Westbrook’s fifth game with 45 points this season
Russell Westbrook scored 45 points, including 30 in the second half, in the Thunder’s 109-98 win over the Mavs. It is the fifth game this season in which Westbrook scored at least 45 points (and Thursday night’s matchup was Oklahoma City’s 47th game of the season). That is the most games with 45-or-more points for a player within his team’s first 50 games of a season since Kobe Bryant had eight such games in the Lakers’ first 50 games of the 2005-06 season.
Westbrook has scored at least 30 points in a half twice before in his NBA career, having scored 34 first-half points at Minnesota on April 15, 2015 and netted 33 second-half points on October 28, 2016 against the Suns.
Mavs struggle in the second of back-to-backs
The Mavericks, coming off a win over the Knicks on Wednesday, lost to the Thunder on Thursday night. Dallas is 0-9 in the second of games played on consecutive days this season. The only other team without a win in games of this type in the 2016-17 campaign is the Nets (0-7). Brooklyn has lost each of its last 16 such games, the longest current streak in the NBA. The Mavs’ current streak is at nine, second-longest in the league, after having won their very last game of this type last season (on April 11, 2016 at Utah).
Jokic falls just short of triple-double
Starting center Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists in the Nuggets’ win over the Suns. Since the 2005-06 season, only two other starting centers matched each of those totals in a game. The Knicks’ David Lee had 37 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists on April 2, 2010 at Golden State, and the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins did so twice (March 26, 2014 vs. the Knicks with 32 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists; January 13, 2015 vs. the Mavs with 32 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists).
Put it in the books: Another 20-point game for Booker
Devin Booker scored 24 points in the Suns’ loss to the Nuggets on Thursday. Booker has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 11 games. Over the last 25 years, only two other Suns players had such a streak of this length: Charles Barkley (several streaks, with the longest being 15 games; he had two 15-game streaks in the 1992-93 season) and Amar'e Stoudemire (also many streaks, with an 18-game run the longest in March/April 2008).
Indiana is making its three-pointers count
The Pacers went 10-for-18 from three-point range (55.6%), including 3-for-4 from both Paul George and CJ Miles, in Indiana’s 109-103 victory over the Timberwolves. That is the fifth game this season in which the Pacers made more than 50 percent of their three-point attempts; they had four such games all of last season. Only four teams have more than five games of this type in the 2016-17 campaign: the Spurs (seven), Bucks (six), Jazz (six), and Raptors (six).
Dubnyk owns the West
Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk recorded his 13th win in his last 13 games against Western Conference opponents with a 5–1 victory against St. Louis on Thursday. Dubnyk’s 13-game winning streak in intraconference games is the longest of its kind this season by an NHL goaltender, and it matches the 13-game streak posted by the Capitals’ Braden Holtby last season. Since the NHL split into two conferences in 1974–75, the only goaltender to post a single-season intraconference winning streak of more than 13 decisions is Jaroslav Halak, who won 15 in a row for the Islanders against Eastern Conference foes in 2014–15.
Marchand reaches 20 goals again
Brad Marchand reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth consecutive season and the sixth time in total during his NHL career when he scored the first of his two goals in the Bruins’ 4–3 win over the Penguins. Marchand, who was Boston’s third-round pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, is the fourth player who made his NHL debut with the Bruins during the expansion era (i.e., since 1967–68) and has produced at least six 20-goal seasons for the club. The others are Ray Bourque (9), Patrice Bergeron (7) and Keith Crowder (6).
Kuznetsov is on fire
Evgeny Kuznetsov produced his first multiple-goal game of the season when he scored two goals for the Capitals in their 5–2 win at New Jersey. Kuznetsov has scored a team-high 18 points (in 14 games) for Washington in January, one ahead of both Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (17 points each this month). Kuznetsov’s January point total is a new career high for any calendar month and the highest by a Capitals player in any month since Backstrom racked up 19 points in December 2013.
Rookie nets the winner late in the third
Rookie Roman Lyubimov scored with 2:37 left to play in the third period to break a 1–1 tie and that goal was the game-winner for the Flyers in their 2–1 victory over the Maple Leafs. Lyubimov is only the second Flyers rookie in the last 16 seasons to score a tiebreaking goal during the final three minutes of regulation time. The other Philadelphia freshman to do that since 2000–01 was Matt Read on Nov. 17, 2011 against the Coyotes. Read’s goal came at the 19:41 mark of the third period.
Gaudreau ends drought with OT winner
Johnny Gaudreau ended his 11-game goal drought when he scored the overtime goal, which gave the Flames a 3–2 victory in Ottawa on Thursday. Gaudreau’s just-ended goalless streak was the second-longest of his three-year NHL career. He had a 15-game dry spell for Calgary as a rookie during the 2014–15 season (Jan. 29–March 3).
Ladd lights the lamp twice
Andrew Ladd scored two goals to lead the Islanders to a 3–1 win over the Canadiens in Brooklyn. It was Ladd’s second two-goal game since he signed with the Islanders as a free agent last summer. He also scored twice in the Islanders’ victory against the Capitals at Barclays Center on December 27. Ladd, who has played for four teams in his 12 seasons in the NHL, has scored two or more goals in a game 24 times during his career and 19 of those multiple-goal games have come on home ice (1 of 2 for Carolina, 4 of 5 for Chicago, 12 of 15 for Atlanta/Winnipeg, 2 of 2 for the Islanders).
Hurricanes fail to get through Budaj’s wall
Kings goaltender Peter Budaj posted his fifth shutout of the season with a 3–0 win against the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Budaj, who is now tied for the second-most shutouts by an NHL goaltender in the 2016–17 campaign (one behind league-leader Braden Holtby), has recorded as many shutouts this season as in any two of his 10 other seasons in the NHL. He notched three shutouts in 2006–07, and two in both 2005–06 and 2008–09 (all for Colorado).
Jets’ late charge fuels them to victory
The Jets, who had squandered an early 2–0 lead, trailed 3–2 with time running down in the third period of their game at Chicago, but goals by Andrew Copp (at 15:57), Bryan Little (at 16:29) and Mark Scheifele (at 17:57 into an empty net) earned Winnipeg a 5–3 victory over the Blackhawks. The only other game in Thrashers/Jets franchise history that they won in regulation time after trailing in the final five minutes of the third period was Atlanta’s 3–2 home-ice victory against the Panthers on March 19, 2004. Goals by Andy Sutton (at 18:09) and Ilya Kovalchuk (at 19:36) turned a 2–1 deficit into a win for the Thrashers in that game.
Panthers power through the Lightning
Jonathan Marchessault’s power play goal in overtime earned the Florida Panthers a 2–1 win against their cross-state rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Marchessault’s overtime power play goal was only the third one scored in the last nine seasons by a Panthers player. The others were by defenseman Dennis Wideman in 2011 (Jan. 11 vs. Washington) and Brad Boyes in 2014 (Oct. 21 at Colorado).
Teenager nets the winner
Lawson Crouse scored the game-winning goal for the Coyotes in their 3–0 victory against the Canucks. The 19-year-old Crouse has scored only three goals in 44 games this season, his first in the NHL, but two of his three goals have been game-winners. He is the first teenager to score at least two game-winning goals in one season for the Coyotes since 2008–09, when Mikkel Boedker and Kyle Turris each scored three.
Sharp with second two-goal game this season
Patrick Sharp scored a pair of goals for the Stars in their 4–3 win against the Sabres. It was the second two-goal game this season for Sharp, who has played in only 24 games due to symptoms from a concussion. (His other two-goal game was against the Rangers on January 17.) Though he has played in less than half of his team’s games this season, Sharp’s two multiple-goal performances tie him with Tyler Seguin for the Stars’ team high.