Elias Says: April 9, 2017

Lillard’s record-setting night

Damian Lillard scored 59 points, a single-game record for a Trail Blazers player, in the team’s 101-86 triumph over the Jazz. Lillard scored 58.4 percent of Portland’s points on Saturday night. Only six other NBA players have produced as high a percentage of their team’s points in a single game as did Lillard. George Mikan did it in seven games (all before the shot clock was introduced in 1954); Wilt Chamberlain, three games (including his 100-point game, when he produced 59.2 percent of the Warriors’ points); Michael Jordan, twice; Kobe Bryant, twice; David Robinson; and Paul Pierce.

Lillard started the game with a bang, producing 26 points in the first quarter, including 22 straight Trail Blazers points at one stretch of that quarter. His first-quarter total was the second highest in the opening period of an NBA game this season; back on the night before Thanksgiving, Kevin Love scored 34 points over the first 12 minutes, an NBA record for the first quarter.

20k for J.J.

Joe Johnson scored 13 points for the Jazz at Portland on Saturday night, lifting his career total to 20,006 points. Johnson became the 42nd player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points, and he joins six other active players in the club—Dirk Nowitzki (30,228), LeBron James (28,755), Paul Pierce (26,387), Vince Carter (24,544), Carmelo Anthony (24,139) and Dwyane Wade (21,297).

Thomas, in 4th quarter, leads Celtics to victory

Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 32 points in the Celtics’ 121-114 victory at Charlotte in a game that had playoff implications for both teams. Charlotte led, 104-97, with less than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, just after Thomas returned to the court for the final time. Thomas went on to score nine points within a stretch of four and a half minutes, during which Boston took the lead for good.

Thomas lifted his scoring average for the season to 29.18 points per game, fractionally shy of James Harden, who holds second place in the NBA with 29.23 points per contest. But Thomas leads the league with 677 points scored in the fourth quarter, the highest single-season total by any NBA player since Kobe Bryant scored 715 fourth-quarter points in the 2005-06 season.

Tough loss for Bulls

The boxscore of Saturday game in Brooklyn showed that the Bulls finished with a higher field-goal percentage, a higher three-point shooting percentage, a higher free-throw percentage and more rebounds than the Nets. With all that, and with a nine-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Chicago dropped a 107-106 decision that might imperil the team’s playoff chances.

It was the Bulls’ third loss this season in a game in which they led by at least nine points within the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. (They lost like that to the Hawks on January 25 and at Toronto on March 21.) More to the point, coming into Saturday’s games, NBA teams had won 96.3 percent of games this season – 237 of 246 – in which they finished with higher percentages than their opponent in all three shooting categories and also won the battle of the boards.

George stays hot as Pacers earn key win

Paul George, with a game-high 37, points led the Pacers to a 127-112 victory in Orlando, as the Pacers gained a game on the Bulls in the fight to make the playoffs. George has been terrific down the stretch: He has now scored 310 points in Indiana’s last 10 games, with totals of 43, 35 and three games of 37 during that stretch. It’s the most points by any Pacers player over a 10-game span since George himself scored 312 points over 10 games in November and December of 2015. Since the Pacers entered the NBA in 1976, they have had only three other players who have averaged 31 points per game over a 10-game span: Billy Knight in 1976-77, Jermaine O’Neal in 2004-05 and Danny Granger in 2008-09.

Whiteside stars as Heat pulls even with Bulls

Hassan Whiteside contributed 30 points and 12 rebounds to the Heat’s 106-103 win at Washington, as Miami pulled even with Chicago for current hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Each of those teams has two games remaining, both at home. It was Whiteside’s fourth 30/10 (points/rebounds) game this season, the highest single-season total for a Heat player since LeBron James had six in the 2012-13 season.

Doc Rivers ties Clippers’ record for wins

The Clippers won their fifth consecutive game, a 98-87 verdict in San Antonio, and paired with the Jazz’s loss later on Saturday night at Portland, Doc Rivers and Co. pulled even with Utah for fourth place in the Western Conference standings. The victory was the 215th for Rivers since joining the Clippers in 2013, tying the all-time record for head-coaching wins since the franchise was born in Buffalo in 1970. Mike Dunleavy won 215 games with the Clippers from 2003 to 2010, but while Dunleavy’s won-lost record with the team was 215-326, Doc’s mark is 215-111.

Durant leads Warriors in minutes in first game back

Kevin Durant returned to action and scored the first points of the game on an impressive dunk, sending the Warriors toward a 123-101 win over the Pelicans. Durant wound up playing 31 minutes, the most playing time on Saturday night for any Warriors player.

It was the Warriors’ 35th home win of the season, their third straight season with at least 35 home wins. (Golden State went 39-2 at home in each of the previous two seasons.) The last NBA team to annex at least 35 home wins in each of three successive seasons was Chicago from 1995-96 to 1997-98, in Michael Jordan’s final three seasons with the team. But the Warriors are only halfway to the NBA record for consecutive seasons with 35 home wins; the Lakers did it six seasons in a row from 1984-85 to 1989-90.

Bucks win in Philly to reach playoffs & complete odd season series

The Bucks will return to the playoffs after a year’s absence. Milwaukee earned a playoff spot with its 90-82 victory at Philadelphia, as the Bucks and the 76ers split their season series in an unusual manner—the visiting team won every game. In the NBA this season, there has been only one other team-vs.-team series completed in which the visiting team has won every game. That happened in the four games played between the Mavericks and the Trail Blazers.

A first: Kershaw allows back-to-back HRs

Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra all reached Clayton Kershaw for home runs, with Reynolds and Parra going back-to-back in the sixth inning of the Rockies’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Dodgers. That matched the most homers that Kershaw has ever yielded in a big-league game; he allowed three to the Rockies in a 2012 game at Coors Field, and gave up three to the Padres four years ago at Dodger Stadium. In addition, Saturday’s game marked the first time in his major-league career that Kershaw has allowed back-to-back homers. In fact, Kershaw had pitched 1772 innings in the majors before allowing home runs to consecutive batters, the longest run to start a career since Greg Maddux went 2806 innings from the start of his career until he permitted consecutive round-trippers to Gary Sheffield and Eric Karros of the Dodgers in 1998.

Trout victimizes Mariners again

Mike Trout’s two-run homer snapped a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning and sent the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the visiting Mariners. It was the 22nd time that Trout has victimized Seattle with a home run, tying his highest total against any team (he also has connected 22 times against Oakland). Remarkably, Trout has hit 14 of those home runs against Seattle since the start of the 2015 season, the second-most homers that any major-league player has hit against an opponent over that span. Nolan Arenado has homered 15 times against the Giants.

Guthrie’s Nats debut is one for the books—and not in a good way

Jeremy Guthrie, who was making his Nationals debut while observing his 38th birthday, allowed 10 runs in the first inning in the Nationals’ 17-3 loss to the Phillies on Saturday night. Only two others pitchers in modern major-league history (since 1900) allowed 10 or more runs in a game played on their birthday: Sloppy Thurston of the White Sox allowed 11 runs in a game in Detroit on June 2, 1925, his 26th birthday; and Al Demaree of the Braves allowed 10 runs in a game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8, 1919, which was his 35th birthday. But neither of those pitchers allowed 10 or more runs in an inning.

The last major-league pitcher to allow 10 or more runs in the first inning of a game was Scott Feldman for the Rangers against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Aug. 12, 2008. Feldman somehow avoided a loss in that game, a 19-17 win for the Red Sox.

Another comeback win for O’s

Hyun Soo Kim’s single off Dellin Betances in the seventh inning capped a comeback from a three-run deficit in the Orioles’ 5-4 win over the Yankees, less than 24 hours after Baltimore overcame a four-run deficit in a win over the Bronx Bombers. It was the fourth time that the Orioles have won back-to-back games, both against the Yankees, by overcoming a deficit of at least three runs in each game since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954. They also had back-to-back victories like that in August 1962, September 1982 and June 1993.

Zimmermann is Mr. April

Jordan Zimmermann pitched six solid innings in the Tigers’ win over the Red Sox. Zimmermann is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA over his last seven April starts dating back to 2015. The only other pitchers who have won each of their last seven or more April starts are Jake Arrieta (won last eight) and Rick Porcello (seven).

Garcia off to a hot start

Avisail Garcia hit a triple and a homer in the White Sox win over the Twins. Garcia has eight hits and knocked in four runs in his first four games of the season. The only White Sox player over the last 15 seasons with at least eight hits and four runs batted in over the team’s first four games of a season was A.J. Pierzysnki in 2008 (nine hits, seven RBIs).

Diaz belts two

Aledmys Diaz hit two homers and knocked in four runs in the Cardinals' win over the Reds. Diaz is the fourth Cardinals player since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920 with at least two homers and four runs batted in in a game in which he started at shortstop. The other Cardinals to do that were Leo Durocher (1935), Edgar Renteria (2003) and Jhonny Peralta (2014).

Walkoff walks are back!

Brad Miller drew a bases-loaded walk in the last of the 11th inning—yes, the old walkoff walk—in the Rays’ 3-2 win over the Blue Jays. It was the first walkoff walk of the major-league season (there were seven in the majors last season) and the sixth in Tampa Bay’s 20 seasons in the majors. It was the first walkoff RBI of any type in Miller’s major-league career, and he’s the first Rays player whose first walkoff RBI came via a walk.

Graveman takes no-no into 7th

Kendall Graveman lost a no-hit bid when Mike Napoli hit a home run with two outs in the seventh inning in the A’s 6-1 win over the Rangers. It was the third no-hit bid of at least six and two-thirds innings by an Oakland pitcher over the last six seasons and all three have come against the Rangers. Jarrod Parker threw seven no-hit innings against Texas on June 4, 2012 (broken up by Michael Young’s single); and Sonny Gray threw seven no-hit innings against the Rangers on April 6, 2015 (the bid ended when Ryan Rua singled).

Diamondbacks’ bats are producing

Yasmany Tomas, Brandon Drury and Jeremy Hazelbaker each had three hits in the Diamondbacks’ 11-2 win over the Indians. Arizona has scored 45 runs in its first six games this season, the most it has scored in the first six games in any season in team’s 20-year history. The Diamondbacks’ previous high for runs scored over the first six games of a season was 41 in both 2005 and 2010.

Margot is an extra-base-hit machine

Manuel Margot rapped out two doubles, scored a run and knocked in a run, in the Padres' 2-1 win over the Giants. Margot has five extra-base hits in six games this season (two home runs, three doubles). That matches the most extra-base hits for any Padres rookie over his first six games of a season. That record was set by Broderick Perkins in 1978 (one home run, four doubles). And, just in case you were wondering, the most extra-base hits that Tony Gwynn ever had over his first six games of a season was three, done four times (1990, 1992, 1994 and 1996).

Conley is a burgeoning Mets killer

Adam Conley allowed only one hit, a solo home run to Lucas Duda, over his five innings against the Mets on Saturday night, earning credit for the Marlins’ 8-1 victory. Conley lifted his record against the Mets to 2-0, with a 1.00 ERA, in his five starts. Five other pitchers were undefeated with an ERA no higher than 1.00 in their first five starts against the Mets: Jack Sanford (5-0, 0.68 ERA), Jim Bunning (5-0, 0.80), Juan Marichal (4-0, 0.88), Gary Nolan (4-0, 0.86), and Doug Fister (5-0, 0.82).

Cubs make good in the clutch

The Cubs rapped out eight hits in 19 at-bats with runners in scoring position in their 11-6 win in Milwaukee. Joe Maddon’s crew had entered the game with only four hits in 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position over their first four games of the season; that .160 batting average had ranked 14th in the National League.

Leafs make playoffs; Matthews & Brown reach milestones

Connor Brown became the third Maple Leafs rookie to reach the 20-goal mark this season when he scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:48 left to play in the third period as Toronto clinched a playoff berth with its 5-3 win over the Penguins. Fellow rookie Auston Matthews wrapped up the scoring in the game when he put in his 40th goal of the season with just seconds remaining. William Nylander, the third member of that Toronto rookie trio, has scored 22 goals this season (though he didn’t get one on Saturday). The Maple Leafs are the first NHL team to have three rookies each score at least 20 goals in the same season since 1992-93, when the original Winnipeg Jets tied the record of four 20-goal freshmen. Teemu Selanne led the way for the Jets, with a league-record total for a rookie of 76 goals; their other 20-goal scorers were Keith Tkachuk (28), Evgeny Davydov (28) and Alex Zhamnov (25).

Matthews became the first U.S.-born rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals in one season and he’s only the second rookie from any country to reach the 40-goal mark in one of the last 23 NHL seasons. The other rookie to do that since 1993-94 was Alex Ovechkin, who scored 52 goals in 2005-06, his first season in the NHL.

The Maple Leafs became the fifth Canadian team to qualify for this year’s NHL playoffs, just one year after all seven Canadian teams missed the playoffs. It’s just the third of the last 20 seasons in which five Canadian teams reached the playoffs; it happened in 2003-04 and 2014-15.

Galchenyuk ties record with 5th OT goal of season

Alex Galchenyuk tied an NHL record when scored his fifth overtime goal of the season to send the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Galchenyuk is the third player in NHL history to score five overtime goals in one season, matching the record set by Steven Stamkos in 2011-12 and matched by Jonathan Toews in 2015-16. Galchenyuk’s game-winner was the second overtime goal that he scored in Detroit this season. He also scored in overtime in the Canadiens’ 2-1 win at “the Joe” on November 26. In fact, Galchenyuk has scored more overtime goals in Detroit this season than has the entire Red Wings team (one, by Andreas Athaniosiou on March 26 against Minnesota).

Wheeler’s goal is first of its kind in more than a decade

Blake Wheeler’s shorthanded goal with 45 seconds remaining in the third period broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Jets a 2-1 win over the Predators. Wheeler is the first NHL player to score a go-ahead shorthanded goal in the final minute of regulation time since Nov. 12, 2005, when the Flyers’ Mike Knuble snapped a 4-4 deadlock at the 19:56 mark of the third period in a game against the Panthers.

Skinner gets 2 more though ’Canes lose

Jeff Skinner scored twice for the Hurricanes in their 5-4 shootout loss to the Blues. Skinner has been the hottest goal-scorer in the league over the last few weeks, having racked up 14 goals over his last 13 games with four two-goal games during that stretch (March 18 to date). Only two other NHL players have averaged more than one goal per game over a 13-game span this season: the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane (14 goals from Feb. 2 through March 4) and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (14 goals from Feb. 27 through March 23). Skinner is only the second player to score as many as 14 goals over a 13-game span in one season for the Hurricanes since the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997; Jeff O’Neill did it in January 2001.

Ex-Blue Jackets beat current Blue Jackets

Jakub Voracek reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth time in his six seasons with the Flyers when he scored what proved to be the winning goal in Philadelphia’s 4–2 victory over Columbus. Voracek, who played his first three NHL seasons for the Blue Jackets before they traded him to the Flyers in June 2011, is the first former Columbus player to score a game-winning goal against the Blue Jackets since Scottie Upshall did so for St. Louis on Nov. 15, 2015. The winning goaltender for the Flyers, Steve Mason, also began his NHL career with Columbus. This is only the fourth time that he has beaten his original NHL team since they traded him to Philadelphia in April 2013. Saturday’s loss was the first ever for Columbus in its 16 seasons in the NHL in which both the winning goaltender and the player who scored the winning goal were both former Blue Jackets.

Williams: 100 points for four different teams

Justin Williams scored one goal and assisted on another in the Capitals’ 3–1 win at Boston. Williams has now produced exactly 100 points over his two seasons with Washington, after exceeding the century mark in points with each of the three other NHL teams he played for (Philadelphia 115, Carolina 201, Los Angeles 266). The only other active players who have racked up at least 100 points with four different NHL teams are Jaromir Jagr (Pittsburgh, Washington, Rangers, Florida) and Michael Cammalleri (Los Angeles, Montreal, Calgary, New Jersey).

Lee scores another pair

Anders Lee scored a pair of goals for the Islanders in their 4-2 win over the Devils in Newark. It was Lee’s eighth multiple-goal game this season, tying for second most in the NHL, one behind the league leader, Boston’s Brad Marchand. Lee’s total of eight multi-goal games is the highest in one season by an Islanders player since Mark Parrish produced eight multiple-goal games in the 2001-02 season.

Kings give their fans something to remember

The Kings didn’t qualify for the playoffs, but in their last home game this season they gave the fans in Los Angeles a final thrill with a late come-from-behind win over the Blackhawks. The Kings trailed, 2-1, heading into the final minute of the third period, but Dustin Brown’s goal at the 19:05 mark tied the score at 2-2 and Drew Doughty scored 27 seconds into overtime. The only other time that the Kings tied a regular-season game with a goal in the last minute of the third period and won it with a goal in the first minute of overtime was just over a year ago. In that game at Calgary on April 5, 2016, Kris Versteeg scored the tying goal for the Kings with 36 seconds remaining in the third period and Jeff Carter scored the winner 40 seconds into overtime.