Gamecocks punch ticket to Final Four
South Carolina overcame a halftime deficit of seven points to beat the Gators and advance to the Final Four, the second time they have trailed by seven points this tournament (Duke led 30–23 in the Gamecocks’ Round of 32 victory). There have now been six games during this year’s tournament in which a team overcame a deficit of at least seven points at the half to win, tied for the most such games in a single tournament ever. The other years that it happened six times were in 1989, 2005, and 2007.
Kentucky knocked out despite monster night by Meeks
Lost amid the drama of North Carolina’s victory over Kentucky was Kennedy Meeks. Meeks pulled down 17 boards, second most during this year’s tournament, and blocked four shots, becoming just the fourth player over the last 10 years to have as many as 17 rebounds and four rejections in an NCAA Tournament game. The others: Cole Aldrich in 2009 for Kansas (20 rebounds and 10 blocks), UNC’s Tyler Zeller in 2012 (22/4), and Domantas Sabonis of Gonzaga last year (17/5).
The last player to have that kind of a game in an Elite Eight game or later was Hakeem Olajuwon who did that in both games during Final Four weekend in 1983. “The Dream” had 22 rebounds and eight blocks against Louisville and then 18 rebounds and seven blocks against NC State in the final.
Klay Day in Oakland
Klay Thompson shook off a rough first quarter to finish with a game-high 31 points in the Warriors’ 106–94 victory over the Grizzlies. Thompson scored just two points in the first quarter while shooting 1-for-5 from the field (including 0-for-3 from three), but he caught fire after that, scoring 29 points in the final three periods buoyed by seven three-pointers in eight attempts. Sunday’s game marked the 20th time that Thompson made at least seven three-pointers in a game, but it was just the second of those games in which he failed to hit a three in the first quarter. Thompson also did that on March 23, 2016 versus the Clippers, hitting seven threes in the contest with none in the first 12 minutes.
Warriors hard to stop when Splash Brothers are firing
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined to hit 12 three-pointers on Sunday, which was four more than the Grizzlies compiled as a team. Including Sunday, the “Splash Brothers” have played in 152 games in which they compiled more three-point field goals than the opposing team as a whole. The Warriors are 133–19 (.875) in those contests, including 20–1 (.952) this season.
Hornets swarm Suns early
The Hornets raced out to a 17–1 lead over the Suns and never looked back in their 120–106 victory on Sunday afternoon. Phoenix also struggled out of the gate in its last game on Friday – by the time the Suns netted their first field goal of the game with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter, the Celtics had already scored 22 points. There have been only two other teams this season to score at least 17 points in a game before their opponent converted a field-goal attempt. The Jazz scored 19 points before the Nuggets’ first successful field goal on November 23, and the Magic totaled 18 points prior to the Blazers’ making a field goal on January 13.
Muted encore for Booker
Devin Booker scored a team-high 23 points on Sunday, two days after piling up a franchise-record 70 points at Boston. Booker’s 23 points were the fewest points scored by an NBA player in his next regular-season game immediately after he had scored 70-or-more points. The previous low was 27 points by both David Thompson (1978) and David Robinson (1994), though in each of those cases, the 70-point game came in the final game of a given regular season, and the 27-point game came in the opening game of the next season. The previous low for a game played in the same regular season was 30 points by Kobe Bryant in 2006, following his 81-point game. (The most points by a player in the game immediately following a 70-point game was 62 points, by Wilt Chamberlain on Jan. 14, 1962, one day after he had scored 73 points.)
Kings crown Clippers with crazy comeback
The Kings outscored the Clippers 22–3 over the final five minutes of the fourth quarter to cap a stunning 98–97 victory for Sacramento in Los Angeles. The 18-point hole overcome by the Kings was the largest fourth-quarter deficit for Sacramento in a win since a 19-point turnaround in the fourth quarter on Dec. 21, 2009 at Chicago. In the last 20 seasons (1997–98 to date), only one other NBA team prior to the Kings on Sunday won a game in which it trailed by at least 18 points in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. On Dec. 3, 2012, the Blazers erased an 18-point deficit in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter at Charlotte before prevailing in overtime.
Cauley-Stein wins it for Kings
Willie Cauley-Stein’s putback with 1.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter capped the furious comeback for the Kings against the Clippers. Cauley-Stein finished the game with just eight points, making him the fourth player this season to record a game-winning field goal in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime while totaling fewer than 10 points for the entire contest. The three others with such a game this season are the Bucks’ John Henson (seven points on Oct. 29 versus Brooklyn), the Nets’ Randy Foye (three points on Dec. 26 against Charlotte), and the 76ers’ T.J. McConnell (eight points on Jan. 11 versus New York).
Another quick 30–15 statline is historic feat for Davis
Anthony Davis did not need much time to post some huge numbers in the Pelicans’ 115–90 blowout win over the Nuggets. Davis scored 31 points and secured 15 rebounds despite playing just 28 minutes and 23 seconds in Denver. Sunday’s game marked the second time this season that Davis compiled at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game with less than 30 minutes played; he also did that at New York on January 9, totaling 40 points and 18 rebounds while playing just under 29 minutes.
Davis is the first NBA player since minutes were first tracked in the 1951–52 campaign to produce at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a game while playing fewer than 30 minutes multiple times within a single season. In fact, only one other player in that span of 66 seasons had multiple games of that kind in his NBA career. That player was Len Chappell, who averaged 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in nine seasons in the NBA. Chappell, who was named an All Star in the 1963–64 season, produced 31 points and 15 rebounds in 27 minutes for the Syracuse Nationals in a win over the Knicks in 1963 and needed just 20 minutes to compile 30 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons in a road victory over the SuperSonics in 1967.
Williams blasts off bench to lead Rockets
Lou Williams scored a team-high 31 points in just under 31 minutes off the bench to lead the Rockets to a 137–125 victory over the Thunder. Sunday’s game marked the second time in just 15 games with Houston that Williams has provided 30-plus points off the bench; he scored 30 points as a sub in a big win over the Lakers on March 15. Prior to Williams, no Rockets player had a pair of 30-point games off the bench in the same season since the 2000–01 campaign, when Cuttino Mobley did it.
Russell Westbrook notched his 36th triple-double of the season against the Rockets, but he also finished with a plus/minus rating of minus-14, lowest of any player on either team. Sunday’s game marked the 20th time this season that a player finished a game with a triple-double and a plus/minus rating of less than zero. Westbrook has accounted for a league-high nine of those games.
Lopez sets Nets record in victory
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 23 points in Brooklyn’s 107–92 victory over the Hawks in Atlanta. Lopez made seven field goals on the afternoon, giving him 3982 field goals in his NBA career, all with the Nets. That’s the most successful field goals for any Nets player since the franchise joined the NBA in the 1976–77 season. Lopez passed Buck Williams, who made 3981 field goals in eight seasons with the New Jersey Nets. Williams first became the Nets’ leader in field goals made in the NBA on Nov. 9, 1984, when he connected on his 1587th field goal to pass John Williamson. Williams still owns the records for most points (10,440), rebounds (7576), and games played (635) by a Nets player in the team’s NBA tenure.
Butler lives to serve
Jimmy Butler distributed a career-high 14 assists to go along with 20 points to lead the Bulls to victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee. The only other Bulls player in the last five seasons to total that many points and assists in a game was Pau Gasol, who racked up 22 points and 14 assists against the Blazers on Feb. 27, 2016.
Heat benchmates reach 20
A pair of Heat reserves both reached the 20-point plateau in Miami’s loss to the Celtics on Sunday. Tyler Johnson led the Heat with 24 points, while James Johnson contributed 20 points along with a team-high six assists. Johnson and Johnson – no relation – are the first Heat duo to score 20 or more points off the bench in a game in just over eight years. The last pair to achieve that feat for Miami were Michael Beasley (28 points) and Daequan Cook (27 points) on March 4, 2009 versus the Suns.
Red Wings can finally celebrate an OT win at home
Andreas Athanasiou scored the first overtime goal of his NHL career to earn the Red Wings a 3–2 win versus the Wild at Joe Louis Arena. It was the sixth overtime goal scored by a Detroit player this season but the first on home ice. Before Sunday’s victory, the Red Wings had been 0–6 this season at “the Joe” in games decided by an overtime goal. There is now only one NHL team that hasn’t scored an overtime goal on home ice this season. That’s the Rangers, who have not scored (or allowed) an overtime goal in the four games at Madison Square Garden this season which were tied at the end of regulation time.
Seguin nets OT winner for Stars
Tyler Seguin reached the 70-point mark for the fourth time in his four seasons with the Stars when he scored the overtime goal which gave Dallas a 2–1 victory over the Devils. Seguin, who tallied 84, 77 and 73 points in his three previous seasons with the club, is the first player to register at least four consecutive 70-point seasons for the Stars since Mike Modano had a five-year streak from 1998–99 through 2002–03. Jamie Benn, who assisted on Seguin’s overtime goal, needs three more points this season to extend his streak of 70-point seasons for the Stars to four.
Nash cashes in another goal
Rick Nash extended his goal streak to a season-high four games when he scored to give the Rangers a 1–0 lead in their game at Anaheim. Nash has recorded at least one goal-scoring streak of four games or longer in each of his five seasons with the Rangers (a five-game streak in both 2012–13 and 2013–14, three four-game streaks in 2014–15, and one four-game streak in each of the last two seasons). He’s the first player in Rangers history to produce a goal streak of at least four games in each of five consecutive seasons.
Wheeler motoring up Jets’ assists list
Blake Wheeler assisted on both goals by the Winnipeg Jets in their 2–1 win over the Canucks. Wheeler’s two assists were his 250th and 251st during his seven seasons with the Thrashers/Jets, moving him past Toby Enstrom (249) into sole possession of third place on the franchise’s career assist leaders list, behind Ilya Kovalchuk (287) and Slava Kozlov (271).
Giroux joins elite group of Flyers
Claude Giroux reached the 40-assist mark for the fourth consecutive season and the sixth time in his ten seasons with the Flyers when he tallied the first of his two assists in Philadelphia’s 6–2 win in Pittsburgh. Only four other players produced at least six seasons of 40 or more assists for the Flyers: Bobby Clarke (13), Brian Propp (9), Eric Lindros (6) and Mark Recchi (6). Giroux’s pair of assists on Sunday night give him a total of 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) in the 16 games he’s played against the Penguins in Pittsburgh over the last seven seasons.