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Elias Says: March 5, 2017

Rockets overcome subpar shooting by starting forwards

James Harden’s 33 points and 11 assists helped the Rockets overcome poor shooting performances by starting forwards Ryan Anderson (1-for-10) and Trevor Ariza (2-for-8) in their 123–108 win over the visiting Grizzlies. No team had scored as many as 120 points in a game in which its starting forwards combined for as low a field-goal percentage (16.7%) on at least 15 shots since the Pacers beat the Nuggets, 145–125 on March 7, 1991. Indiana’s LaSalle Thompson (0-for-9) and Mike Sanders (4-for-15) combined on an identical .167 percentage from the floor in that game.

Leonard’s outstanding all-around performance leads San Antonio

Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and registered six steals in the Spurs’ 97–90 home win over the Timberwolves. No San Antonio player had put up at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals in a game since David Robinson went for 35 points, 16 rebounds, and five steals at Atlanta on Jan. 8, 1991.

Bucks follow poor first quarter with big second period

After being held to 12 points in the first quarter, the Bucks rallied for 41 in the second quarter of their 101–94 home win over the Raptors. Milwaukee’s total of 53 first-half points was the highest by any team that scored no more than a dozen in the opening 12 minutes since Nov. 27, 1962. On that date, the Chicago Zephyrs scored 12 points in the first quarter and 44 in the second, in a 115–107 victory over Wilt Chamberlain’s Warriors in San Francisco.

Cavs can’t win without their Big Three

With Kevin Love sidelined by a knee injury and LeBron James and Kyrie Irving both resting, the Cavaliers lost 120–92 at Miami. Since Love and James joined the team in 2014, Cleveland is 0–10 during the regular season when at least two of their “Big Three” are out of the lineup. That includes an 0–4 record when all three of their stars are out.

A four-quarter effort by Detroit

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 26 points and three of his teammates scored at least 20 in the Pistons’ 136–106 win at Philadelphia. Detroit put up 33 points in the first quarter, 34 in the second, 39 in the third, and 30 in the fourth. The last time the Pistons scored at least 30 points in all four quarters of a road game was on Nov. 14, 1987 at Cleveland. Isiah Thomas scored 32 points in a 128–113 Detroit victory.

Jokic’s hot shooting not enough to save Nuggets

Nikola Jokic scored 31 points, making 13 of 15 shots from the floor (87%) in the Nuggets’ 112-102 home loss to the Hornets. Only one other Denver player has ever scored 30+ points while shooting at least 85% from the field in an NBA game. That was Kenneth Faried (30 pts, 12-for-14) against Sacramento on April 12, 2015. Faried was also the last NBA player on any team with a performance like that.

Crawford scores 25 in 25:52

Jamal Crawford came off the bench to lead all players with 25 points in the Clippers’ 101–91 win at Chicago. It was the 61st time that Crawford scored at least 25 points in a game he did not start, the highest total by any active player. But Crawford spent just 25 minutes, 52 seconds on the court Saturday night, the fourth-lowest amount of time he’s played in any of his 25-point games off the bench.

Three Portland players go 15/5/5

Three Trail Blazers players – CJ McCollum (31 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists), Damian Lillard (19 pts, 5 reb, 11 ast), and Jusuf Nurkic (17 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast) – had at least 30 points, five rebounds, and five assists in Portland’s 130–116 home win over Brooklyn. It’s the second time this season that a trio of Blazers players did that; McCollum, Lillard, and Mason Plumlee were the three on Nov. 30 against the Pacers. All other NBA teams have combined for just two games in which three players have had 15/5/5 points/rebounds/assists (Chicago on Dec. 2 and Golden State on Feb. 1.)

Kane remains hot

Patrick Kane scored the first goal and the last goal in the Blackhawks’ 5–3 win at Nashville. Kane has scored 14 goals over his last 13 games and nine goals in his last five games. He’s the first Blackhawks player to score at least nine goals over a five-game span since Al Secord tallied 10 goals in a five-game stretch in November 1981. Kane’s five-game goal total is the second-highest by a NHL player in the last four seasons, bettered only by the Predators’ Filip Forsberg, who scored 10 goals in Nashville’s five games last month (Feb. 23–28.)

Weber scores 15 for the ninth time

Shea Weber reached the 15-goal mark for the ninth time in his 12 seasons in the NHL when he scored the first goal in the Canadiens’ 4–1 win against the Rangers. Weber, who was traded to Montreal last summer after playing 11 seasons for the Nashville Predators, has matched the highest total of 15-goal seasons by any defenseman who made his made his NHL debut in the last 30 years. The other defensemen with nine 15-goal seasons who debuted since 1987 are Hall of Famers Brian Leetch and Nicklas Lidstrom.

Stafford comes out shooting for Boston

Drew Stafford, making his debut for the Bruins, assisted on the winning goal and recorded a game-high seven shots on goal in Boston’s 3–2 victory over the Devils. Stafford, who was traded to Boston by Winnipeg on Wednesday, is the first player to rack up at least seven shots on goal in his first regular-season game for the Bruins since Al Iafrate put eight shots on target (and scored two goals) against the Nordiques on March 22, 1994. Stafford did not register more than four shots on goal in any of the 40 games he played for the Jets this season.

Werenski reaches 30 assists

Rookie Zach Werenski notched his 29th and 30th assists of the season by assisting on both goals scored by the Blue Jackets in their loss to the Senators. The 19-year-old Werenski is only the third NHL defenseman since 1988–89 to record 30 or more assists in one season as a teenager. The others are Bryan Berard for the 1996–97 Islanders and Cam Fowler for the 2010–11 Ducks.

Klingberg’s late goal is the winner for Dallas

John Klingberg’s goal with 1:07 remaining in the third period snapped a 1–1 tie and earned the Stars a 2–1 win over the Panthers in Florida. This is the third time since the team moved to Dallas from Minnesota in 1993 that a Stars defenseman scored a tiebreaking goal in the final two minutes of regulation time. The other Dallas defensemen to score go-ahead goals in the last two minutes are Grant Ledyard (Jan. 5, 1996 vs. Winnipeg) and Philippe Boucher (Oct. 20, 2006 vs. Chicago.)

Wheeler posts second straight three-point game

Blake Wheeler tallied one goal and two assists in the Jets’ 6–1 win over the Avalanche on Saturday, after recording two goals and one assist in Winnipeg’s 3–0 victory against the Blues on Friday. This is the first time that a Jets player scored at least three points in each of two consecutive team games since April 16–18, 2013, when Wheeler and Andrew Ladd both did so. Wheeler is the first player to produce three-point games on consecutive days for the Thrashers/Jets franchise since Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk on Nov. 12–13, 2009.

Point helps Lightning earn two points in the standings

Rookie Brayden Point scored the decisive goal in the shootout which earned the Lightning a 2–1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo. Point, who made his NHL debut in Tampa Bay’s first game this season, has scored on five of his seven shootout attempts for the Lightning. His five shootout goals are a single-season record for a Tampa Bay rookie and the most that any rookie has scored in one season since Evgeny Kuznetsov scored five for Washington in 2014–15. The only rookie besides Point with more than two shootout goals this season is Toronto’s Mitch Marner with three.