Thomas scores 20 points in 19 straight games
Isaiah Thomas scored 29 points and dished out a career-high 15 assists in the Celtics’ 115-104 win over the Jazz. Thomas has scored 20 or more points in each of his last 19 games, the longest such streak of his NBA career. Only two other players in Celtics history scored at least 20 points in 19 consecutive games: John Havlicek, who had several streaks of this type (including a team-record 40-game streak in the 1971-72 season) and Kevin McHale (30-game streak from April to December in 1986).
Over the last three seasons (since 2014-15), two other players had such a streak of this length: Kevin Durant (72-game streak from November 2015 to November 2016) and James Harden (25-game run from March to November 2016).
Raptors hear the Spurs’ roar
The Spurs, led by Kawhi Leonard’s 25 points, routed the Raptors, 110-82, on Tuesday night. San Antonio improved to 28-7 on the season, just one game off the pace from their start through 35 games last season (29-6). They won at least 28 of their first 35 games of a season two other times in franchise history, and both were in the Gregg Popovich-era (28-7 in 2004-05 season and 29-6 in 2010-11 season).
Tuesday night’s win was the Spurs’ 50th victory by a margin of at least 25 points over the last six seasons (since 2011-12). Only three other teams have even half as many wins of this type over that span: the Clippers (36), Warriors (35), and Thunder (27).
Randle gets third triple-double in Lakers’ win
Julius Randle had 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists to earn his third triple-double in the 115th game of his NBA career as the Lakers downed the Grizzlies, 116-102. Over the last 20 years, four other players had three triple-doubles through their first 115-or-fewer games: Lamar Odom (earned his third triple-double in his 63rd game), Michael Carter-Williams (79th), Chris Paul (94th), and Hassan Whiteside (105th).
Covington and Embiid help 76ers squeak out victory
Robert Covington converted on a lay-up from an inbounds alley-oop pass with under a second remaining to give the 76ers a 93-91 victory over the Timberwolves on Tuesday night. Philadelphia has won back-to-back games, both by a two-point margin (124-122 win over the Nuggets on December 30). Over the last four seasons (since 2013-14 season), the 76ers had won consecutive games, each by three or fewer points, only one other time (January 9 and 10, 2015).
Rookie Joel Embiid scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Philadelphia’s win. Over his last four games, Embiid has 100 points and 29 rebounds. Only one other 76ers rookie had at least 100 points and 25 rebounds over a four-game span over the last 50 years: Allen Iverson in November 1996 (101 points, 26 rebounds).
George starts strong and finishes strong
Paul George scored 32 points, including 10 in the first quarter and 12 in the fourth quarter, in the Pacers’ 121-116 win over the Pistons on Tuesday. That’s the seventh game in which George scored at least 10 points in both the first and fourth quarters since the start of the 2015-16 season; that’s tied with DeMarcus Cousins for the third-most games of this type over that span (behind Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, with eight each).
Rebounding duel between Chandler and Reed
A pair of players dominated the boards in the Heat-Suns matchup on Tuesday, with Willie Reed grabbing 18 of Miami’s 43 total rebounds (41.9%) and Tyson Chandler with 20 of the Suns’ 49 rebounds (40.8%). Since the 2010-11 season, there had been only one other game in which a player on each team accounted for at least 40 percent of his team’s total rebounds, and Chandler was involved in that one as well. On March 3, 2014, Chandler had 18 of the Knicks’ 40 rebounds (45%) in their game against the Pistons, with Andre Drummond grabbing 26 of Detroit’s 54 boards (48.1%).
Nearly perfect from the free-throw line
The Kings and Nuggets combined to shoot 30-for-31 (96.8%) from the free-throw line in Sacramento’s win on Tuesday, with Kosta Koufos having the lone miss in the second quarter. Over the last three seasons (since 2014-15), there were only two other games in which the combined free-throw percentage was as high as this Kings-Nuggets matchup. On February 11, 2015, the Lakers and Trail Blazers went 33-for-34 (97.1%) and on October 25 earlier this season, the Jazz and Blazers were a perfect 38-for-38.
It was raining three’s in Mavs’ win
The Mavs went 17-for-32 (53.1%) from the three-point line (with Seth Curry leading the way, going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc) as they defeated the Wizards, 113-105. That’s the 18th game this season in which Dallas had at least 30 three-point field-goal attempts, but it’s the first of those games in which the team made at least half of those attempts. The Mavericks’ previous high in the 2016-17 campaign was 46.9% (15-for-32) against the Pacers in a December 9 win.
Overtime is Ovi’s time
Alex Ovechkin scored 22 seconds into overtime to earn the Capitals a 6–5 win over the Maple Leafs in Washington. It was Ovechkin’s 19th regular-season overtime goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the NHL career record. There were 11 different goal scorers in Tuesday’s game in D.C., tying the high for most goals in an NHL game over the last three seasons in which no player scored more than one goal. There have been two other 11-goal games of that kind since 2014–15, both in the first three months of 2016: the Kings’ 9–2 win at Boston on February 9 and the Lightning’s 7–4 home-ice victory against the Islanders on March 25.
No regrets for Leafs and Jets on top draft picks
Patrik Laine notched his 20th goal in the NHL when he scored into an empty net late in the third period to wrap up a 6–4 victory for the Jets in Tampa. Laine was the second player selected in the 2016 Entry Draft. The top pick last year, the Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews, reached the 20-goal mark on New Year’s Day when he scored the overtime winner against the Red Wings in the NHL’s Centennial Classic. We haven’t even reached the halfway mark in the 2016–17 campaign, yet this is the first NHL season in which each of the top two picks from the most recent Entry Draft scored 20 or more goals since 1978–79, when Bobby Smith (the #1 pick in 1978) scored 30 goals for the North Stars and Ryan Walter (the #2 selection) tallied 28 goals for the Capitals. In fact, the top three picks in the 1978 draft all scored more than 20 goals in the 1978–79 season, with Wayne Babych (#3) racking up 27 goals for the Blues.
Blue Jackets win 16th game in a row, closing in on NHL record
Cam Atkinson, William Karlsson and Nick Foligno scored the goals for the Blue Jackets as they extended their winning streak to 16 games with a 3–1 victory against the Oilers on Tuesday. It’s the second-longest winning streak in NHL history, behind the Penguins’ run of 17 consecutive wins late in the 1992–93 season. But it should be noted that two of Columbus’ last 16 wins were shootout victories (Dec. 3 at Arizona, the third win in the streak, and Dec. 20 vs. the Kings, which was win #10.) The Blue Jackets’ longest streak of consecutive non-shootout wins in 2016–17 is only six games (done twice, including their last six wins), which isn’t even one of the five longest such streaks in the NHL this season (Minnesota: 9, Montreal and Philadelphia: 8, Chicago and Pittsburgh: 7).
Weber scores in return to Nashville
Shea Weber, facing the Predators for the first time since the blockbuster trade last June which sent him to Montreal in exchange for P.K. Subban, scored the first goal for the Canadiens in their 2–1 overtime win at Nashville. Weber’s goal was his 10th for Montreal, making this the ninth season in which he’s reached double-figures in goals. (He did that eight times in his 11 seasons with the Predators.) That ties him with Zdeno Chara (also nine) for the most seasons with 10 or more goals among active NHL defensemen. Weber is just the third defenseman in the NHL’s modern era (i.e., since 1943–44) to score at least 10 goals in his first season with the Canadiens. The others were rookie Tom Kurvers in 1984–85 (10 goals) and journeyman veteran Marc-Andre Bergeron in 2009–10 (13 goals).
Cammalleri reaches 100 points with the Devils
Michael Cammalleri ended his career-worst 14-game goal drought when he scored what proved to be the game-winning goal for the Devils in their 3–1 victory over the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Cammalleri, who also assisted on New Jersey’s first goal, has produced 101 points in his three seasons with the Devils. He also exceeded the century mark in points for each of the three other teams he’s played for in the NHL: the Kings (205 points), Canadiens (119) and Flames (178). The only other current NHL player who has recorded at least 100 points for as many as four different teams is Jaromir Jagr (Penguins 1079, Capitals 201, Rangers 319, Panthers 107).
Nilsson wins a pair against the Rangers
Sabres backup goaltender Anders Nilsson beat the Rangers for the second time in two games against them this season with a 4–1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Nilsson, who beat Alain Vigneault’s team by a 4–3 score in Buffalo on December 1, is one of only two goaltenders with two wins versus the Rangers this season, along with Penguins rookie Matt Murray. Nilsson is the first Buffalo netminder to win at least two games versus the Rangers within one season since Ryan Miller went 3–1–0 in four games against the Broadway Blueshirts in 2009–10.
Pearson ends it in OT
Tanner Pearson scored 58 seconds into overtime as the Kings defeated the Sharks, 2-1. It was Pearson’s third OT goal of his career, with the two previous goals coming on February 12 against the Rangers and February 20 versus the Predators. Only one player has more overtime goals since the start of February last year; that’s Pearson’s teammate Jeff Carter, with four.