Another near-miss of a rare of triple-double by Westbrook
For the second time in 12 days, Russell Westbrook fell one rebound short of a triple-double, and not just your garden-variety triple-double. Westbrook scored 20 points and was credited with 21 assists in Oklahoma City’s 127–124 loss at Denver. On Jan. 20, he scored 23 points and had 20 assists at Cleveland.
Only two players in NBA history earned a triple-double with at least 20 points and 20 assists in a 48-minute road game—that is, no neutral sites and no overtime periods: Magic Johnson (twice) and Rod Strickland. Regular readers of Elias Says will appreciate this: Not even Oscar Robertson did it nor has Westbrook himself done it. But RussWest has now missed by the margin of a single rebound twice in two weeks.
Griffin stars in his debut for Pistons
Blake Griffin led all players with 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his debut for the Pistons, who defeated the Grizzlies, 104–102. Only two players had a higher-scoring double-double in their first game for the Pistons than Griffin, and both did so in their NBA debut: Isiah Thomas in 1981 (31 points, 11 assists) and Grant Hill in 1994 (25 points, 10 rebounds). The Clippers had a .606 winning percentage in games in which Griffin had a double-double (143–93), including a 23–7 mark over the last two seasons.
Wizards without Wall: from woeful to wonderful
The Wizards defeated the Raptors, 122–119, for their third consecutive win since losing John Wall to a knee injury. Prior to this current 3–0 run, Washington had a 20–49 record when playing without Wall during his eight seasons with the team. The Wizards’ two highest-scoring in a total of 72 games without Wall have come in the last six days: Thursday’s victory and a 129–104 win at Atlanta on Saturday.
Houston misses 28 three-pointers, wins by 11 at San Antonio
On a night when its signature long-distance shooting was erratic, Houston managed a surprisingly easy 102–91 victory at San Antonio. The Rockets missed 28 of 42 three-pointers, shooting only 33 percent from distance, but raised their record to an astonishing 24–10 in games in which they missed at least 25 treys (a .706 winning percentage). The record of all other NBA teams in such games this season is 35–84 (.294).
It was the Spurs’ 11th loss by at least 10 points this season, already exceeding their total in any of the three previous seasons (7 in 2014–15, 6 in 2015–16, and 8 in 2016–17).
Butler’s first game in February looks like Dec.-Jan.
Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 28 points in the Timberwolves’ 108–89 win over the Bucks. It was Butler’s 10th game this season with at least 28 points, all since Dec. 1. Butler ranked 41st in the NBA with an average of 17.5 points per game during October and November, but improved to 13th in the league with a 24.8-PPG average in December and January.
Holl makes NHL history
Justin Holl became the first defenseman in NHL history to score a goal in his league debut and then score again the next day. Holl scored the first goal in the Maple Leafs’ 4–0 win at Madison Square Garden one night after scoring in his first NHL game, a 5–0 win over the Islanders.
Holl is just the third defenseman in the last 20 years to score a goal in each of his first two NHL games. The others both did so late in 2013: Taylor Fedun with the Oilers (Nov. 5–7) and Alex Grant for the Ducks (Nov. 20 and Dec. 11). Holl is the first Maple Leafs player at any position to score a goal in each of his first two NHL games since Jeremy Williams scored once in each his first three games which, remarkably, were in three different seasons (April 2006, February 2007, and February 2008).
A rare Leafs shutout win in New York City
Curtis McElhinney recorded his second shutout of the season in the Maple Leafs’ 4–0 win against the Rangers in New York, one night after Frederik Andersen blanked the Islanders, 5–0, at Toronto. This is only the third time in the franchise’s 100-year history that the Leafs recorded consecutive shutouts in one season with different goaltenders posting them. The last time that happened was in 1999, in 4–0 wins on home ice by Curtis Joseph (Oct. 25 vs. Dallas) and Glenn Healy (Oct. 27 vs. Atlanta). The other instance was in November 1930, when Toronto racked up five shutouts in their first five games of the season, with Lorne Chabot (games 1, 3, and 5) and Benny Grant (games 2 and 4) alternating turns in goal for the Maple Leafs.
McElhinney was the first Toronto goaltender to win a shutout on the road against the Rangers since 1965, when Johnny Bower stopped 27 shots in a 6–0 Maple Leafs victory at the previous Madison Square Garden. For the record, Vesa Toskala shut out the Rangers at MSG in 2008, but he was matched by Steve Valiquette and the Rangers won a shootout.
Perron OT goal gives Vegas a record-breaking victory
David Perron’s third overtime goal of the season earned the Golden Knights a 3–2 victory in Winnipeg on Thursday. It was Vegas’s 34th win, setting a record for a team in its first season in the NHL. Perron’s three overtime goals for the Knights are the most that any player has scored for a first-year NHL expansion team. (Vegas is the 10th team to enter the league since the five-minute OT period was introduced in 1983.) Perron is tied with Alex Ovechkin and Brayden Point of Tampa Bay for the most overtime goals by an NHL player this season.
Devils rookie comes through in the clutch
Nico Hischier snapped his 10-game goal drought in dramatic fashion, scoring the tiebreaking goal with 1:27 remaining in the third period, enabling the Devils to beat the Flyers, 4–3, at Newark. It’s only the second time since the team set up shop in New Jersey in 1982 that a Devils rookie scored a go-ahead goal in the final two minutes of the third period. The other New Jersey rookie to do that was John MacLean in a game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 14, 1985. Before Hischier, the last time any Devils player scored a goal of that kind was when Stephen Gionta did so against the Red Wings on March 4, 2014.
Rusk extends his strong run of form at home
Tuukka Rask won his seventh consecutive game at TD Garden with a 3–1 victory over the Blues. Not only has Rask won his last seven games in Boston but he also allowed only one or two goals in each game. Since 1940–41, the only other Bruins goaltender to win seven or more consecutive home games in one season while allowing no more than two goals in each game was Gilles Gilbert in November 1973.
Ward owns the Habs
Cam Ward posted his second shutout of the season in the Hurricanes’ 2–0 victory against the Canadiens at Raleigh. Ward has won all three games he has played versus the Canadiens this season and he has a 20–12–4 career record against them. The only other active NHL netminders with 20 or more wins versus Montreal are Ryan Miller (27) and Marc-Andre Fleury (21).
Karlsson extends his overtime goal streak
Erik Karlsson’s power play goal 32 seconds into overtime gave the Senators a 2–1 victory over the Ducks in Ottawa. Karlsson did not score an overtime goal in his first five seasons in the NHL but he has scored at least one in each of the four seasons since then. Brent Burns and Mark Giordano are the only other NHL defensemen to score one or more overtime goals in each of the last four seasons.
Three-point game for Panthers’ defenseman Keith Yandle
Keith Yandle scored one goal and assisted two in the Panthers’ 4–2 win at Buffalo. The only other time this season that a Florida defenseman produced three points in one game was when Yandle did it with three assists in a shootout loss to the Islanders on December 4. Yandle is the first Panthers defenseman to register more than one three-point game in one season since Brian Campbell had five such games for Florida in 2011–12 (including one four-point game).
Second straight shutout for Pekka Rinne
Pekka Rinne, who shut out the Devils in New Jersey in his last game (Jan. 25), recorded his second straight clean sheet with a 5–0 win against the Kings in Nashville on Thursday. It’s the first time that a Predators goaltender registered consecutive regular-season shutouts since Rinne himself did so on Feb. 12–14, 2013. Of course, Rinne also posted back-to-back shutouts at Chicago in the first two games of the Predators’ opening-round playoff series against the Blackhawks last year.
Compher sets a franchise rookie record
J.T. Compher’s second overtime goal of the season enabled the Avalanche to beat the Oilers in Edmonton. Compher, who also scored an OT winner for the Avs against Toronto on December 29, is the first rookie in Quebec/Colorado franchise history to score two regular-season overtime goals. Compher’s two overtime goals also tie him with Arizona’s Christian Fischer for the high this season among NHL rookies.
Killorn ends his slump with a four-point night
Alex Killorn tied his career high for points in one game when he tallied two goals and two assists in the Lightning’s 7–4 win against the Flames in Calgary. Killorn entered play on Thursday with no points in his last eight games and only three points over his last 16 games. The only other player ever to score four points or more in a game for the Lightning after going into that game with a point drought of at least eight games was defenseman Paul Mara, with two goals and two assists versus Washington on Nov. 5, 2000. Mara went into that game with a 10-game point drought.