Elias Says: Feb. 7, 2017

Big Three leads the way for Cavaliers in OT win over Wizards

There were plenty of heroes for the Cavaliers in their 140–135 overtime victory over the Wizards. LeBron James scored 32 points, capped by a game-tying three-pointer in the last second of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. James also distributed a career-high 17 assists and secured seven rebounds. There have been five games in NBA history in which a player totaled at least 32 points, 17 assists, and seven rebounds, and four of them have been this season! James Harden has had two games this season in which he met those minimums, posting a 34–17–7 (points/assists/rebounds) line against the Lakers on October 26 and a 53–17–16 line versus the Knicks on December 31. The other player to do so this season was Russell Westbrook, who went for 36 points, 17 assists, and 11 rebounds in an overtime win at Denver on November 25. Prior to this season, the only player in NBA history to record at least 32 points, 17 assists, and seven rebounds in a game was Baron Davis, who compiled 36 points, 18 assists, and eight boards for the Warriors on Nov. 16, 2006 in a win over the Kings.

After James fouled out in the first minute of overtime on Monday, it was time for Kyrie Irving to go to work. The Cavs point guard scored 11 points in the overtime period, including a three-pointer with 35 seconds left to give Cleveland the lead for good. Only two other players this season have totaled at least 10 points in an overtime period, and you already know their names from the previous paragraph. Russell Westbrook scored 14 points in overtime of Oklahoma City’s win over the Wizards on November 30, and James Harden scored 10 points in the extra session of Houston’s win at Minneapolis on December 17.

Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 39 points, including 15 in the third quarter alone. In 2014–15, Love’s first season with Cleveland, the Cavs went 7–7 in the 14 games that Love led the team (or tied for the team-lead) in scoring. Since the start of the 2015–16 season, Cleveland is 15–2 (.882) when Love leads the way in points, including a 6–1 record this season.

Wizards starters top 10 again

All five Wizards players in the starting lineup reached double-digits in points against the Cavaliers (Bradley Beal led the team with 41 points). Monday’s game marked the sixth consecutive game for Washington in which all five starters scored 10 or more points. The last team with a streak of that length was the 2004–05 Suns – Phoenix’s five starters scored at least 10 points in six straight games in January 2005.

Pacers survive Thunder despite losing battle of the boards

Russell Westbrook led all players with 27 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists, but his last-second three-point attempt rimmed out for the Thunder, giving the Pacers the 93–90 victory. Indiana prevailed despite being outrebounded in the game by the Thunder, 61 to 37. Entering Monday there had been 20 games this season in which a team outrebounded its opponent by 20 or more boards. In all 20 of those matchups, the team with the higher rebound total claimed victory. The Pacers had lost their last 27 games in which they were outrebounded by 20 or more; their last such win prior to Monday was a one-point victory over the Knicks on Nov. 15, 2003 at Madison Square Garden.

Westbrook grabbing rebounds like few guards before him

Including Monday, Russell Westbrook has recorded 15 or more rebounds in eight games this season (he had six such games in his first eight seasons). Since 1970–71, when the NBA first started listing starting positions on boxscores, there has been only one other player to start at the guard position and grab 15 or more rebounds in at least eight games within a single season. Jerry Sloan had eight games of that kind for the Bulls in 1970–71.

Heat streak continues

The Heat extended their scorching hot winning streak to 11 games by defeating the Timberwolves 115–113 in Minneapolis. Despite owning the second-longest winning streak in the NBA this season (the Warriors won 12 straight in November), Miami sits 11th in the Eastern Conference standings with a 22–30 record. Only one other team in NBA history had a losing record on the season at the time of an 11th straight win. The Suns capped an 11-game winning streak in the 1996–97 season by winning in Sacramento on April 10, 1997 to improve their record to 38–39. Phoenix came up just short of reaching .500 by the end of the season, finishing 40–42 after losing three of its final five contests.

Raptors welcome back DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points in his return to the lineup, helping the Raptors defeat the Clippers, 118–109. DeRozan has scored 30 or more points in 21 games this season. The only Raptors player to compile more 30-point games in a single season is Vince Carter, who reached 30 points in 25 games in the 1999–2000 season and in 30 games in the 2000–01 campaign.

Spurs shooting blanks in fourth quarter

The Spurs slogged through a dreadful finish in their 89–74 loss to the Grizzlies on Monday. San Antonio made just 12 percent of its field goals in the fourth quarter, shooting 3-for-25 from the floor. Thanks to a successful lay-up by Jonathon Simmons in the final seconds, the Spurs dodged the infamy of finishing with the worst field-goal percentage of any non-overtime quarter this season. Even still, only three teams this season have compiled a lower field-goal percentage in a regulation quarter – the Magic (10.0% in the third quarter on Jan. 8 at the Lakers), Bucks (11.1% in the second quarter on Nov. 16 at Atlanta), and Celtics (11.8% in the third quarter on Nov. 18 versus Golden State).

It had been nearly nine years since the last time the Spurs shot 12 percent or worse from the floor in a non-overtime quarter. On Feb. 25, 2008 versus the Hawks, San Antonio made just one field goal out of 17 attempts in the first quarter, good for 5.9 percent. The Spurs overcame that poor start to come back and defeat the Hawks, and, coincidentally, that game’s final score was the same as Monday’s: 89–74.

Davis and Holiday dominate fourth quarter for Pelicans

Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday handled the bulk of the scoring duties for the Pelicans in their 111–106 victory over the Suns. The duo combined for 64 points (34 for Davis, 30 for Holiday), including 27 points in the fourth quarter alone. Holiday scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:04 remaining to give New Orleans the lead for good. Davis totaled 14 points in the period, including six free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the game. There have been only two other duos in Pelicans franchise history to score at least 13 points apiece in the fourth quarter of a game. Chris Paul and Rasual Butler did that on Feb. 28, 2006 at Seattle, as did Ryan Anderson and Roger Mason, Jr. on Feb. 11, 2013 at Detroit.

Great Jazz performance in Atlanta

The Jazz connected on a season-high 61.3 percent of its field-goal attempts in a 120–95 victory over the Hawks on Monday. That’s the second-highest field-goal percentage for any team in a road game this season – the Bucks made 63.4 percent of their shots from the floor two days earlier at Phoenix. The last time Utah made at least 61 percent of its field goals in a road game was back when John Stockton and Karl Malone were running the offense for Jerry Sloan. On Dec. 30, 1997, the Jazz shot 61.5 percent from the floor in its 33-point win against the Nuggets in Denver.

Wade saves the day after Bulls blow big lead

After falling behind by 27 points in the third quarter, the Kings stormed back in the fourth quarter to draw even with the Bulls with 30.8 seconds left in the game. Dwyane Wade put the Bulls back on top with a fadeaway jumper, then stole the Kings’ ensuing inbounds pass and finished with a dunk to ice the game for Chicago. Wade finished with a game-high 31 points, marking his first 30-point performance in a road game since March 4, 2013, when he scored 32 points at Minnesota. In between that contest and Monday’s, Wade had 16 games with at least 30 points, and all of them were done at his home arena (12 in Miami from 2013–14 to 2015–16, four in Chicago this season).

Lakers snap road skid at MSG

The Lakers can celebrate their first road win of 2017, having defeated the Knicks 121–107 at Madison Square Garden. Los Angeles had lost its last 12 road games entering play on Monday. Five teams prior to the Lakers snapped a single-season road losing streak of at least 12 games with a win at the current MSG, the last being the Cavaliers, who snapped a 26-game road losing streak there on March 4, 2011.

Big night for Barton

Will Barton poured in a season-high 31 points, leading the Nuggets to a 110–87 victory over the Mavericks. Barton became the fifth Nuggets player to score 30 points in a game this season. Nikola Jokic has two such games for Denver and three others – Emmanuel Mudiay, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari – have done so once. No other team has had as many as five players record a 30-point game this season. The Nuggets had only four players reach 30 points in a game all of last season – Barton, Gallinari, Mudiay, and Randy Foye.

Historic night for Maple Leafs rookies

Rookies Nikita Soshnikov, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman and William Nylander each scored one goal for the Maple Leafs in their 6–5 overtime loss to the Islanders. Five rookies scoring a goal in one game sets a Toronto franchise record, breaking the old mark of four done several times but not since Oct. 23, 1948, when freshmen Frank Mathers, Les Costello, Fleming Mackell and Robert Dawes each scored once in a 6–1 win against Chicago. Before the Leafs’ quintet did it against the Islanders, the last NHL team to have five rookies score goals in the same game was Calgary in its 10–3 win against the North Stars on March 31, 1984. The Flames’ rookie goal-scorers in that game were Tim Hunter (two goals), Rich Kromm, Al MacInnis, Dan Quinn and Carey Wilson.

Hutton blanks Flyers in Philly

Carter Hutton posted his third shutout in his last six starts with a 2–0 win for the Blues in Philadelphia on Monday. Hutton’s other shutouts in his last half-dozen starts were also posted on the road, at San Jose on January 14 and in Pittsburgh on January 24. The only other NHL goaltender with as many as three shutouts over the same span (Jan. 14 to date) is the Kings’ Peter Budaj. Hutton is the first Blues goaltender to shut out the Flyers in Philadelphia, regular-season or playoffs, since Ernie Wakely won 1–0 at the Spectrum on April 2, 1970.

Young gun wins it for Devils

Devils rookie Pavel Zacha notched his first game-winning goal in the NHL with a tiebreaking tally in the third period which earned New Jersey a 2–1 victory over the Sabres. The 19-year-old Zacha is the first teenager to score a game-winning goal for the Devils since Nov. 20, 1999, when Scott Gomez scored the decider in a 3–1 victory against Ottawa. (Gomez was also 19, though slightly older than Zacha’s age as of Monday.) The last player younger than Zacha to score a game-winner for the Devils was Petr Sykora on March 15, 1996 versus Tampa Bay. Sykora was 19 years old, too, but roughly six months younger than Zacha’s current age.