Elias Says: January 31, 2018

A hard one to top by Harden

James Harden conducted one of the most impressive performances in NBA history on Tuesday, setting a slew of individual records en route to leading the Rockets to victory over the Magic. Harden finished the night with a career-high 60 points, the most ever tallied in a game by a Rockets player (Houston’s previous high was 57 points, done by Calvin Murphy in 1978). Harden also produced 11 of the team’s 17 assists and put the cherry on top by securing 10 rebounds. No NBA player had ever scored as many as 60 points in a game while also producing a triple-double; Russell Westbrook’s 57-point triple double at Orlando on March 29, 2017 had been the high in that regard prior to Tuesday.

So Harden scored 60 points, and his 11 assists led to 26 points for the Rockets, meaning he either scored or assisted on 86 points on Tuesday. The only player this season with a higher single-game total of points scored or assisted is Harden himself, who posted a 91 in that category (56 points scored, 35 points assisted) on November 5 versus the Jazz. Harden also occupied the number-one slot in the NBA last season with a 95 (53 scored, 42 assisted) on Dec. 31, 2016 against the Knicks. The only other player besides Harden in the last 20 seasons to score or assist on 85 or more points in a single game was a little less pass-happy than Harden. On Jan. 22, 2006 against the Raptors, Kobe Bryant was credited with two assists, leading to five points for the Lakers. He also poured in 81 points that night in Los Angeles, the second-most points ever scored by a player in a NBA game.

Besides Harden and Bryant, only three other players in NBA history either scored or assisted on as many as 85 points in a single game. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points (and two assists) on March 2, 1962 against the Knicks puts him atop the list at 104 points scored/assisted. Oscar Robertson scored 44 points and assisted on 44 more for the Cincinnati Royals on March 5, 1966 in an overtime win over the Knicks, and Bob Cousy had a hand in 87 points for the Celtics (31 scored, 56 assisted) on Feb. 27, 1959 against the Minneapolis Lakers.

Murray helps Spurs zero in on win

Don’t let the goose egg in the points column fool you – Dejounte Murray had a highly productive night for the Spurs in their 106–104 win over the Nuggets. Murray finished scoreless in over 25 minutes of action, but he also led San Antonio with 13 rebounds and seven assists. The only other player this season to pace his squad in both rebounds and assists without notching a point is Marcin Gortat, whose modest totals of seven rebounds and three assists on December 4 were enough to lead the Wizards in a loss at Utah. The only other Spurs player to achieve that feat since San Antonio joined the NBA in 1976–77 was Dennis Rodman, who posted a team-high 20 rebounds and eight assists on April 2, 1994 in a scoreless performance against the Hornets. Murray and Rodman are the only two NBA players in the shot-clock era to finish a game without scoring any points and having at least 13 rebounds and seven assists.

Pistons starting five shares the scoring

Blake Griffin’s imminent arrival to the Motor City pumped the Pistons to snap their eight-game losing streak, with Detroit defeating the Cavaliers, 125–114. All five Pistons starters reached double-digits in points, ranging from Ish Smith’s 19 to Stanley Johnson’s career-high 26. Including Tuesday’s performance, Detroit has had a game in each of the last three seasons in which all five of the team’s starters finished with 19 or more points. The Pistons also did that on March 12, 2016 at Philadelphia and Nov. 30, 2016 at Boston. The only other team with even one game of that kind in that three-season span was the Hawks, and their starters needed four overtime periods to achieve that feat on Jan. 29, 2017 against the Knicks.

DeRozan takes down T-Wolves

DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points to lead the Raptors to victory over the Timberwolves in Toronto. DeRozan has scored at least 20 points in each of his last six matchups against Minnesota over the last three seasons, averaging 27.7 points per game in those contests. The only player that has averaged more points per game versus the Timberwolves over the last three seasons is Anthony Davis, who has produced 29.3 points per game against Minnesota in that span.

Defending champs get Jazz-clubbed

The Warriors suffered their worst loss of the season on Tuesday, losing 129–99 to the Jazz in Salt Lake City. The 30-point margin of defeat stands as the second-largest for Golden State in Steve Kerr’s four seasons as head coach. The Trail Blazers posted a 32-point victory over the Warriors on Feb. 19, 2016 in Portland, thanks in part to a 51-point performance by Damian Lillard.

The Jazz, who were 21–28 entering play on Tuesday, became the second team in NBA history whose record stood at least five games under .500 at the time of a 30-point victory over the defending NBA champions. On March 4, 1959, the 26–41 Pistons defeated the previous year’s Finals winner St. Louis Hawks, 127–97.

Knicks sweep battle of NYC thanks to Kanter

The Knicks finished off a season-sweep of their interborough rivals on Tuesday, defeating the Nets 111–95 at Madison Square Garden. With all due respect to Kristaps Porzingis and his game-high 28 points, it was Enes Kanter who put up the line of the night for the Knickerbockers: 20 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists. The only other Knicks player in the last 40 seasons to produce at least 20 points, 20 rebounds, and five assists in a game was David Lee, who did so twice for New York in the 2009–10 campaign, though his team lost both games. To find the last Knicks player before Kanter to produce a 20–20–5 statline in a game New York won, you’d have to go all the way back to Nov. 13, 1971, when Jerry Lucas totaled 23 points, 22 rebounds, and nine assists in a victory against the Pistons.

Sorta snaky game-winner for Wizards

Tomas Satoransky’s free throws in the final minute of the fourth quarter gave the Wizards the lead for good in their 102–96 victory over the Thunder. Satoransky, who was filling in for John Wall in Washington’s starting lineup, scored his only points of the game from the charity stripe; he finished 0-for-4 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line. Only one other player in the last seven seasons produced the game-winning points for his team in the final minute of the game despite finishing the night without a successful field-goal attempt. On November 24, 2014, Patrick Patterson scored his only two points of the game on a pair of free throws with 34.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter, putting the Raptors ahead to stay in a win over the Suns.

No (second) chance for Pelicans versus Kings

The Pelicans had a DeMarcus Cousins-sized gap in their second-chance scoring opportunities in their loss to the Kings on Tuesday. New Orleans came up with just two boards on the offensive glass and failed to score after either of those. Sacramento, meanwhile, secured 14 offensive rebounds and scored 26 points on its second-chance opportunities. The Kings’ 26-point advantage in second-chance points on Tuesday was the largest differential by any team in a game this season, and it’s the best performance for Sacramento in the last 10 years.

A 20-rebound night for Nurkic

Jusuf Nurkic tied a career-best by securing 20 rebounds for the Trail Blazers in their triumph over the Clippers on Tuesday. Nurkic grabbed the first rebound of the game for Portland but did not secure a second board until the 6:42 mark of the second quarter. The Blazers’ big man picked up the slack after halftime, corralling 10 boards in the third quarter and six more in the fourth to reach the big 2–0. The last player before Nurkic to finish a game with 20 rebounds after finishing the first quarter with a zero or one in that column was DeMarcus Cousins, who collected 21 rebounds – 20 in the final three quarters – for the Kings on April 1, 2015 at Houston.

Malkin finishes January with a bang

Evgeni Malkin recorded his first hat trick of the season by scoring three goals for the Penguins in their 5–2 win against the Sharks. Malkin has produced a dozen regular-season hat tricks in his 12-season NHL career and seven of them have come in games played in the month of January, including each of the last three (one each in 2016, 2017 and 2018). Malkin’s seven January hat tricks are the most by any active player, and they tie him with Phil Esposito for fourth-most in NHL history, behind Wayne Gretzky (9), Mario Lemieux (8) and Tony Tanti (8).

Golden Knights storm back late

The Golden Knights scored three goals in a 53-second span during the final two minutes of the third period to turn a 2–1 deficit into a 4–2 win at Calgary. With the Flames leading by one goal, Erik Haula (at 18:14) and Jonathan Marchessault (at 18:24) scored ten seconds apart to put Vegas ahead, 3–2, and David Perron’s empty-netter (at 19:07) put the finishing touch on the comeback win for the Knights. The only other time this season that an NHL team won a game in regulation time after trailing in the last two minutes of the third period was when the Predators beat the Flyers in Nashville on October 10. Goals by Scott Hartnell (at 18:43) and Filip Forsberg (at 19:24) enabled the Predators to beat the Flyers, 6–5.

Busy night for Blackhawks’ rookie goaltender

Rookie Anton Forsberg stopped 42 of the 43 shots on goal against him as he led the Blackhawks to a 2–1 win at Nashville. Forsberg’s 42 saves are the most in a win by a rookie goaltender for the Blackhawks since Feb. 3, 2004, when Craig Anderson made 43 saves in a 4–1 victory at Toronto. Honorable mention goes to Jeff Glass, who made 42 saves while recording a win for Chicago in his NHL debut earlier this season (Dec. 29 at Edmonton). The 32-year-old Glass is in his first season in the NHL but he’s six years past the age limit to be considered a rookie.

Doughty nets milestone goal

Drew Doughty scored the 100th goal of his NHL career in the Kings’ 3–0 win at Dallas. Doughty, who has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, is the second defenseman to score 100 or more goals for that club, after Rob Blake (161 goals). Doughty was the second overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft. The only other defenseman drafted since 2005 who has scored at least 100 goals in the NHL is Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (121 goals), who was the 15th player selected in the 2008 draft.

Jets soaring at home

Blake Wheeler tallied two assists as the Winnipeg Jets tied a franchise record by extending their home winning streak to seven games with a 3–1 victory over the Lightning. It’s the third seven-game winning streak for the team which came into being as the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. Atlanta won seven consecutive home games in March 2007, and Winnipeg did so earlier this season (Nov. 14–Dec. 11). But this current streak stands apart, since all of the Jets’ wins were recorded in regulation time. That matches the longest streak of consecutive 60-minute wins in home games in the NHL this season, set by the Golden Knights with seven in a row from December 14 through January 7. Wheeler has recorded at least one assist in each game of the Jets’ run of seven straight home wins.

Memorable night for Sateri

Panthers goaltender Harri Sateri recorded the first win of his NHL career with a 4–1 victory against the Islanders in Brooklyn on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Sateri is the 25th goaltender to win a game for the Panthers in their 24 seasons in the NHL but only the third to notch his first career win while playing for Florida. The other netminders who registered their first NHL win while playing for the Panthers are Rich Shulmistra (Dec. 27, 1999, in a start at Tampa Bay) and Jacob Markstrom (Oct. 22, 2011, in relief versus the Islanders). Shulmistra’s victory came in his second and last game in the NHL, and in his only game for the Panthers.

Hall on point for fourth consecutive month

Taylor Hall’s third-period goal was the game-winning goal for the Devils in their 3–1 victory over the Sabres in Buffalo. Hall, who missed New Jersey’s last three games before the All-Star break due to an injury, led the Devils with 13 points in January (six goals, seven assists) despite playing in only eight games. Hall has reached double-figures for New Jersey in points in all four months this season (October: 13, November: 13, December: 10, January: 13). Since 2010–11, the only other Devils player to record at least ten points in each of the first four months of a season was Jaromir Jagr in 2013–14.

Hurricanes Ward off Senators

Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward made 29 saves in his 2–1 win over the Senators in Raleigh. Ward lost his first career home game versus the Senators, allowing six goals in the process (Dec. 12, 2007), but he’s 10–0–1 with a 1.52 GAA in 11 games against them in Carolina since then.

Henrique stays hot for Ducks

Adam Henrique scored the final two goals for the Ducks in their 3–1 win at Boston. Henrique scored five goals in the first 20 games he played after the trade on November 30 which sent him from New Jersey to Anaheim, but he’s scored a team-high six goals in six games since then (Jan. 17 to date). The only other Ducks players with more than one goal in the team’s last six games are Rickard Rakell (3), Ryan Getzlaf (2) and Ryan Kesler (2).

Hutton caps solid month with another win

Blues goaltender Carter Hutton made 33 saves in his 3–1 victory against the Canadiens on Tuesday. Hutton has a 7–1–1 record and 1.73 GAA in the 10 games he’s played for St. Louis this month, and in each of his last six wins he allowed no more than one goal. His seven wins in January are an NHL career high for any calendar month, topping the six wins he posted for Nashville in January 2014.

Zucker nets his 20th

Jason Zucker reached the 20-goal mark for the second consecutive season and third time in his seven-season NHL career when he scored the first goal for the Wild in its 3–2 shootout win at Columbus. Zucker, who was born in California, scored 21 goals for the Wild in 2014–15 and 22 goals last season. His three 20-goal seasons tie him with Brian Rolston and Zach Parise for the Wild franchise record by a U.S.-born player.