Elias Says: Dec. 28, 2017

Rondo in the spirit of giving in Pelicans’ win

Rajon Rondo dished out a career high 25 assists in the Pelicans’ 128-113 triumph over the Nets on Wednesday. His previous high was 24 assists on October 29, 2010 against the Knicks. Ten of Rondo’s 25 assists came in the fourth quarter; he had never before had 10-or-more assists in a quarter (his previous high was nine assists, done several times).

Rondo’s game on Wednesday also marked the first time he had at least 20 assists in a game for the Pelicans; he had six such regular season games for the Celtics and two for the Kings. Rondo is the fourth player in NBA history with a 20-assist game for three different teams, joining Guy Rodgers (four such games for Warriors, two for Bulls, and one for Bucks), Kevin Porter (four games for Bullets, 10 for Pistons, and four for Nets), and John Lucas (one for Rockets, one for Warriors, and two for Spurs).

It was the 16th time in NBA history that a player was credited with 25-or-more assists in one game, and Rondo became the 12th different player to do it. (Kevin Porter and John Stockton each had 25-or-more assists in three different games during their NBA careers.) Rondo accumulated his 25 assists while playing only 30 minutes, 18 seconds—by far the least playing time for a player producing 25-or-more assists in an NBA game (Previously, the least playing time for such a player was the 36 minutes that Stockton played in a 27-assist game for the Jazz in a loss at Madison Square Garden on December 19, 1989).

Rondo scored only two points on Wednesday night, becoming only the second player to score fewer than 10 points in a 25-assist game. On February 23, 1987, Nate McMillan finished with 25 assists and eight points for the Seattle SuperSonics in a victory over the Clippers.

Rondo became the first NBA player in nearly 22 years to earn as many as 25 assists in a game, the longest span that the NBA has gone without a 25-assist game over its 72-year history. Jason Kidd had generated the last 25-assist game, when he finished with exactly that many in the Mavericks’ double-overtime victory over the Jazz on February 8, 1996.

Duo of Westbrook and George lead Oklahoma City to a win

Russell Westbrook had 30 points and 13 assists in the Thunder’s 124-107 victory over the Raptors. Westbrook has at least 25 points and 10 assists in each of his last four games, one shy of the longest such streak of his NBA career (done twice, November 28 to December 9, 2016 and March 26 to April 2, 2017).

Paul George scored 33 points in the win on Wednesday. It was his fourth 30-point game in the 2017-18 campaign, his first season with the Thunder. Since the team moved to Oklahoma City, the only other player with that many 30-point games in his first season with the Thunder was Russell Westbrook in 2008-09 (six such games in rookie season).

Butler is the star in overtime

Jimmy Butler dropped 39 points on the Nuggets on Wednesday, including 12 of the Timberwolves’ 14 overtime points in their victory. Only two others scored at least 12 points in one OT period this season: Stephen Curry, with 13 on November 29 at Los Angeles versus the Lakers, and Kevin Durant, with 12 on December 18, also against the Lakers in LA.

Butler has scored 12-or-more points in one overtime period once before. On December 18, 2015, as a member of the Bulls, he scored 13 points in the fourth OT period of a loss to the Pistons.

Carter still has it

Vince Carter, who turned 40 years old in January, came off the bench to score 24 points and made 10 of his 12 field goal attempts (83.3%) in the Kings’ 109-95 win over the Cavaliers. There were only two previous instances of a player scoring that many points and shooting 80 percent from the floor at 40 years or older: Robert Parish did so for the Celtics at 40 years old in November 1993 (26 points and 85.7%) and Carter himself in March earlier this year (24 points, 8-for-8).

Kuzma misses the mark

Rookie Kyle Kuzma scored just nine points and made four of 24 field goal attempts in the Lakers’ loss to the Grizzlies. The last rookie with 10-or-fewer points and at least 20 missed field goal attempts in a game was Christian Laettner for the T’Wolves in December 1992 against the Warriors (10 points, 5-for-25).

Horford comes up big as Celtics win sixth straight in Charlotte

Al Horford had 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Celtics won their sixth consecutive game in Charlotte, defeating the Hornets, 102-91. Entering Wednesday, Horford failed to reach both 20 points and 10 rebounds in any of his first 102 games as a member of the Celtics since joining the team last season. Horford had 70 regular season games of this variety in his nine seasons with the Hawks (578 total games with Atlanta from 2007-08 to 2015-16 season).

The Celtics’ six-game winning streak in Charlotte is their longest road winning streak versus a particular team since winning seven straight in Philadelphia against the 76ers from December 2007 to December 2010.

Warriors win big, Durant leads the team with 21 points

The Warriors put 126 points on the board in their blowout win over the Jazz, with Kevin Durant leading the team with 21 points. It has been nearly three years since the last time Golden State scored at least 125 points in a game in which its leading scorer had fewer than 25 points. On December 30, 2014, the Warriors defeated the 76ers, 126-86, with Marreese Speights leading the way with 23 points. Between these two games, the Warriors scored 125-or-more points in 54 regular-season games.

Hawks win two straight for first time this season

The Hawks finished off strong in the fourth quarter, scoring 35 points to the Wizards’ 23, on their way to a 14-point win over Washington. Ersan Ilyasova led all players with 11 points in that final quarter. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Ilyasova scored 10-or-more points in the fourth quarter just one other time, with 10 fourth-quarter points on December 8, 2016 at New Orleans.

Atlanta has won two straight games for the first time this season, having defeated Dallas in its previous game on Saturday. The last time the Hawks went this far into a season (33 games before Wednesday’s win) without winning consecutive games was in 2004-05, when they did not have a winning streak of at least two games throughout the entire season.

Bulls storm back to defeat Knicks

The Bulls were able to rally from 15 points down in their win over the Knicks. Entering Wednesday, Chicago had lost each of its last 29 games in which the team trailed by at least 15 points, the longest current streak of this type in the NBA. The Bucks now own the longest active streak, having lost their last 28 games of this variety. The last time the Bulls lost 29 consecutive games of this type was from April 2003 to April 2005, with a 55-game streak.

Nowitzki leads Mavs with 15 points as Dallas just gets by Pacers

Dirk Nowitzki led all Mavericks with 15 points in their 98-94 win over the Pacers on Wednesday. The last game in which the Mavs’ leading scorer had 15 or fewer points was on April 12 earlier this year, a 100-93 victory over the Grizzlies (Nicolas Brussino and Devin Harris each scored 15 points for Dallas). Prior to that game, the Mavericks had lost 28 consecutive games in which their leading scorer netted at most 15 points.

Make it 10 straight games with a point for the Knights

The Golden Knights beat the Ducks, 4-1, on Wednesday night, thereby improving their record over their last 10 games to 9-0-1. It’s the longest streak of consecutive games with at least one point by an expansion team in NHL history. The previous mark was held by the 1993-94 Panthers, who went 5-0-4 over a nine-game spree in January of that season.

What a start for Devils rookie!

Nico Hischier scored two goals in the Devils’ 3–1 win against the Red Wings in Newark on Wednesday. Hischier’s first goal gave New Jersey a 1–0 lead at the 15:16 mark of the first period and he doubled the Devils’ lead when he scored his second goal just over three minutes later. This was the second two-goal game in the NHL for the 18-year-old Hischier, who will turn 19 next week (January 4). He’s the third player in Devils franchise history to register two multiple-goal games at age 18. Paul Gagne did that for the Colorado Rockies in 1980-81, and Kirk Muller had a pair of multi-goal games for New Jersey on 1984–85.

Rask is on fire

Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in a 5–1 victory over the Senators in Boston, which extended the Bruins’ winning streak to a season-high five games. Rask was 3–8–2 with a 2.91 GAA in his first 13 games this season but he’s 9–0–1 with a 1.41 GAA since then. Rask’s nine wins over that span (Nov. 29 to date) are the most by any NHL goaltender. Rask has tied his career high with a streak of 10 consecutive decisions without a regulation loss. He did that three times before, most recently in November/December 2015.

Malkin and company complete the comeback

Evgeni Malkin tallied a goal and two assists, all in the third period, as the Penguins overcame a 3–1 deficit at the end of the second period and beat the Blue Jackets, 5–4, via a shootout. It was the first time that a Penguins player scored three points in one period of a regular-season game since January 16 last season, when Malkin and defensemen Trevor Daley and Justin Schultz each racked up three points in the second period of a game against the Capitals. This was Malkin’s first three-point third period in a regular-season game since Jan. 15, 2012, when he produced a natural hat trick in the final 20 minutes of a 6–3 Penguins win against the Lightning in Tampa.

Rinne is a road warrior

Nashville’s Pekka Rinne earned first-star honors by making 29 saves in his 2–1 win against the Blues in St. Louis. Rinne has won his last four road games while allowing no more than one goal in each game (two shutouts and two one-goal games). It’s the first time this season that an NHL goaltender has won four consecutive road games while giving up a maximum of one goal in each game. Scott Darling, then with Chicago, was the only NHL netminder with a four-game streak of that kind last season. The only other such streak in Predators history is Rinne’s own five-game streak in 2011–12 (Dec. 11–Jan. 24).

Barzal wins it in OT

Rookie Mathew Barzal’s first overtime goal in the NHL earned the Islanders a 3–2 win against the Sabres in Brooklyn. He’s the first rookie to score an overtime goal for the Islanders since Feb. 21, 2013, when Thomas Hickey produced an OT winner in a game at Montreal. The 20-year-old Barzal is the youngest player to score an overtime goal for the Isles since John Tavares (who assisted on Barzal’s game-winner on Thursday) scored three OT goals at age 20 in 2010–11.

Scoreless game needs the shootout

Rangers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec posted the 18th shutout of his NHL career and his first shutout for a franchise other than the Thrashers/Jets with a 1–0 shootout win against the Capitals. There were six NHL games decided by a shootout after a 65-minute goalless stalemate in the 2014–15 season, but Wednesday’s game at Madison Square Garden was only the second of its kind since then. The other 1–0 shootout victory in the NHL over the last three seasons was Edmonton’s win at Montreal on Feb. 5, 2017, with Cam Talbot in goal for the Oilers. This was the fourth such win for the Rangers and first since Feb. 1, 2012, when Henrik Lundqvist was in goal at Buffalo.

Aho puts his team ahead

Sebastian Aho’s first goal of the game broke a 1–1 tie in the middle of the third period and his second goal was an empty-netter, which wrapped up the scoring in the Hurricanes’ 3–1 win over the Canadiens. Aho has scored only ten goals this season but seven of them have been go-ahead goals. The only NHL players who have scored more tiebreaking goals this season than Aho are Sean Monahan (10), Brock Boeser (8) and Filip Forsberg (8), each of whom has scored at least 15 total goals this season.

Armia nets a pair in Jets’ win

Joel Armia scored two goals in a game for the first time this season (and the second time in his NHL career) to help lead the Jets to a 4–3 win over the Oilers. Armia is the seventh different player to produce a multiple-goal game for Winnipeg this season. The Jets are 10–1–0 when one of their players scores two or more goals in a game this season. The only time they didn’t win in that situation this season was a 5–3 loss at Nashville on November 20, when Mathieu Perreault scored two goals for Winnipeg.

Goligoski puts Coyotes ahead to stay

Defenseman Alex Goligoski’s tiebreaking goal in the middle of the second period was the game-winning goal for the Coyotes in their 3–1 victory at Colorado. Goligoski has scored only four goals this season but two of them have been game-winners, which ties him with Christian Fischer for the Arizona team lead in that category. Goligoski’s two game-winning goals this season match his total of game-winners over the previous six seasons combined (two: one for Dallas in both 2011–12 and 2015–16).