint Capela scored 24 points and secured 20 rebounds against the Jazz to notch the first 20–20 game of his NBA career. At age 23, Capela is the second-youngest player in the last 30 seasons to produce a 20-point/20-rebound game for the Rockets. Yao Ming was a younger 23 than Capela when he scored 22 points and secured 20 rebounds on Dec. 6, 2003 versus the Pistons.

Over his last five games, Capela has made 40 of 47 field-goal attempts for an incredible field-goal percentage of 85.1 percent. Capela is the first player in 50 years to make at least 40 field goals over a five-game span while compiling a field-goal percentage of 85 percent or better. Wilt Chamberlain was the last player to do that, shooting 54-of-62 (87.1%) over a five-game span in February/March 1967.

Westbrook’s shots beginning to fall more frequently

Russell Westbrook scored 16 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Thunder climb out of a 10-point hole and squeak by the Nuggets, 95–94. Many players have scored more than 15 points in the fourth quarter of a game this season, including Westbrook himself on November 29, but only one player prior to Monday did so in a game his team won by one point. On October 26, Blake Griffin capped a 16-point fourth quarter with a three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the Clippers’ 104–103 win over the Blazers in Portland.

Celtics steal a win in Indiana

A twice-tipped pass in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter ended up in the hands of Terry Rozier, who streaked down the court and scored with less than two seconds remaining, turning a one-point deficit into a one-point win for the Celtics at Indiana. Rozier, who scored nine points in just over 23 minutes off the bench on Monday, became the third Celtics player in the last 10 seasons to come off the bench and hit a game-winning field goal in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. Jeff Green also achieved that feat for Boston at Indiana on March 6, 2013. The other Celtics player to do so in that span was Jae Crowder, who beat the Raptors with a last-second shot on April 14, 2015 in Boston.

Durant lifts Warriors in overtime

Kevin Durant scored 12 of the Warriors’ 14 points in overtime at Staples Center, helping Golden State defeat the Lakers. The only other player to score at least a dozen points in an overtime period this season is Durant’s teammate Stephen Curry, who also did the deed in a road win over the Lakers. Curry racked up 13 points in extra time at Los Angeles on November 29.

With Monday’s win, the Warriors became the first team since the Raptors in 2003–04 to record multiple road overtime wins against a particular opponent in a single season. Toronto notched two overtime wins at New Orleans that season.

Same old story for Spurs versus Clippers

The Spurs handled the Clippers on Monday night, which was not a huge surprise given their head-to-head history. San Antonio is now 126–39 (.764) versus the Clippers since joining the NBA in the 1976–77 season. The only team with a better won-lost percentage versus a particular opponent since the start of 1976–77 is none other than… the Spurs! San Antonio posted a slightly higher winning percentage against the Nets (68–21, .7640) during that time than against the Clippers (.7636).

Bulls bench keying Chicago’s turnaround

Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis put up big numbers off the bench for the Bulls, helping Chicago defeat the 76ers and post its sixth consecutive win. Mirotic tied for the team lead with 22 points while leading all players with 13 rebounds, and Portis chipped in 12 points and 10 boards. Mirotic and Portis are the first pair of teammates to produce a double-double off the bench in the same game this season. Four duos did so last season, most recently Trevor Booker and Sean Kilpatrick for the Nets on February 25. The last such occurrence for the Bulls took place in 2013, with Taj Gibson and Nate Robinson doing the deed, but Robinson’s double-digit categories were points and assists, not rebounds. The last time two Bulls players totaled at least 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in the same game was all the way back on Feb. 25, 1973. Gar Heard and Clifford Ray achieved that feat for Chicago in a road win at Seattle.

Small pack of Wolves score enough to beat Blazers

Jimmy Butler led the Timberwolves with 37 points in their one-point victory over the Blazers. Butler was one of just six players to score a point for Minnesota on Monday, with Jamal Crawford (23 points) the only sub to do so. The Rockets also managed to win in that fashion on Monday night, defeating the Jazz with only six players handling the scoring for Houston. No other team this season has won a game in which no more than six players recorded a point, and only one team all of last season – the Nuggets on April 12 at Oklahoma City – produced a win of that kind.

Howard looking good for Hornets

Dwight Howard notched his 17th double-double of the season in the Hornets’ 109–91 victory over the Knicks. Howard’s 17 double-doubles in his first 30 games for Charlotte is the third-highest total in franchise history, with only Emeka Okafor (22) and Larry Johnson (18) ahead of him. Howard does reign supreme in terms of rebounding, as his 377 boards through his first 30 games with the team are the most in franchise history. Johnson (351) and Okafor (336) round out the top three. The only active player that secured more rebounds than Howard in his first 30 games with his current team is DeMarcus Cousins, who corralled 391 boards in his first 30 contests with the Pelicans.

Super subs for Suns

For the second straight game the Suns’ bench outproduced the team’s starters, and for the second straight game that was a winning formula for Phoenix, who defeated the Mavericks, 97–91. The Suns’ subs totaled more points, rebounds, and assists than the starting five in a win at Minnesota on Saturday and Monday at Dallas. The last occurrence of a team’s bench producing more points, rebounds, and assists than its starters in back-to-back wins was in December 2013, when the Nuggets’ subs did so in victories at Toronto on December 1 and at Brooklyn on December 3.

Bruins spread the love in big win over Blue Jackets

Six players recorded at least one goal and one assist for the Bruins in their 7–2 win against the Blue Jackets. Rookies Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk each tallied a goal and two assists, and Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy all contributed a goal and an assist to the Bruins’ scoring output. This was the first time in almost 30 years that six different Bruins players each produced at least one goal and one assist in the same game. The last time it happened before Monday was in a 9–0 rout of the Sabres at Boston Garden on Dec. 22, 1987. The six Bruins who did it in that game were Geoff Courtnall, Steve Kasper, Ken Linseman, Rick Middleton, Cam Neely and Bill O’Dwyer.

Heinen and DeBrusk are the first pair of Bruins rookies to each score at least three points in the same game since Craig Janney and Bob Sweeney each tallied three points in a 4–3 Boston win at Quebec on March 12, 1988.

Wood looks good for Devils

Miles Wood and Stefan Noesen each scored two goals for the Devils in their 5–3 win against the Ducks. Wood has tallied only nine goals this season but he’s the Devils’ team leader with three multiple-goal games (one hat trick and a pair of two-goal games). He’s tied with Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen for the most multi-goal games this season among NHL players who’ve scored fewer than ten goals.

Quick stays dominant in Philadelphia

Jonathan Quick made 36 saves for the Kings as they ended their three-game winless streak with a 4–1 victory against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Quick is 5–0–1 in his six career road games against the Flyers. His 1.63 goals-against average at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center is the lowest among active NHL goaltenders who’ve played at least a half-dozen games in that building.

Barrie snaps streaks with two-goal night

Tyson Barrie, who entered play on Monday with no goals in his last 26 games, scored twice for the Avalanche in its 4–2 win over the Penguins. This was the first multiple-goal game by a Colorado defenseman since Barrie himself tallied two goals in a 3–2 win at Edmonton on Feb. 20, 2016. The Avs’ just-ended drought of nearly 22 months without a multi-goal game by a defenseman was the team’s longest since they went more than three years between a two-goal game by John-Michael Liles on Nov. 15, 2010 and one by Barrie (the first of his NHL career) on Jan. 14, 2014.