Elias Says: Jan. 29, 2018

Westbrook and George make quite the thunderous duo

Russell Westbrook scored 37 points, dished out 14 assists, and grabbed nine rebounds, while Paul George added 31 points of his own in the Thunder’s win over the 76ers. Oklahoma City has won each of its last 18 games against Philadelphia. That is the longest current winning streak for any team against a particular opponent, and the longest since the Bulls had an 18-game streak against the Pistons from 2009 to 2013 and the Lakers had a 22-game run versus the Timberwolves from 2007 to 2013.

Including Sunday, Westbrook has 29 regular season games with at least 35 points and 10 assists in his career. Only five players have more games of this type in NBA history: Oscar Robertson (121), Nate Archibald (43), Jerry West (37), James Harden (31), and Allen Iverson (30).

Westbrook and George each scored 30 points in one other game this season. On December 27 versus the Raptors, Westbrook had 30 and George added 33 points. Only three other duos have multiple games of this type in the 2017-18 season: DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis (four), Austin Rivers and Lou Williams (two), and Devin Booker and T.J. Warren (two).

An NBA first as a pair of 40-year-olds score 15 pts in one game

Vince Carter (who turned 41 years old on January 26) scored 21 points and Manu Ginobili (who is 40 years old) had 15 of his own in the matchup between the Kings and Spurs on Sunday. That marked the first game in NBA history (considering both the regular season and the playoffs) that at least two 40-year-old players had 15-or-more points.

Bucks headed in the right direction

The Bucks continued their winning ways under new head coach Joe Prunty, defeating the Bulls, 110-96, on Sunday. Prunty has won each of his first three games as a head coach in the NBA since replacing Jason Kidd a week ago. Four of the other 29 current head coaches won each of their first three games in the NBA: Frank Vogel (started 4-0 with the Pacers in 2011), Brett Brown (3-0 start with 76ers in 2013), Steve Kerr (5-0 with Warriors in 2014), and Billy Donovan (3-0 with Thunder in 2015).

Jackson misses the mark

Rookie Josh Jackson went 0-for-13 from the floor in the Suns’ loss to the Rockets on Sunday. Jackson is the second player this season to go 0-for-13 (or worse) on his field goal attempts in a game, joining the Pistons’ Stanley Johnson on October 18 versus the Hornets (0-for-13). Prior to this season, no player had done so since the 2011-12 campaign, when Russell Westbrook and Derrick Favors each had a 0-for-13 game.

The last time a rookie went 0-for-13 or worse was on December 18, 1999, when Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) missed all 13 of his field goal attempts for the Bulls against the Magic.

Harden shines versus Suns

James Harden scored 27 points in the Rockets’ 113-102 victory over the Suns, marking his seventh consecutive game with at least 25 points against Phoenix. That is tied for his fourth longest current streak versus a particular opponent (seven-game streak vs. Bucks), behind an 11-game streak against the 76ers, 10-game run versus the Jazz, and eight in a row against the Blazers.

Only two others have active streaks of this type against the Suns as long as Harden’s current run: Stephen Curry (12 in a row) and Damian Lillard (seven).

Pelicans fail to hold early lead as Griffin leads Clippers’ second-half comeback

In their first game without DeMarcus Cousins this season, the Pelicans were looking good early, leading by as many as 21 points in the second quarter. However, they could not hold that lead, with the Clippers dominating in the second half, led by Blake Griffin’s 18 points and 11 rebounds in that half, on their way to a 112-103 victory. It had been just over three years since the last time Griffin had at least 15 points and 10 rebounds in a half. He last did so on December 17, 2014 versus the Pacers (16 points and 11 rebounds in the second half).

Entering Sunday, the Pelicans sported a 50-1 record in games in which they led by at least 20 points over the last five seasons (since 2013-14 season). That loss came earlier this season, on December 4 versus the Warriors (they led by 21 points). With the Pelicans’ loss on Sunday, there are now just five teams with one-or-fewer losses after leading by 20-or-more points in a game since the 2013-14 season: Pacers and Lakers (each with no such losses), and Grizzlies, Nets, and Wizards (one loss each).

James and Love lead the way

LeBron James scored 25 points and Kevin Love added 20 of his own in the Cavaliers' 121-104 triumph over the Pistons. Entering Sunday, Cleveland sported a 4-5 record in its last nine games in which James and Love each scored 20 points, dating back to December 8. Prior to that December 8 game, the Cavs were 8-0 in games in which this duo each hit the 20-point mark this season.

Raptors are strong in the paint

The Raptors had 62 points in the paint in their 123-111 victory over the Lakers on Sunday, marking the seventh time this season (and fourth time since January 1) that Toronto had at least 60 points in the paint in a game. Only four teams have that many games of this type in the 2017-18 campaign: the Lakers (13), Clippers (nine), Nuggets (seven), and Pacers (seven). From the 2014-15 to 2016-17 seasons, the Raptors totaled seven games with at least 60 points in the paint (three such games in 2014-15, one in 2015-16, and three in 2016-17).

AFC climbs back to win Pro Bowl, Smith and Brees make an impact for NFC

The AFC rallied from a 20-3 deficit to win Sunday’s Pro Bowl, 24-23. With that victory the AFC forged a 23-22 lead over the NFC in the 45 Pro Bowls those two conferences have played against each other.

Harrison Smith’s 79-yard interception for a score was the second-longest INT-TD in Pro Bowl history. Hall-of-Famer Bill Dudley returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown back in 1942.

Drew Brees’s touchdown pass in the first quarter extended his streak to six straight Pro Bowls with a TD pass, tying Peyton Manning for the all-time record.

Boeser named MVP

Rookie Brock Boeser was named the Most Valuable Player in this year’s NHL All-Star Game. Boeser is just the second rookie to win that award, joining Mario Lemieux, who won it at 19 years old in the 1984-85 season.