Elias Says: Dec. 24, 2016

Westbrook joins Hall-of-Fame club after latest 40–10 game

Russell Westbrook notched his third consecutive 40-point game, as well as his 14th triple-double of the season, in the Thunder’s 117–112 victory over the Celtics in Boston. Westbrook, who also reached double-digits in rebounds in each of his last three contests, is the eighth player in NBA history with a streak of that length. The other seven to do so are Hall-of-Famers – George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, and Moses Malone. Malone was the most recent player prior to Westbrook with such a streak, having posted three consecutive 40-point/10-rebound games in 1982. Wilt “the Stilt” compiled the longest streak of games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds. Chamberlain compiled two separate streaks of 14 games with 40 or more points and at least 10 rebounds in the 1961–62 campaign.

Cavaliers take fourth quarter off but still win big

LeBron James was one of seven Cavaliers players to reach double-figures in points in Cleveland’s 119–99 blowout victory over the Nets. The game wasn’t as close as the final score may indicate, as the Cavs rested all of their starters for the entire fourth quarter. Brooklyn outscored Cleveland’s backups 42–21 in the final period to cut its deficit from 41 points to a mere 20. That “rally” by the Nets allowed the Cavaliers to lay claim to an unusual distinction. Cleveland is the first NBA team in the shot-clock era – that is, since the 1954–55 season – to win a game by 20 or more points after being outscored by at least 20 points in the fourth quarter.

In fact, there had been only one game in the shot-clock era prior to Friday in which a team won by 20 or more points after being outscored by at least 20 points in any quarter. On Nov. 23, 1967, the SuperSonics opened the third quarter with a 75–31 lead over the Celtics. Boston fought back by outscoring Seattle 49–26 in the third quarter to cut its deficit by more than half, from 44 points to 21. The run didn’t last for the Celtics, however, who lost to the Sonics, 133–106, in Boston.

Durant spreads scoring in 32-point night

Kevin Durant led all players with 32 points to help the Warriors hold off the Pistons, 119–113. Durant spaced out his scoring evenly through the night, scoring eight points in each of the first two quarters, nine points in the third, and seven in the fourth. Durant is the third player to score at least 30 points in a non-overtime game this season despite scoring fewer than 10 points in each quarter. The others to do that this season are John Wall, who scored 30 at Miami on December 12, and Nick Young, who racked up 32 points on December 17 at Cleveland.

LaVine joins Timberwolves’ 40-under-21 club

Zach LaVine scored a career-best 40 points on Friday in the Timberwolves’ loss to the Kings on Friday. LaVine is the third player to score 40 points in a game for Minnesota this season, and at age 21 LaVine is the oldest of the three to do so. You read that right – LaVine’s age as of Friday night was 21 years, 288 days, which makes him the old man of the Timberwolves’ “40 club” compared to Andrew Wiggins, who was 21 years, 264 days old as of his 47-point game against the Lakers on November 13. Karl-Anthony Towns, who has posted two games with more than 40 points this season, is younger than both Wiggins and LaVine; Towns’s age as of Friday was 21 years, 38 days. The trio of LaVine, Towns, and Wiggins are the first trio of teammates to post 40-point games in a single season at age 21 or under. In fact, no other team in NBA history had as many as two players do so prior to this year.

Lowry lights out versus Jazz

Kyle Lowry was on fire in Salt Lake City, connecting on 15 of 20 field-goal attempts to shoot the Raptors past the Jazz. Friday’s game marked the second time that Lowry shot 75 percent or better from the floor while attempting at least 20 shots in a game for the Raptors. He also made 15 of 20 field-goal attempts on February 26 earlier this year against the Cavaliers. The only other Raptors player to attempt 20 shots in a game with a field-goal percentage of 75 percent or better was Chris Bosh. Bosh also made 15 of 20 shots on Nov. 26, 2008 in a win over the Bobcats.

Lowry saved his best for last on Friday, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter while making nine of 10 shots from the floor. Only one other player this season attempted at least 10 shots in a quarter while shooting 90 percent or better. Emmanuel Mudiay shot 9-for-10 in the first quarter for the Nuggets on November 6 in Boston.

Career-best 39 for the Greek Freak

Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in a career-high 39 points to lead the Bucks to victory over the Wizards. Antetokounmpo, who celebrated his 22nd birthday earlier this month, also added eight rebounds and six assists in Milwaukee’s win. Only one other player in Bucks history met all of those stat plateaus in a game before his 23rd birthday. Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) had two such games as a Bucks rookie in the 1969–70 season, though he was an “older 22” than is Antetokounmpo.

Barnes helps Mavericks earn surprising win in Los Angeles

The Mavericks celebrated Dirk Nowitzki’s return to the lineup with a 90–88 upset victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles. Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 24 points, which included a go-ahead jumper with 3.7 seconds remaining to give the Mavs the lead for good. Barnes has made two other go-ahead field goals in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter, one in April 2015 against the Suns and the other in January 2016 at Philadelphia.

20 times 3 equals loss for Rockets

The Rockets connected on 20 three-pointers Friday night, but that was not enough as Houston fell to the Grizzlies in Memphis. The 20 three-point field-goals by the Rockets tied the most in a game made by a losing team. The Nets hit 20 three-pointers in a January 2012 loss at Denver, and the Warriors fell to the Celtics in April of last season despite connecting on 20 threes. The Rockets made at least 20 three-pointers in five games prior to Friday, and Houston’s average margin of victory in those games was 22 points.

Aldridge assists in win over former squad

It was an easy night for the Spurs in Portland despite resting Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. LaMarcus Aldridge picked up the slack for San Antonio, totaling a team-high 14 rebounds and six assists against his former team in the Spurs’ 110–90 victory. Aldridge has led the Spurs in assists (or tied for the team-lead) in five games this season. That’s as many games as he had in the previous three seasons combined (five such games from 2013–14 through 2015–16).

Payton is Magic spark off the bench

Elfrid Payton came off the bench to score 25 points and distribute nine assists in the Magic’s 109–90 victory over the Lakers. Payton was the only player on either team to top 20 points or hand out more than four assists. Only two other players in Magic franchise history finished a game as the outright leader for both teams in points and assists after opening the game on the bench. Gilbert Arenas did that for Orlando in 2010 against the Cavaliers (22 points and 11 assists), as did JJ Redick in 2012 at Phoenix (20 points and nine assists).

Hawks eke out one-point win over Nuggets

Paul Millsap sank two free throws with six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the Hawks their first, last, and only lead of the period in their 109–108 squeaker over the Nuggets. Entering Friday, Atlanta had owned the league’s longest active losing streak in games decided by one point. The Hawks had lost their previous five games of that kind, dating back to January 2014, which was the team’s longest such losing streak since a five-game skid of that kind in 2005. The Magic and Trail Blazers now share the burden of owning the longest current losing streak in one-point games; both Orlando and Portland have lost their last four such games.

Triple-double for Batum in Charlotte

Nicolas Batum posted his first triple-double this season in the Hornets’ 103–91 victory over the Bulls. Batum scored 20 points, dished out 10 assists, and led all players with 11 rebounds to clinch his third triple-double since joining Charlotte last season. That modest total is already good enough to tie Baron Davis for the third-most triple-doubles in Hornets franchise history. Anthony Mason recorded the most triple-doubles for Charlotte with seven, while Larry Johnson ranks second with five.

Crosby nets another game-opening goal

Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 24th goal of the season in the Penguins’ 4–1 win over the Devils on Friday. Crosby has scored once in each of Pittsburgh’s last three games and his goal was the opening goal in each game. The Penguins are in their 50th year in the NHL but the only other time that a Penguins player scored the first goal (by either side) in each of three consecutive team games in one season was when Mario Lemieux did so in 1993 (March 18–21). Crosby is the second NHL player to score three straight “first goals” this season, joining Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan, who had a three-game streak earlier this week (Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday).

Blue Jackets streak into holidays with 12 straight wins

The Blue Jackets’ extended their team-record winning streak to 12 games with a 2–1 victory against the Canadiens. It’s the longest winning streak in the NHL this season, and it matches the longest winning streaks in any of the past four seasons. The Bruins won 12 consecutive games in 2013–14, and the Panthers and Blackhawks each notched 12-game skeins in 2015–16.

Columbus (23–5–4, .781) has the best record in the league (by points percentage) as the NHL takes its annual Christmas break. That’s quite a turnaround for the Blue Jackets, who had the worst record in the NHL at last year’s holiday break (13–20–3, .403). They are the first NHL team to go “worst to first” at Christmas from one season to the next since a minimum two-day late-December break was introduced to the NHL in 1973–74.

Nielsen nets shootout winner

Frans Nielsen scored the final goal in regulation time and the winning goal in the shootout which gave the Red Wings a 4–3 victory over the Panthers. It was Nielsen’s first shootout goal in four attempts since he signed with the Red Wings as a free agent last summer, and it was the 43rd shootout goal of his career, which ties him with Radim Vrbata for the NHL high since the tiebreaker was introduced in 2005. Nielsen has now scored the deciding goal in a shootout 18 times, tying T.J. Oshie for the NHL career high.

Stars prevail in OT thanks to rookie

Rookie Esa Lindell scored in overtime to earn the Dallas Stars a 3–2 win versus the Kings on Friday. He’s the second rookie defenseman in Stars franchise history to score a regular-season overtime goal. The first was John Klingberg, in a game at Vancouver on March 28, 2015. Lindell is the second rookie defenseman to register an overtime goal this season, joining the Blue Jackets’ Zach Werenski, who beat the Ducks with an OT goal on November 9.

Islanders share scoring

Twelve players recorded at least one point for the Islanders in their 5–1 win over the Sabres in Brooklyn, with Ryan Strome, Travis Hamonic and Dennis Seidenberg leading the way with two points apiece. That matches the Islanders’ high for most players with points in a game this season, which was set in their 4–2 win versus the Canucks on November 7. In that game a dozen Islanders players registered exactly one point. Five players who scored a point in that game also produced a goal or an assist in Friday’s win against Buffalo: Jason Chimera, Cal Clutterbuck, Andrew Ladd, Alan Quine and John Tavares.

Giordano lights lamp twice

Defenseman Mark Giordano scored two goals in the Flames’ 4–1 win against the Canucks, with the first goal coming on a Calgary power play and the second while the Flames were shorthanded. Giordano’s two-goal game was the fourth of his NHL career but this one was special. Before Friday, the only other time that a Flames defenseman produced a power play goal and a shorthanded goal in the same game was when Al MacInnis did so in a 6–1 win over the Canucks on March 26, 1988.

Pair of points for MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon scored the winning goal in Colorado’s 2–1 overtime victory at Chicago, after assisting on the tying goal by Mikko Rantanen in the third period. This was MacKinnon’s team-leading seventh multiple-point game this season. The only other Avs player with more than three multi-point games is Matt Duchene with five.

Another Wild win for Coyle and company

Minnesota extended its winning streak to a team-record 10 games with a 7–4 victory over the Rangers in New York. Charlie Coyle led the attack for the Wild with one goal and three assists. Coyle, who had never before scored more than two points in one game during his five seasons in the NHL, is the first Minnesota player to score four points in a game this season. This was only the second time in the last eight seasons that a Wild player scored as many as four points in a road game. Zach Parise did that with two goals and two assists in Minnesota’s 5–4 loss at Colorado on Jan. 30, 2014.

Komarov snaps drought with two-fer

Leo Komarov ended his 15-game goal drought by scoring a pair of goals in the Maple Leafs’ 4–1 win against the Coyotes in Arizona. It was Komarov’s first two-goal game this season and the sixth multi-goal game of his NHL career. He’s the eighth Toronto player to score two or more goals in a game this season. The only other NHL teams with at least eight players who’ve recorded a multi-goal game this season are Washington (10) and Nashville (9).

Hurricanes cap comeback win in overtime

Teuvo Teravainen’s first overtime goal in the NHL earned the Hurricanes a 3–2 win over the Bruins, a game in which Carolina trailed 2–0 midway through the second period. This was the Hurricanes’ third win this season in a game in which they trailed by at least two goals, having previously overcome a two-goal deficit to beat the Panthers on November 27 and a three-goal disadvantage in their win against the Canucks on December 13. Carolina had only three such wins over the previous two seasons combined (two in 2014–15 and one in 2015–16). Friday’s victory marked only the second time in the last 23 seasons that the Hurricanes (or the Whalers) won a game against the Bruins in which they trailed by more than one goal. Their only other two-goal comeback victory against Boston since 1993 was a 4–3 overtime win in Raleigh on Oct. 26, 2005.

Carlson connects on pair for Capitals

John Carlson scored two goals in one game for the second time in his NHL career to help lead the Capitals to a 4–0 win against the Lightning. Carlson, whose other two-goal game was against the Canucks in December 2014, is the second Washington defenseman to score two goals in one game this season. The first was Matt Niskanen, who tallied a pair of goals against the Islanders on December 13. Calgary (Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano) and Dallas (John Klingberg and Jamie Oleksiak) are the only NHL teams besides Washington with two different defensemen who have a multiple-goal game this season.