Elias Says: January 11, 2018

Durant’s milestone night spoiled by Lou Williams

Kevin Durant scored 40 points, including the 20,000th point of his NBA career, on Wednesday night against the Clippers. Of the 43 previous players to reach the “20K” milestone, only LeBron James (28 years old) hit that mark at a younger age than 29-year-old Durant. Kobe Bryant, who is now third-youngest of that group, was 19 days older than Durant at the time of his 20,000th point in 2007. No player had scored his 20,000th point in a Warriors uniform before Durant, and only one other player scored 40 or more points in his milestone game. On Jan. 2, 1966, Wilt Chamberlain produced his 20,000th point of his NBA career amidst a 50-point performance against the Knicks.

Durant and the Warriors were the story in the first two quarters, but Lou Williams flipped the script after halftime, scoring 27 points in the third period to put the Clippers ahead to stay. Williams, who made eight field goals and eight free throws in the quarter, scored his team’s final 18 points of the period, making him the third player this season to score as many as 18 consecutive points for his team in a game. Rodney Hood has the longest such streak this season, having scored 19 straight points for the Jazz on November 18 at Orlando, while LeBron James notched 18 consecutive points for the Cavaliers on November 22 versus the Nets.

Williams scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to finish the game with a cool 50, making him the fourth player to score at least 50 points in a game for the Clippers franchise and the first since Charles Smith scored 52 for Los Angeles in 1990. The Clippers’ streak of 2190 regular-season games without a 50-point scorer was the longest active streak of its kind in the NBA. The Grizzlies now hold that distinction with a streak of 1796 games, encompassing the franchise’s entire history (the team’s single-game scoring record is 45 points by Mike Miller). For the record, the Clippers were well shy of the all-time record for the longest streak without a 50-point scorer. Walt Wesley scored 50 points for the Cavaliers on Feb. 19, 1971, the 69th game in Cleveland’s inaugural season, but no player reached that plateau for the Cavs in any of Cleveland’s next 2750 games. That streak was halted by LeBron James, who exploded for 56 points on March 20, 2005 at Toronto.

One last nugget: Lou became the fifth player with the surname Williams to score 50 or more points in a NBA game. The previous four Williamses each had one game of that kind, led by Deron Williams’s 57-point performance for the Nets in 2012. The rest of the group consists of Freeman Williams (51 points in 1980), Ray Williams (52 points in 1982), and Mo Williams (52 points in 2015).

Antetokounmpo leads the way in Bucks’ win

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 26 points in the Bucks’ 110–103 victory over the Magic. The “Greek Freak” made 10 of 15 shots from the floor, marking the eighth time this season that he scored at least 25 points in a game while also hitting at least two-thirds of his field-goal attempts. That’s the most games of that kind for any player this season, and it’s the most such games for a Bucks player in a single season since Marques Johnson fashioned eight such games in the 1982–83 campaign. The only player in Bucks franchise history to score 25 or more points and make at least two-thirds of his field-goal attempts in more than eight games within a season was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who achieved that feat 14 times in his first season with Milwaukee in 1969–70, 23 times in his second season, 15 times in his third season, and 14 times in his fourth.

Rockets figuring out how to win without Harden

Two coins add up to 30 cents and one coin is not a nickel. What are they? A quarter... and a nickel (one’s not a nickel, the other one is). Speaking of puzzlers, two Rockets players scored 30 points on Wednesday, but neither was James Harden. That’s right – Chris Paul led Houston with 37 points, and Eric Gordon chipped in with 30 points, helping the Rockets defeat the Trail Blazers, 121–112. Wednesday’s game marked the fifth time since 1971–72, when the Rockets relocated from San Diego to Houston, that both of the team’s starting guards scored at least 30 points in the same regular-season game. And Harden, who has scored 30 points in 174 games for the Rockets, was not involved in any of those contests. Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley had three such games for Houston, two in 2002 and one in 2003, and Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks did so once in 2010.

Westbrook falls short of outscoring teammates

A huge game by Russell Westbrook was not enough for the Thunder, who lost 104–88 to the Timberwolves in Minneapolis on Wednesday. Westbrook’s 38 points were the most scored by a player this season in a game in which his team finished with fewer than 90 points. Damian Lillard held that mark until Wednesday, having scored 36 of the Blazers’ 85 points on October 30 versus the Raptors. No other player in Thunder/Sonics history scored as many as 38 points in a game that his team scored fewer than 90 points, though Westbrook himself had achieved that feat once before. The Thunder point guard piled up 38 points in a 106–89 loss at Portland to open the 2014–15 season.

Drummond solo sounds good to Pistons

Andre Drummond finished work early on Wednesday night at Brooklyn, sitting out the fourth quarter after racking up 22 points and 20 rebounds in the first three quarters. Drummond became the third player in the last 10 seasons to produce at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game without logging any time on the court in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard (20 points, 20 rebounds) did that on Jan. 30, 2011 versus the Cavaliers, as did Hassan Whiteside (30 points, 20 rebounds) on Feb. 4, 2017 against the 76ers.

Drummond did most of his damage in the opening half, totaling 18 points and 13 rebounds in the first two quarters. Including Wednesday, Drummond has totaled at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in a single half 10 times this season, the most such instances of any player. DeMarcus Cousins is next on that list, having produced 10 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in nine halves this season.

Wall has big night in losing effort

John Wall scored a season-high 35 points to go along with a team-high 11 assists in the Wizards’ loss to the Jazz on Wednesday. Wall’s effort marked the 16th time that he totaled at least 30 points and 10 assists in a game for Washington, the most such contests in franchise history. The NBA’s all-time leader in that category is Oscar Robertson, who had 30 or more points and 10 or more assists in 230 games. At Wall’s current pace of two 30-point/10-assist games per season, he would tie “The Big O” sometime in the 2124–25 NBA season.

Markkanen = next MJ?

Lauri Markkanen led the Bulls with 33 points and 10 rebounds in their double-overtime win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Markkanen’s eight three-pointers tied the most made by a Bulls rookie in a game, matching the mark set by Chris Duhon in 2005. Markkanen became the first rookie player on any team – and yes that includes the Knicks – to produce at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game at Madison Square Garden since Billy Owens put up 30 and 10 for the Warriors at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” in 1992. Prior to Markkanen, the only other Bulls rookie to score at least 30 points in a game at MSG was, naturally, Michael Jordan, who scored 33 points in his Broadway debut in November 1984 and 42 points in his encore performance at New York later that season.

A perfectly imperfect game for Howard

The “Hack-a-Howard” strategy worked like a charm for the Mavericks in their 115–111 victory over the Hornets. Dwight Howard connected on all five of his field-goal attempts for Charlotte on Wednesday, but he made just five of 18 shots from the free-throw line. Only one other player in the shot-clock era missed at least 10 foul shots in a game while finishing with a perfect field-goal percentage. That player also did so in a home loss to the Mavericks – Shaquille O’Neal went 7-for-7 from the field and 11-for-24 from the charity stripe on Dec. 12, 2003 for the Lakers against Dallas.

Assists aplenty for Gasol

Marc Gasol stuffed the box score in the Grizzlies’ 105–102 win over the Pelicans. Neither Gasol’s 21 points or 10 rebounds were enough to lead Memphis, but his seven assists stood as the highest total on either team on Wednesday. That would be an impressive feat for any starting center, but it’s old hat for Gasol who has been the outright leader in assists in 35 games of his NBA career. The only other active player to compile at least 35 games in which he started at center and finished with more assists than any other player on both teams is Joakim Noah, who has also achieved that feat 35 times.

Heat go eight for eight at Indiana

The Heat shared the scoring in its 114–106 victory over the Pacers. All eight players that entered the game for Miami scored at least eight points (Goran Dragic led the team with 20). Wednesday’s game marked the second Heat game this season in which every player that participated for Miami finished with eight or more points. On December 15, nine players checked in for the Heat in a win at Charlotte, and all nine finished with at least eight points. No other NBA team has a game of that kind this season, and Miami had only two such games in franchise history prior to this season, one in 1989 and the other in 2005, both losses.

Anderson has a busy night in goal for Senators

Craig Anderson stopped 45 of 48 shots en route to leading the Senators to a 4–3 road win against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. It is the 40th time that Anderson has won a game in which he faced at least 40 shots on goal. The only active goaltender with more such wins is Roberto Luongo, who has 56 such wins on his resume. Kari Lehtonen (38) ranks third on that list.

Wednesday’s game also marked the 250th NHL win for Anderson, the third-highest total among current U.S.-born goaltenders, behind only Ryan Miller (363 wins) and Jonathan Quick (279).

It’s quality, not quantity for Suter

Ryan Suter scored the game-winner for the Wild during the third period of its 2–1 win over the Blackhawks on Wednesday. For Suter, it was his sixth goal in 44 games this season. It’s the third straight season that Suter scored six goals through 44 games. However, the veteran defenseman has never tallied as many as 10 goals in any of his 13 NHL seasons. His 75 career goals are the fourth-most by a player who never scored as many as 10 goals in a season, trailing only fellow defensemen Doug Harvey (88 goals), Mike Ramsey (79) and Eric Brewer (77).