Elias Says: February 3, 2018

Warriors win with familiar formula

The Warriors’ Big 3 led the way in Golden State’s 119–104 victory over the Kings in Sacramento. Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 33 points, while Stephen Curry contributed 23 points and Klay Thompson chipped in with 20. Friday’s game marked the 30th time that Durant and the Splash Brothers scored 20 or more points in a regular season game (they also had two such games against the Cavaliers in last year’s Finals). The only trio with more games of that kind for the Warriors went by the moniker “Run TMC.” Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin totaled at least 20 points in 48 regular-season games over their two seasons as teammates.

Greek Freak does it again

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game-winning field goal with 1.9 seconds remaining finished off the Bucks’ seesaw battle with the Knicks. Friday’s game marked the second time this season that “The Greek Freak” made a game-winning field goal in the last five seconds of play; he also beat the Thunder in the closing seconds on December 29. Three other players this season have made multiple game-winners in the final five seconds – Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and Manu Ginobili have each made two such shots.

I’m gonna be like you, Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…

Tim Hardaway, Jr. connected on only one of his 14 field-goal attempts in New York’s loss at Milwaukee, becoming the first Knicks player to make so few field goals in a game while attempting so many since Patrick Ewing went 1-for-14 in a loss to the Magic on April 3, 1996. The NBA single-game record for most field-goal attempts with none made is 17, and it is held by Hardaway’s father, also named Tim, who went 0-for-17 for the Warriors in a victory at Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1991.

Simmons with an Oscar-worthy start to season

A late 17–0 run by the Heat made things interesting in the fourth quarter, but the 76ers survived, winning 103–97. Ben Simmons led Philadelphia with 20 points while also grabbing six rebounds and tying for the team-lead with five assists. With two weeks to go before the All-Star Game, Simmons has already accumulated 807 points, 371 rebounds, and 348 assists. Only one player prior to this year had that many points, rebounds, and assists before the All-Star break in his rookie season. Oscar Robertson (who else?) racked up 1492 points, 494 rebounds, and 461 assists before the All-Star game as a rookie in the 1960–61 campaign. “The Big O” reached those totals in 48 games, which is the same number of contests Simmons has played through Friday.

Even when lowering the minimums to 800 points, 300 rebounds, and 300 assists, only one other rookie would join Robertson and Simmons in their exclusive club. Magic Johnson compiled 918 points, 330 rebounds, and 368 assists in 50 games prior to the All-Star break in his rookie season, 1979–80.

What’s next for Terry Rozier?

A triple-double in his first NBA start was a tough act to follow, but Terry Rozier was up to the challenge, pouring in 31 points to lead the Celtics to a 119–110 win over the Hawks. Only two other active players scored at least 30 points in one of their first two career starts. It may take you a few (dozen) guesses before coming up with Jerryd Bayless, who celebrated his first NBA start in 2009 with 31 points, and Sam Dekker, who exploded for 30 points in his first start in 2017. The usual suspects for a note of this nature are further down the list: Russell Westbrook didn’t hit 30 points in a game until his fourth start, LeBron James and Kevin Durant both needed 17 starts to reach the 30-point plateau for the first time, and even Stephen Curry required 38 starts before netting his first 30.

Another triple-double for Westbrook versus Pelicans

Russell Westbrook posted his 16th triple-double of the season in a losing effort against the Pelicans, totaling 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists. Westbrook has notched a triple-double in each of his last four matchups with New Orleans dating back to January 2017. That ties his longest streak of consecutive triple-doubles against a particular opponent; Westbrook also had a streak of four such games against the Nuggets from April 2016 to April 2017.

Two other players in NBA history compiled streaks of four or more consecutive games with a triple-double against a specific team. Oscar Robertson had a four-game span of that kind against the Philadelphia Warriors, a six-gamer against the Chicago Packers, and a seven-game streak versus the Baltimore Bullets. (The Chicago Packers and Baltimore Bullets are the same NBA franchise: the current-day Washington Wizards.) The other to do so was Wilt Chamberlain, who produced two separate four-game triple-double streaks, both against the Pistons.

Suns burned by Mitchell’s huge night

Donovan Mitchell led all players with 40 points in the Jazz’s blowout victory over the Suns. Mitchell, who scored 41 points earlier this season against the Pelicans, is the first player in franchise history to record multiple 40-point games in his rookie season. The last player on any team to accomplish that feat was Blake Griffin, who had a pair of 40-point performances for the Clippers in 2010–11.

Mitchell still has a shot to set the NBA record for most 40-point games in a rookie season… as long as he reaches that plateau in every one of Utah’s 31 remaining games this season. Barring that, Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 32 games with 40 or more points as a rookie in the 1959–60 season will remain safe for another year.

Hornets score early and often versus Pacers

The Hornets were on fire in the first quarter, racking up 49 points in the first quarter to open up an early lead in their 133–126 victory over the Pacers. That first-period point total is the highest of any quarter in franchise history, surpassing the previous record of 47 points, done by Charlotte in the 4th quarter of a win over the Lakers in 1991. No other NBA team has had as many as 49 points in a quarter this season, and only one team reached those heights all of last season: the Warriors scored 50 points in the third quarter against the Clippers on Feb. 23, 2017.

Starting a game with a 49-point period had not been accomplished in any of the last 27 seasons. You’d have to go back to Nov. 25, 1990 to find the last occurrence of a NBA team scoring that many points in the first 12 minutes of a game. On that day, the Trail Blazers finished the opening quarter with 49 points, more than doubling the output of their opponent (the Spurs scored 18 in that period).

Big night for Hornets’ starting backcourt

Kemba Walker did most of the damage for the Hornets, leading the team with 41 points and nine assists, while backcourt mate Nicolas Batum chipped in a season-high 31 points. Walker and Batum have scored more than 30 points in the same game three times, doing so once in each of the last three seasons. The only other Hornets duo with more than one game of that kind is Larry Johnson and Glen Rice, who produced more than 30 points in the same game twice, both in November 1995.

A triple double-double for Lakers

Three players produced a double-double for the Lakers in their 102–99 victory over the Nets in Brooklyn. Julius Randle tied for the team-lead with 19 points to go along with 12 rebounds, Josh Hart had 15 points and a game-high 14 boards, and Brandon Ingram finished with 16 points and 10 assists. Los Angeles has had one other game this season in which three of their players notched a double-double, and that performance also came at the expense of the Nets. Ingram, Brook Lopez, and Kyle Kuzma reached double-digits in points and rebounds against Brooklyn on November 3 at Staples Center.

Coincidence aside, Friday’s feat was also impressive given how young all three players are – Randle is 23 years old, Hart is 22, and Ingram just 20. The Lakers had never had a game in which three players age 23 or younger recorded a double-double prior to Friday. The last trio in that age group on any team with such a performance – prepare to return to Coincidence Land – also did so in a road game at Brooklyn. On March 23, 2017, Marquese Chriss (19 years old), Alex Len (23), and Tyler Ulis (21) produced double-doubles for the Suns at Barclays Center.

DeRozan at his most dominant versus Blazers

DeMar DeRozan (35 points) outdueled Damian Lillard (32), and the Raptors were the beneficiary, defeating the Trail Blazers, 130–105. DeRozan has averaged 22.9 points per game in his career against Portland, his highest mark versus any team. He has scored 20 or more points in each of his last 12 matchups against Portland, his longest such streak versus any team and tied with Kevin Durant for the longest current streak versus the Blazers. The only active player with a longer streak of that kind against the Blazers is LeBron James, who reached 20 points in 16 consecutive matchups versus Portland from 2003 to 2012.

Malkin magnificent for third straight game

Evgeni Malkin scored two goals and assisted on two goals to help lead the Penguins to a 7–4 win over the Capitals. Malkin has scored seven goals over Pittsburgh’s last three games with at least two in each game. It’s the first time that Malkin has recorded a streak of three consecutive multiple-goal games in his NHL career and only the second time any player has done so for the Penguins since 1996–97. The only other three-game streak of multi-goal games by a Pittsburgh skater in the last 21 seasons was by Sidney Crosby in 2009 (Nov. 28–Dec. 3). Malkin is the second NHL player to score at least two goals in each of three consecutive team games this season, joining Sean Couturier, who produced three straight multiple-goal games for the Flyers last month (Jan. 6–13).

Couture feasts on the East

Logan Couture scored his team-high 22nd goal of the season for the San Jose Sharks in their 3–1 win against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Couture has scored 14 of his 22 goals this season in games versus Eastern Conference teams. That ties him with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the most goals by a Western Conference player against Eastern Conference clubs this season.

Staal lights lamp twice for Wild

Eric Staal scored a pair of goals for the Wild in their 5–2 victory against the Golden Knights. It was Staal’s sixth multiple-goal game this season, tying him with the Flyers’ Sean Couturier and the Islanders’ John Tavares and Anders Lee for the league lead in that category. Staal did not produce his first multi-goal game this season until November 30.

Milestone helper for Suter

Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter recorded the 400th assist of his NHL career in the Wild’s 5–2 win over the Golden Knights. Suter, a Wisconsin native, is the 31st U.S.-born player in NHL history to reach the 400-assist mark. The only other American players currently in the NHL who have 400 or more assists are Patrick Kane (497) and Suter’s teammate, Matt Cullen (448).

Three-pointer for Helm

Darren Helm tied his career high for points in one game when he tallied one goal and two assists in the Red Wings’ 4–1 win at Carolina. Helm, who entered play on Friday with no goals and three assists over his last 15 games, had produced three points in a game only twice before in his 11 seasons in the NHL, most recently on March 29, 2014, when he scored three goals for Detroit at Toronto.