Elias Says Jan. 14, 2018

Pats rout Titans on both sides of ball

The Patriots picked up where they left off last February, cutting through the Titans defense for five touchdowns in a 35-14 victory. In last year’s postseason, New England won its three games en route to the NFL championship by scores of 34-16, 36-17 and 34-28. With Saturday’s output, the Patriots became the first NFL team to score 34 or more points in each of four consecutive postseason games.

New England’s defensive unit came up big, sacking Marcus Mariota eight times. It’s been 24 years since we last saw an NFL team produce eight sacks in a regulation-length postseason game. That was on Jan. 16, 1994, when the Chiefs defense laid nine sacks on the Oilers in a 28-20 win in Houston. The Patriots’ game on Saturday night was the 242nd regulation-length postseason game since that nine-sack game by the Chiefs.

Put the offense and the defense together and you get this: On Saturday night, the Patriots became the first team in NFL history to score at least 30 points and to earn as many as eight sacks in any of the 502 postseason games played since the league began recording sacks for teams in 1963.

That’s the way it was as Bill Belichick head-coached his 37th NFL postseason game, breaking the record that he had previously shared with Tom Landry and Don Shula. Tom Brady also became the oldest quarterback ever to start, and ever to win, a postseason game, breaking records previously held by Brett Favre. Brady completed 35 of his 53 passes, the highest total of passes ever thrown in an NFL postseason game in which a player’s team won by a margin of seven points or more.

Eagles advance after last-minute goal-line stand stops Falcons

The Eagles’ defense lived up to its reputation, turning back the Falcons on a fourth-down play from Philadelphia’s two yard line in the closing minute, clinching a 15-10 victory. It was only the third postseason game in the last 50 years in which the winning team had prevented a go-ahead touchdown in the game’s last two minutes with a fourth-and-goal stop. The Ravens stopped the 49ers in that manner late in Super Bowl XLVII following the 2012 season, and the Chargers similarly stymied the Steelers late in the 1994 AFC Championship Game. The Eagles, though, were only doing what they had practiced all season: They had not allowed a point in the last two minutes of the second half in any game this season.

The Eagles’ offense was led by Nick Foles, who started only three games during the regular season. Foles became the first NFL quarterback over the last 20 years to start and win a postseason game after having made three or fewer starts during the preceding regular season. The last 10 quarterbacks who had made postseason starts after three or fewer starts during that regular season had all lost. Scott Zolak lost with the Patriots in the 1998 playoffs; Rob Johnson, Buffalo, 1999; Kelly Holcomb, Cleveland, 2005; Rex Grossman, Chicago, 2005; Todd Collins, Washington, 2007; Joe Webb, Minnesota, 2012; Ryan Lindley, Arizona, 2014, AJ McCarron, Cincinnati, 2015; Connor Cook, Oakland, 2016; and Matt Moore, Miami, 2016. The last such quarterback to earn a postseason win was Randall Cunningham with the Vikings against the Giants in the 1997 playoffs.

Big Game for Warriors’ Big Three, but everyone was hot

The Warriors held a halftime lead of 81-54 at Toronto, then saw the Raptors narrow the lead to a single point in the fourth quarter before the champions secured a 127-125 victory. The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, who contributed 26, 25 and 24 points, respectively. But in a two-point victory, several other players had a hand in the victory. Ten different players had at least one field-goal attempt for the Warriors, and none of them shot below 50 percent from the floor. It was just the second NBA game in the last five seasons in which at least 10 players on a team had a field-goal attempt and each of those players hit at least half of his shots; the Pelicans did that in a victory at Sacramento on March 16 of last year. Moreover, the Warriors had not done that since March 8, 1987, when the Joe Barry Carroll-and-Chris Mullin version of the team went 11-for-11, under George Karl, in a victory over the Spurs, then coached by Bob Weiss.

Saturday’s game marked the 90th time over the last three seasons that Curry and Thompson have combined for 50 points in a regular-season contest (Golden State is 82-8 in those games), by far the highest total by any teammates in the NBA over that stretch. (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have done it in 69 games.)

Wall leads Wizards to overtime win

John Wall scored a pair of field goals in overtime and assisted on the Wizards’ three other overtime field goals to steer the team to a 119-113 victory over the visiting Nets. Wall finished with 23 points and 16 assists, and now has 88 points and 36 assists over his last three games. The only players in the Wizards’ 57-season history who had as many points and as many assists over a three-game span were Michael Adams (96 and 39) in 1991 and Wall himself (94 and 36) in December of 2016.

Marcin Gortat, assisted by Wall, made a bucket for the first points in overtime, and the Wizards never trailed during the extra period. In 62 percent of this season’s overtime games, the team scoring first in overtime has gone on to win—a percentage right in line with the percentage demonstrated across the last 10 NBA seasons. But this season, 55 percent of teams that have won games in overtime never trailed during the overtime period(s), a much higher that the corresponding rate of 38 percent over the last 10 seasons.

Williams leads Clippers to another win, this time sans Jordan

Lou Williams led all scorers with 26 points as the Clippers weathered the absence of DeAndre Jordan and ran off to a 126-105 victory over the visiting Kings. It was the eighth consecutive game in which Williams has led his team (or shared the lead) in scoring. Only one other Clippers player has had a streak that long over the last 10 seasons; Blake Griffin had a nine-game streak in the fall of 2013. The last seven of those eight games by Williams have come since the calendar flipped to 2018, and he and DeMar DeRozan lead the NBA in points scored (222) in games played during the new year.

Jordan, who missed a game for the first time this season, has played in 445 games over the last six seasons, the second-highest total in the NBA over that span (Corey Brewer leads with 448). Jordan has played 714 games in his NBA career, all with the Clippers, and the next time that he plays, he will equal the franchise record for career games played. That mark of 715 games was set by Randy Smith, who played most of those games for the Buffalo Braves before the team relocated to the west coast in 1978.

Lakers maintain a winning streak and end a losing streak… Huh?

The Lakers woke up early and played late into the afternoon, coming away with a 107-101 victory in a 1pm start at Dallas that required an extra period to determine a winner. Los Angeles had trailed, 80-70, with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The victory was only the Lakers’ second this season in which they overcame a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, with the other coming back on October 25 against the Wizards.

The victory was the fourth straight for the Lakers on the heels of a nine-game losing streak, and it ended the Lakers’ streak of 14 consecutive losses to the Mavericks. Despite the recent setbacks, the Purple and Gold leads the all-time series against Dallas, 105 wins to 46. The Lakers’ .695 winning percentage against the Mavs is the second highest by any NBA team against an opponent it has faced at least 150 times. The Spurs, based on a 126-39 record, own a .764 winning percentage against the Clippers.

Thunder overcomes Hornets at the end

The Thunder trailed, 59-55, at halftime of Saturday’s game at Charlotte, but clamped down in the second half and prevailed, 101-91. The Hornets became the first team this season to finish a game with so few points after having generated as many as 59 points in the first half. Then again, fourth-quarter offense has been a season-long problem for the Carolinians. Including their 5-for-21 shooting performance in the final period against Oklahoma City, the Hornets have made only 40.2 percent of their fourth-quarter field-goal attempts this season, lowest in the NBA. Charlotte also owns the NBA’s lowest fourth-quarter three-point-field-goal percentage (27.2 percent), including a 1-for-5 showing on Saturday.

Big win for Spurs as Bertans shines again

The Spurs rolled to a 112-80 victory over the Nuggets in what was San Antonio’s second-largest margin of victory this season. Back on November 11, the Spurs downed the Bulls, 133-94.

For the second time within six days, Davis Bertans came off the bench to make six field goals from beyond the three-point arc. Bertans is the first Spurs player to come off the bench to hit six threes in two different games in the same season since Matt Bonner did it twice in the 2010-11 season.

Rookie Markkanen leads Bulls to another win

The Bulls won another squeaker, holding on for a 109-107 victory over the visiting Pistons. In Chicago’s previous game, three nights earlier, the Bulls took a 122-119 decision in New York in double overtime. The Bulls’ leading scorer in both games was rookie Lauri Markkanen, who scored 33 points against the Knicks and 19 against the Pistons. The last Bulls rookie to lead the team in scoring in each of two consecutive games, both victories, was Nikola Mirotic in March of 2015.

Sharks win a thriller

Joonas Donskoi scored the game-tying goal with 16 seconds to play in the third period and Marc-Edouard Vlasic put home the game-winner after 2:42 of overtime in the Sharks’ thrilling 6-5 victory over the visiting Coyotes. It was the first time this season that an NHL team has won a game in an overtime period after having tied the score by scoring with less than 20 seconds remaining in the third period. The Sharks’ last victory of that type came on Oct. 26, 2005 at Dallas, with Marco Sturm tying the game with 20 seconds left in the third period and Patrick Marleau winning it at 3:20 of overtime.

Islanders kids run Rangers ragged

A pair of 20-year-olds, Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, each scored two goals for the Islanders in their 7-2 win over the Rangers. It was the first time in franchise history that two players age 20 or younger each scored at least two goals for the Islanders in the same game. Barzal and Beauviller are the first pair of teammates not yet 21 each to score multiple goals in the same NHL game since Dec. 28, 2001, when Ilya Kovalchuk (then 18 years old) and Dany Heatley (age 20) each scored two goals for the Atlanta Thrashers in a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs.

Barzal also earned three assists in Saturday’s game at Madison Square Garden. It was his second five-point game this season, having previously done that with five assists in the Islanders’ 6-4 win against Colorado on November 5. Excluding 1917-18, the NHL’s first season, Barzal is only the fifth rookie to collect at least five points in multiple games within one season. Bryan Trottier had two such games for the Islanders in 1975-76, and the three Stastny brothers each did that for the Quebec Nordiques: Peter and Anton in 1980-81, and Marian in 1981-82.

Double-double for Malkin

Evgeni Malkin provided two goals and two assists in the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Red Wings. It was the 11th time that Malkin produced at least two goals and two assists in a regular-season NHL game, the second-most “double-doubles” among active players. Jaromir Jagr has 24 games of that type (though none since January 2013), while no other active NHL player has produced more than seven such games.

Triple-double for Couturier

Sean Couturier scored two goals for the third straight game to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 win over the Devils in Newark. Couturier is the first NHL player to score at least two goals in each of three consecutive team games in one season since Alex Galchenyuk produced three multi-goal games in a row for the Canadiens in March 2016. This is the fifth time in the team’s 50-year history that a Flyers player has recorded three consecutive multiple-goal games in one season. Reggie Leach did that twice (January 1976 and October 1981), and Ross Lonsberry (February 1976) and Wayne Simmonds (December 2013) once each.

100 goals for Galchenyuk

Alex Galchenyuk scored the 100th goal of his NHL career in the Canadiens’ shootout loss to the Bruins in Montreal. Galchenyuk, who was the Canadiens’ first-round pick (third overall) in the 2012 Entry Draft, is only the second player from his draft class to reach the century mark in goals. Nashville’s Filip Forsberg, the 11th overall selection in the 2012 draft (he was Washington’s first-round pick but was traded to the Predators without ever playing a game for the Capitals), has scored 106 goals in the NHL. No other 2012 draftee has scored as many as 75 NHL goals.

Defenseman Dumba scores twice

Matt Dumba scored two goals in the Wild’s 4-1 victory against the Jets. It was Dumba’s second multiple-goal game this season, tying the Sharks’ Brent Burns, the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo and the Canadiens’ Shea Weber for the NHL lead among defensemen. Dumba has tied the Wild team record for multi-goal games in one season by a defenseman, done three times before: by Lubomir Sekeras in 2000-01 (the team’s inaugural season), and by both Marc-Andre Bergeron and Marek Zidlicky in 2008-09.

Kerfoot leads rookies in multi-point games

Alexander Kerfoot scored one goal and assisted on another in the Avalanche’s 4-1 win in Dallas. It was Kerfoot’s 10th multiple-point game this season, the highest total by any NHL rookie. The Islanders’ Mathew Barzal stands second among this season’s rookie class with nine multi-point games. Kerfoot has more multiple-point games than one-point games this season (10-8).