Falcons fly away with easy win in Tampa Bay
• The Falcons offense overwhelmed the Buccaneers in their 43–28 victory at Raymond James Stadium. Atlanta completed two scoring drives in every quarter, posting 10 points in each of the first two quarters, 13 points in the third, and 10 more in the fourth. Thursday’s game marked the first time in Falcons history that they scored at least 10 points in each quarter of a game. Atlanta is also the only NFL team to achieve that feat in the 2016 season. Three teams did so last year – the Patriots, Saints, and Redskins.
Ryan and Jones compiling numbers at record pace
• Matt Ryan completed 25 of 34 pass attempts on the night, bringing his career total to 3133 completions over his nine seasons with the Falcons. That’s the most completed passes for any player over his first nine seasons in NFL history. Ryan surpassed Peyton Manning, who completed 3131 passes in his first nine seasons from 1998 to 2006.
Julio Jones hauled in eight of Ryan’s passes, gaining 111 yards and scoring once. Jones now has 465 receptions in his career, the most by any player within their first 75 NFL games (not to mention that Jones has one more week to pad that total since Thursday was just his 74th game). Anquan Boldin had the previous high, having caught 462 passes through his first 75 NFL contests.
Another rough outing for Buccaneers defense
• The Buccaneers have allowed 1087 yards in their last two games – 461 yards to the Falcons on Thursday and 626 to the Raiders on Sunday. That’s the most yards allowed by Tampa Bay over a two-game span in franchise history. The team’s previous high was 1036 yards allowed over two games in October 1980. The last team to give up that many yards over two games was the Bills in 2012 – Buffalo surrendered 1201 yards to the Patriots and 49ers.
Cavaliers stay perfect thanks to LeBron
• LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 30 points and 12 assists to help Cleveland defeat the Celtics and stay undefeated on the season. The 5–0 start is the best opening to a season for the Cavaliers in 40 years – Cleveland started 8–0 in the 1976–77 campaign. This season also marks the second time that James has been on a team that started a season with a five-game winning streak. The 2011–12 Heat won its first five contests before losing game #6 to the Hawks.
James has averaged 22.4 points and 10.0 assists in the season’s first five games. The only other Cavaliers player to average at least 20 points and 10 assists over the first five games of a season was Mark Price, whose averages stood at 20.0 points and 10.2 assists after the first five games of the 1993–94 campaign. James had never totaled at least 50 assists in the first five games of a season prior to this year, but this is the 13th consecutive season he accumulated at least 100 points through the first five games (James was held to 84 points in the first five games of his rookie season). The only player in NBA history to score 100 points in his team’s first five games in more consecutive seasons was Karl Malone, who achieved that feat for the Jazz in 14 straight seasons (1987–88 to 2000–01). Kobe Bryant also totaled 100 points through five team games in 14 seasons, but he never did so in seven consecutive years.
Durant runs wild versus former team
• In his first game against his former team, Kevin Durant scorched the Thunder for 39 points in 31 minutes, helping the Warriors hand Oklahoma City its first loss of the season. The 39 points scored by Durant are tied for the most ever by a player in his first game against a former team. Two other players totaled exactly 39 points in their first games versus their old clubs: Danny Ainge poured in 39 for the Kings against the Celtics in 1989, and Stephon Marbury scored 39 for the Nets versus the Timberwolves in 2000.
Kings failing to capitalize when Cousins scores 30
• DeMarcus Cousins led all scorers with 33 points but it was not enough for the Kings, who lost 102–94 in Orlando. Sacramento has lost each of its last nine games in which Cousins scored at least 30 points, dating back to February 29 of last season. The only other player in the last 15 seasons to compile a losing streak of that length in his 30-point games was Kobe Bryant – the Lakers lost nine straight of his 30-point games in the 2012–13 season.
Including Thursday’s game, Cousins has scored at least 30 points in a game 62 times, and the Kings are 25–37 (.403) in those contests. Cousins is tied for the lowest won-lost percentage in his 30-point games among all players with at least 50 such games. Orlando Woolridge’s teams also compiled a 25–37 record in his 62 games with 30 or more points.
Monroe owns glass in Milwaukee
• Greg Monroe came off the bench to score 16 points and secure a game-high 16 rebounds in the Bucks’ 125–107 win over the Pacers. Monroe grabbed twice as many rebounds as any other player in the game (Jabari Parker had the next-highest total for either team with eight rebounds). Only one other Bucks player in the last 25 seasons came off the bench in a game and finished with twice as many rebounds as any other player on either team. Larry Sanders achieved that feat for Milwaukee on Dec. 1, 2012 versus the Celtics – Sanders had 16 rebounds off the bench, and no other player on either side totaled more than eight boards.
Nuggets strike gold after falling behind early
• The Nuggets overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat the Timberwolves, 102–99, in Minneapolis. Prior to the win on Thursday, Denver had lost its previous 40 road games in which it trailed at some point by 15 or more points. The Nuggets’ last road win of that kind took place on April 10, 2014 at Oracle Arena – Denver climbed out of a 20-point hole to defeat the Warriors, 100–99.
Nelson helps Nuggets rebound in Minnesota
• Jameer Nelson contributed 14 points off the bench for the Nuggets while also leading the team with seven rebounds and seven assists. Nelson had 412 games in his career in which he led his team (or tied for the team-lead) in assists prior to Thursday, but he had just one game in which he paced his team in rebounds. On Feb. 27, 2005 versus the Heat, Nelson led the Magic with eight rebounds, no small feat considering he shared the court that night with Dwight Howard (seven rebounds).
Ovechkin wins it in overtime
• Alex Ovechkin’s second goal of the game was the overtime winner for the Capitals in their 4–3 victory against the Jets. It was the 18th regular-season overtime goal of Ovechkin’s NHL career, which puts him one behind Jaromir Jagr, the all-time leader with 19 OT goals. Since Ovechkin entered the league in October 2005, the only NHL players besides him who’ve scored more than ten regular-season overtime goals are Daniel Sedin (14) and Marian Gaborik (11).
Another late equalizer for Flyers
• Matt Read scored the tying goal for the Flyers at the 19:02 mark of the third period and Philadelphia went on to beat the Islanders, 3–2, in a shootout on Thursday. The night before, the Flyers beat the Red Wings on a Jakub Voracek goal in overtime after Mark Streit got the Flyers even with 64 seconds remaining in regulation time. This is the only the second time in Flyers history that they scored a tying goal in the final two minutes of the third period in each of two consecutive games. The other time they did that was on Jan. 18–20, 1979, in games against the Sabres and the Canadiens, with the tying goals scored by Mel Bridgman and Bob Dailey.
Crawford posts clean sheet in Chicago
• Corey Crawford posted his second shutout this season by stopping 38 shots on goal in a 4–0 win against the Avalanche in Chicago. Crawford’s 38 saves were the second-most that he’s made in any of his 21 regular-season shutouts in the NHL. He made 39 saves in a 1–0 overtime win versus the Ducks on Oct. 26, 2015.
Another young scorer emerging for Maple Leafs
• Rookie Mitch Marner scored both goals for the Maple Leafs in their 2–1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo. The 19-year-old Marner is the second teenager to produce a multiple-goal game for Toronto this season, after Auston Matthews (also 19), who scored four goals against Ottawa in his NHL debut on opening night (October 12). Matthews and Marner are the first pair of teenagers to notch multi-goal games for the Maple Leafs in the same season since 1986–87, when Wendel Clark had a four-goal game just two weeks before he turned 20 years old and Vincent Damphousse had a pair of two-goal games (one at age 18, the other after he turned 19).
Perfect start for Condon in Ottawa
• Mike Condon, who was traded to Ottawa by the Penguins on Wednesday, made his debut in goal for the Senators on Thursday with a 1–0 victory over the Canucks in which he made 27 saves. Condon is the third goaltender to register a shutout in his first game for the Senators; the others were Patrick Lalime (Oct. 2, 1999 at Philadelphia) and Craig Anderson (Feb. 19, 2011 at Toronto).
Nash nets winner for Rangers
• Rick Nash scored a goal with 1:21 left to play in the third period which snapped a 3–3 tie and J.T. Miller followed that with an empty-netter which clinched a 5–3 win for the Rangers over the Oilers. It was the first time this season that a Rangers player scored a go-ahead goal in the final five minutes of the third period. The Rangers led the NHL with eight such goals last season. Nash’s game-winning goal was his first this season. He scored 24 game-winners over the past four seasons (which were his first four seasons with the Rangers), a total bettered by only three NHL players: Alex Ovechkin (33), Max Pacioretty (27) and Jonathan Toews (25).
Seguin in a helping mood for Stars
• Tyler Seguin tied his career high for assists in one game by setting up four goals in the Stars’ 6–2 win versus the Blues on Thursday. His only other four-assist game in the NHL was also the last one by a Stars player. That came in the Stars’ 6–5 overtime loss to the Flyers on Oct. 18, 2014. Seguin is only the second player in the last six seasons to record four assists in one game against St. Louis. Anze Kopitar racked up four assists in the Kings’ 6–4 win over the Blues on Dec. 18, 2014.
Trocheck tallies two for Panthers
• Vincent Trocheck scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, when the Florida Panthers beat the Devils, 4–3, on Thursday. The last 11 regular-season multiple-goal games by Panthers players have been recorded by 11 different players: Jiri Hudler, Jaromir Jagr, Reilly Smith, Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Rocco Grimaldi in March and April last season, and Shane Harper, Jonathan Marchessault, Colton Scevious and Trocheck this season.
Busy night for Bruins’ Bergeron
• Patrice Bergeron assisted on two goals for the Bruins in their 4–3 shootout win against the Lightning in Tampa. Bergeron was also extremely busy in the faceoff circles on Thursday, taking 39 draws (and winning 21 of them). That’s the most faceoffs that any NHL player has taken in a regular-season game since Dec. 31, 2013, when Eric Staal stood in for 40 draws for the Hurricanes in their overtime victory against the Canadiens. Bergeron is the first Bruins player to face off at least 39 times in a regular-season game since Jan. 10, 2003, when Jozef Stumpel took 41 faceoffs in a Boston regulation loss at Buffalo.
Cubs catchers provide offensive spark in World Series clincher
• The Cubs clinched their first World Series title in 108 years by defeating the Indians on Tuesday, thanks in part to the run production of Chicago’s trio of catchers. Willson Contreras, David Ross, and Miguel Montero each plated an insurance run for the Cubs in their Game 7 victory, marking the only time that three different catchers had at least one RBI for a team in a postseason game.
There has been only one regular season game since 1920, when RBIs were first officially recorded, in which as many as three catchers recorded a RBI for a team. On April 18, 1964, at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C., three Twins players drove in a run as a catcher in a 10-inning win over the Senators. Earl Battey opened the scoring with a two-run single in the first inning before surrendering catching duties to Joe McCabe, who hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning of what was his major-league debut. Jerry Zimmerman entered the game to catch in the eighth inning and drove in the final run for Minnesota that day with a RBI-single in the 10th inning.