Anderson picks up Harden, Houston picks up victory
Despite a season-low 10 points by James Harden, the Rockets had little trouble in defeating the Kings, 105–83. Ryan Anderson led Houston with 25 points, marking his second straight game leading the team in scoring (he scored 27 points on Sunday at Indiana). Anderson is the fifth player in the last five seasons to score at least 25 points in consecutive games for the Rockets. Jeremy Lin (2013) and Trevor Ariza (2016) each compiled a two-game streak of that kind, and Dwight Howard fashioned three multi-game streaks in his three seasons (2013–14 to 2015–16) with Houston. The fifth player is, of course, Harden, who compiled more than 50 streaks of multiple 25-point games over that five-year span, including a franchise-record 14 consecutive games of 25 or more points in his first season with the team (2012–13).
Harden repeats leaderboard feat for second straight month
James Harden’s subpar performance on Tuesday was still enough to help him clinch the highest point total (481) and assist total (177) in the NBA for the month of January. Harden also led all players in total points and assists in December (481 points and 204 assists), making him the first player since Nate Archibald to lead the league in points and assists in consecutive calendar months of 10 or more games within a single season. Archibald led the NBA in those two categories in four consecutive months during the 1972–73 season (November, December, January, and February).
Nobody beats the Wizards at home
The Wizards capped a perfect month at home by defeating the Knicks, 117–101, at Verizon Center. Washington lost six of its first 11 home games to open the season, but the team has won 15 consecutive games at Verizon Center since then, including a spotless 7–0 record in January. It had been nearly 11 years since the last time the Wizards posted a home record of 7–0 or better in a calendar month; Washington also went 7–0 at home in February 2006.
Gortat on target for Wizards
Marcin Gortat was one of three Wizards player to produce a double-double against the Knicks on Tuesday night. Gortat tied for the team-lead with 10 rebounds and contributed 15 points with perfect precision, shooting 7-for-7 from the field as well as making his lone free-throw attempt. Prior to Tuesday, the only Wizards player this season to attempt at least seven shots from the floor in a game without a miss was Gortat himself, who finished 9-for-9 against the Timberwolves on January 6. Gortat is the fourth player in franchise history to shoot 7-for-7 or better from the field in multiple games for Washington, joining Wes Unseld, Mitchell Butler, and Brendan Haywood. Gortat is the only member of that select group with two such games in a single season.
Big night for Spurs’ starting forwards
Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for more than half of the Spurs points in San Antonio’s 108–94 triumph over the Thunder. Leonard led the way with 36 points while Aldridge contributed 25 points. Including Tuesday, the Spurs are 9–0 over the last two seasons in games that both Leonard and Aldridge scored at least 25 points.
Admiral feat achieved by Westbrook
Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 27 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Thunder’s loss to the Spurs. In the month of January, the Thunder point guard averaged 30.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, nearly mirroring his averages from the previous month (30.6 PPG and 10.6 REB/G in December). Prior to Westbrook, the last player who averaged at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in two or more consecutive calendar months of 10 or more games within one season was David Robinson, who did so in February, March, and April of 1994.
Lovely line by Lowry
Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors in their 108–106 overtime win over the Pelicans. Lowry scored 33 points and dished out 10 assists, more than twice as many as any other player in the game (Terrence Jones had the second-highest assist total with four). Only one player in Raptors history prior to Lowry totaled at least 30 points in a game while distributing twice as many assists as any other player on either team. On Jan. 21, 1998, Damon Stoudamire piled up 36 points, including a go-ahead field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, and 11 assists in Toronto’s one-point win over the Kings.
Unusual trail blazed by Portland trio in win over Hornets
Three Trail Blazers players reached double-figures in rebounds in Portland’s 115–98 victory over the Hornets on Tuesday. Mason Plumlee led the way with 11 boards, while both Noah Vonleh and Al-Farouq Aminu grabbed 10 rebounds. None of that trio contributed much offense, however, as all three players failed to reach double-digits in points. In the last 25 seasons (1992–93 to date), there was only one other game in which as many as three Blazers players finished with 10 or more rebounds and fewer than 10 points. On Jan. 9, 2004 at Chicago, three players secured at least 10 rebounds for Portland – Vladimir Stepania (12), Dale Davis (10), Ruben Patterson (10) – and all three scored fewer than 10 points.
Rookie Sebastian Aho produced his first NHL hat trick when he scored three goals in the Hurricanes’ 5–1 win against the Flyers. Aho’s hat trick is the third by a Hurricanes rookie since the Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997. The others were exactly ten months apart in 2001 in home games versus the Atlanta Thrashers, by Shane Willis (Feb. 21) and Erik Cole (Dec. 21). The 19-year-old Aho is the first teenager ever to record a hat trick for the Hartford/Carolina franchise. The club’s youngest hat trickster before Aho is now the team’s general manager, Ron Francis, who was five days past his 20th birthday when he notched his first NHL hat trick by scoring all three of the Whalers’ goals in a 7–3 loss to the Nordiques on March 6, 1983.
Hornqvist burns former team with pair of goals
Patric Hornqvist, who spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with Nashville, scored two goals for the Penguins in their 4–2 win over the Predators. Hornqvist is only the second former Nashville player to produce a multiple-goal game against the Predators. The first was Scottie Upshall, with a three-goal hat trick for the Coyotes versus Nashville on Jan. 21, 2010 in Phoenix. Upshall, who’s now with St. Louis, began his NHL career with the Predators at age 19 in October 2002.
What a year for Scheifele
Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler each tallied one goal and two assists for the Jets as they recorded a 5–3 win against the Blues in St. Louis. Scheifele’s career has really taken off over the past 12 months. Through January 31 last year he had produced points at a rate of slightly more than one every two games during his three-plus seasons in the NHL (108 points in 194 games), but since Feb. 1, 2016 he’s racked up 88 points in 83 games for the Jets (40 goals, 48 assists). That ranks him third among NHL players in regular-season points over the past 12 months, behind Sidney Crosby (100) and Connor McDavid (95).
Another hat trick for Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty recorded his second hat trick of the season by scoring three goals in the Canadiens’ 5–2 win against the Sabres. It was the sixth hat trick of Pacioretty’s NHL career, which ties the Connecticut native with Winnipeg’s Drew Stafford for the most hat tricks among active U.S.-born players. Phil Kessel and Zach Parise are next on the list with five each.
Marchand caps stellar month
Brad Marchand tallied two assists for the Bruins as they closed out the month with a 4–3 win over the Lightning in Tampa. Marchand led all NHL players with 11 goals scored in January, and his total of 20 points (in 14 games) for the month tied him with Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov for the league high. Marchand’s January point total was the highest by a Bruins player in any calendar month since David Krejci racked up 21 points in December 2008.
Stars come out early versus Toronto
The Stars outscored Toronto, 5–1, in the first period and went on to record a 6–3 win over the Maple Leafs. This was the first time since the team moved to Dallas in 1993 that they scored as many as five goals in the first period of a game. The Minnesota North Stars scored at least five goals in the first 20 minutes of a regular-season game eight times, including five times against the Kings. Before Tuesday, the most recent five-goal opening period for the Stars franchise in a regular-season game was at Los Angeles on Dec. 21, 1988. Minnesota led, 5–3, at the end of the first period in that game but ended up losing to the Kings, 8–6.
Greiss ends January on a high note
Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss extended his winning streak to three games (tying his season high) with a 3–2 victory against the Capitals in Brooklyn. Greiss allowed seven goals in his loss at Carolina on January 14, but he allowed only eight goals while posting a 5–0–1 record in the six games he played over the remainder of the month. With an overall 6–2–3 mark in the 11 games he played in January, Greiss set his NHL career high for wins in a calendar month. His previous high was in March 2016 when he posted a 5–5–1 record in 12 games for the Islanders.
Jones helps Blue Jackets prevail on Broadway
Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones scored two goals in one game for the first time in his four seasons in the NHL as Columbus jumped out to a 6–0 lead and then held on to record a 6–4 win over the Rangers in New York. Jones is the first Blue Jackets defenseman to score two goals in one game this season, and he’s only the second Columbus d-man to register a two-goal game on the road over the last eight seasons. The other multiple-goal road game since 2009–10 for a Blue Jackets backliner was by James Wisniewski in a 4–3 Columbus victory at Philadelphia on Nov. 14, 2014.
Rare feat by rookie Matheson
Rookie defenseman Michael Matheson scored two goals for the Panthers in their 6–5 win over the Senators. Matheson, who entered play on Tuesday with three goals to his credit in 52 games in the NHL, is only the third rookie defenseman to produce a multiple-goal game for the Panthers in their 23-season history. The others were Joey Tetarenko in 2001 (March 9 vs. Columbus, two goals) and Dmitry Kulikov in 2009 (Nov. 27, two goals).
Kopitar crowns Coyotes
Anze Kopitar had a hand in all of the Kings’ goals in their 3–2 win over the Coyotes in Glendale. Kopitar scored the first goal for the visitors and then assisted on goals by Jordan Nolan and Jake Muzzin. Kopitar has scored more points versus the Coyotes (62, in 60 games) than any other team during his 11 seasons in the NHL. Kopitar ranks second in points scored against the Coyotes since he entered the NHL in October 2006, behind Joe Thornton (69).
Palmieri nets pair for Devils in Detroit
Kyle Palmieri scored two goals, including the first shorthanded goal of his NHL career, to help lead the Devils to a 4–3 win against the Red Wings in Detroit. His multiple-goal game was only the second by a Devils player at Joe Louis Arena over the last 18 seasons. The other one was a two-goal performance by Adam Henrique in a 7–4 New Jersey loss on March 7, 2014. Before Palmieri, the last Devils player to register a multi-goal game in a regular-season win for New Jersey at “the Joe” was Tom Chorske with two goals in a 6–3 victory on Jan. 31, 1992.
Wild night for rookie Graovac
Minnesota rookie Tyler Graovac notched his first two-goal game in the NHL when the Wild beat the Oilers in Edmonton, 5–2. Over the last seven seasons there have been only three other multiple-goal games for Minnesota rookies: by Matt Kassian in 2012 (March 1 at Montreal, two goals), Justin Fontaine in 2014 (Jan. 9 at Phoenix, three goals) and Matt Dumba in 2015 (March 3 vs. Ottawa, two goals).