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Elias Says: Dec. 31, 2016

Not bad for the last pick in the draft

Isaiah Thomas scored 52 points in the Celtics’ 117–114 victory over the Heat. Thomas was the last player selected in the 2011 NBA Draft, taken 60th overall by Sacramento. You have to go back 25 years for the previous 50-point game by a player who came off the board that late in the draft. Michael Adams was chosen with the 66th pick in 1985, coincidentally by the Kings, and he produced the lone 50-point game of his NBA career in March 1991––a 54-point performance for the Nuggets in an overtime contest against the Bucks.

It was the most points ever scored by a Celtics player––regular-season or playoffs––in a game that Boston won by a margin of five-or-fewer points.

Thomas scored 16 straight Celtics points in the fourth quarter, the most consecutive fourth-quarter points scored for a team by one player in a victory this season, and the most since Kobe Bryant scored 17 straight Lakers points in the fourth quarter of his goodbye game last April 13, a 101–96 win over the Jazz.

Harden carries Rockets to three-game win streak

The Rockets are on a three-game winning streak thanks to James Harden’s “swishing and dishing.” Harden scored 32 points with 12 assists on Monday night against Phoenix, he had 34 points and 11 assists Tuesday night at Dallas, and he came through with 30 points and 10 assists versus the Clippers on Friday night. The only other NBA player in the past 25 years to lead his team to three straight victories with a 30/10 (points/assists) effort in each game was LeBron James for the Cavaliers in November 2007.

Warriors: 72–12 in 2016

The Warriors’ victory on Friday night––in what was their final game this month––gave them a 72–12 record in regular-season games during 2016, the best for any NBA team this year. The only other NBA teams that won as many as 70 games in any calendar year were the Bulls (74–11 in 1996), last year’s Warriors (72–12 in 2015) and Spurs (72–23 in 2012).

Down by 13? No problem for the Spurs

The Spurs trailed, 40–27, in the middle of the second quarter but they rallied to defeat the Trail Blazers. It was San Antonio’s fifth win this season in which it overcame a deficit of at least 13 points, tying the Hornets for the NBA high. In fact, the Spurs have almost a .500 record after falling behind by 13 or more points this season; in 11 games of that kind they are 5–6 (.455), the highest such winning percentage in the league.

Burke scores 20 off the bench by halftime

Trey Burke came off the bench to score 20 points before halftime and finished with a game-high 27 points in the Wizards’ win over the Nets. Three other NBA players scored at least 20 points in the first half of a game that they did not start this season––Lou Williams, Troy Daniels and Elfrid Payton––but the only other Washington player to do that in the last 15 years was Jordan Crawford in February 2012.

Three 20-point games not enough for Knicks

Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points, Kristaps Porzingis chipped in with 21, and Derrick Rose added 20, but it wasn’t enough in Friday night’s 104–92 loss at New Orleans. It was the fourth game this season in which Anthony, Porzingis, and Rose each scored at least 20 points, but the Knicks won only one of those games––against the Pacers at MSG on December 20.

Pacers on target from the start

The Pacers made their first seven field-goal attempts and went on to defeat the Bulls, 111–101. It was Indiana’s longest field-goal streak to begin a game since November 2015, when the Pacers connected on their first nine shots from the field at Washington.

Korver’s 22 are career best vs. Pistons

Kyle Korver scored a season-high 22 points in the Hawks’ triumph over the Pistons. In his 41 other regular-season games against Detroit––plus five more in the playoffs––Korver had never scored more than 15 points.

76ers win a close one

The 76ers held off the Nuggets for a 124–122 victory. Philadelphia had won only one of its previous 15 games decided by three points or less, tying the fewest wins over 15 one-possession games in NBA history. (One-possession games are defined as final margins of three points or fewer since the NBA instituted the three-point line, and two points or fewer before that.)

Ward extends home streak

Carolina’s Cam Ward made 27 saves in his 3–2 win against the Blackhawks in Raleigh on Friday. Ward is 8–0–1 in his last nine decisions at PNC Arena. It’s the longest current home-ice point streak this season among NHL goaltenders, and the longest single-season streak by a Hurricanes netminder since Ward’s own career-best 12-decision streak (12–0–0) on home ice in 2008–09 (Feb. 20–April 7).

Saros is youngest in franchise history to record shutout

Nashville rookie Juuse Saros posted his first NHL shutout with a 4–0 win against the Blues in St. Louis. The 21-year-old Saros is the youngest goaltender ever to record a shutout for the Predators, breaking the mark set by Marek Mazanec, who was 22 years, 124 days old when he notched his first clean sheet with a 2–0 victory at Detroit on Nov. 19, 2013. Saros’ shutout is only the fourth by a rookie goaltender in an NHL game this season. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray has two and Philadelphia’s Anthony Stolarz has one.