Elias Says: Dec. 31, 2017

LBJ’s birthday: 29 points but another loss at Utah

LeBron James marked his birthday on Saturday with a road game against the Jazz, and although he scored 29 points the Cavaliers fell to the Jazz. James has lost the last seven road games he played against Utah, a streak that dates back to March 2012 when he was with Miami. That is the second-longest road losing streak of his NBA career against a particular opponent. He lost eight straight games as a visitor against the Heat from 2003 to 2007.

James’ career scoring average on his birthday dropped to 32.9 points per game (230 points in seven games) which remains the highest in NBA history among players who appeared in at least three games on their birthday. Dominique Wilkins, who averaged 32.7 points per game on his birthday, stands second in that category.

Curry scores 38 points after 25-day absence

Stephen Curry, who had not played since December 4, made a triumphant return, scoring 38 points in the Warriors’ victory over the Grizzlies. Curry’s scoring total matched the third-highest in NBA history by a player who had gone at least 25 days since his previous game that season.

Bob McAdoo did not play for 28 straight days in the fall of 1978, missing 12 Knicks games over that period because of an injured toe. McAdoo returned on December 17, 1978, but not as a starter. He came off the bench that afternoon to score 41 points in New York’s victory over the Hawks.

Nate Robinson scored 41 points for the Knicks in an overtime win against the Hawks on January 1, 2010. Robinson had been relegated to the end of the bench by coach Mike D’Antoni, and did not play in the prior 30 days, racking up 14 straight DNPs.

Two players––Alonzo Mourning for the Heat in January 1996 and Glenn Robinson with the Bucks in January 2002––returned to score 38 points after not playing for at least 25 consecutive days since their previous game. In each of those two cases, the player was out of action for 27 days.

Porzingis rallies Knicks down the stretch

Kristaps Porzingis scored seven points in the final two minutes to help rally the Knicks to a 105–103 victory over the Pelicans. That is a career high for the most points that Porzingis ever scored in the final two minutes of an NBA game. It was the 14th 30-plus-points game of Porzingis’s NBA career, but only the second in a one-possession victory. The other came in a 35-point effort against the Pistons in November 2016, a game the Knicks won, 105–102.

Johnson scores 22 points in one quarter

The Heat trailed the Magic by 16 points at halftime, but Tyler Johnson scored 22 points in the third quarter to ignite Miami’s victory. Over the last four seasons, the only other undrafted NBA players to score at least 20 points in one quarter were Sean Kilpatrick (20 for the Nets against the Clippers in November 2016) and Troy Daniels (22 for the Grizzlies versus the Thunder in December 2016).

Drummond da-man on da-boards

Andre Drummond pulled down 10 rebounds in the first quarter and finished with 21 boards in the Pistons’ victory over the Spurs. It was the third time this season that an NBA player recorded at least 10 rebounds over the first 12 minutes of a game; Drummond himself had 10 rebounds through one period at Boston on November 27, as did DeAndre Jordan versus the Suns on December 20.

Drummond grabbed 1190 rebounds in calendar year 2017, the highest total for any NBA player. This also marks the third consecutive calendar year in which he secured 1100 or more rebounds; he had 1238 in 2015 and 1123 in 2016. Drummond is the first NBA player to corral 1100 or more rebounds in each of three straight years since Dennis Rodman did that from 1991 to 1993.

Rask’s 40th shutout

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask recorded his second shutout of the season and the 40th shutout of his NHL career with a 5–0 win in Ottawa on Saturday. Rask, who is from Finland, is the 10th goaltender in NHL history born outside North America to register 40 or more shutouts. Three other goaltenders on that list are also currently playing in the NHL: Henrik Lundqvist (63 shutouts), Pekka Rinne (46) and Jaroslav Halak (41).

Reimer blanks Canadiens

The Panthers extended their winning streak to five games with a 2–0 win against the Canadiens on Saturday. James Reimer has been in goal for the Panthers in all five games of their winning streak, allowing a total of six goals and no more than two goals in any single game. The only other time in Panthers history that a goaltender won five consecutive team games in one season while giving up two or fewer goals in each game was when John Vanbiesbrouck notched wins in five straight Florida games in November 1995.

Three defensemen score for Capitals

Defensemen Christian Djoos, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen each scored a goal for the Capitals in their 5–2 win against the Devils. Over the last six seasons, the only other game in which at least three different defensemen scored goals for the Capitals was their 7–3 victory against the Avalanche on Nov. 21, 2015, when they tied a franchise record with four defensemen tallying a goal: Carlson, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov and Karl Alzner.

Saros marks anniversary of first shutout with another

Nashville’s Juuse Saros became the first rookie goaltender in the NHL to record two shutouts this season when he posted a 3–0 win against the Wild. Saros’ shutout on Saturday came exactly one year after he recorded the first shutout of his NHL career, a 4–0 victory at St. Louis on Dec. 30, 2016. This is the first time in franchise history that a Predators goaltender registered a shutout on the same date in each of two consecutive years.