Elias Says: March 24, 2018

LeBron’s last 5 games unique in NBA history

LeBron James played only 29 minutes, 16 seconds of the Cavaliers’ 120-95 win over the Suns, practically a day off for the King, who had entered Friday’s games leading the NBA in both total minutes played (2,638) and minutes per game (37.2). Still, LeBron packed 27 points, six rebounds and nine assists into his limited playing time, shooting 11 of 16 from the floor.

Over his last five games, James has generated 170 points, 52 rebounds and 54 assists while shooting 59.1 percent from the floor. We’ll say it loud and clear: James is the first player in NBA history to amass 170 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists, while shooting at least 57 percent from the floor, over a span of five consecutive games.

Steph returns from injury, leaves with another, as Warriors break NBA record

Stephen Curry returned from missing six games with a sprained right ankle and scored a game-high 29 points in 25 minutes on the court before leaving with an apparent left knee injury in the Warriors’ 106-94 win over the Hawks. The Warriors, already playing without Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, said that more would be known about Curry’s injury on Saturday.

The win lifted the Warriors’ record to 54-18 this season, and gave them a record of 312-88 (.780) in 400 games over the past five seasons. With 10 games remaining this season, Golden State broke the NBA record for most wins and highest winning percentage over a span of five straight seasons. The previous records were held by the Celtics, who went 311-99 (.759) from 1981-82 through 1985-86 during the Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish era.

Aldridge scores career-high 45 points in key Spurs victory

LaMarcus Aldridge poured in a career-high 45 points and the Spurs needed them to capture a 124-120 overtime victory against the visiting Jazz. Aldridge produced the most points by a Spurs player in one game since Tony Parker canned 55 points in an overtime victory over the Timberwolves on Nov. 5, 2008. Besides Aldridge and Parker, only two other Spurs players have scored as many as 45 points in a game since Gregg Popovich became the Spurs head coach in 1996 – Tim Duncan had three such games and Manu Ginobili two.

During the Spurs’ six-game winning streak, Aldridge has scored 193 points, making 80 of 139 shots from the field, a rate of 57.6 percent. That’s the most points that any Spurs player has scored in six consecutive games that the team has played, all wins, during Popovich’s tenure as head coach. The last player with a higher total over six consecutive Spurs games, all wins, was David Robinson, who scored 197 points over six successive San Antonio wins in February 1994.

Lowry’s triple-double wins over Russell’s historic triple-double

Kyle Lowry, who earned a triple-double against the Nets in their last trip to Toronto in December, repeated the feat with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to help the Raptors to a 116-112 comeback win over the visiting Nets. It was Lowry’s third triple-double of the season and the 12th of his NBA career, but only the second time that he had scored as many as 25 points in any of those games. He finished with 28 points in his first NBA triple-double, while playing for the Rockets against the Jazz, on March 20, 2011.

Lowry’s wasn’t the only triple-double in Toronto on Friday night. Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell earned his first triple-double as a pro, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. It was the first triple-double by a Nets player since Terrence Williams had one in a double-overtime game against the Bulls on April 9, 2010.

But maybe we’ve buried the lede. Russell became the 27th different NBA player to produce a triple-double this season, breaking the previous record of 26 players, set originally in the 1988-89 season, and then tied (but not exceeded) in 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Celtics, down by 12 in 4th quarter, win in Portland

Marcus Morris amassed a game-high 30 points and the Celtics outscored the Trail Blazers, 38-23, in the fourth quarter to earn a 105-100 win in Portland. It was the second straight loss for the Blazers, both at home, on the heels of a 13-game winning streak. For Boston, it marked the fourth time this season that the team has won a game by overcoming a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit. Ironically, that total ties Portland for the most such wins in the NBA this season.

At last, a winning season for the ’Wolves

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 24 points to lead six Timberwolves who scored in double-figures in the team’s 108-104 victory over the Knicks in New York. And just that like, the ’Wolves earned their 42nd victory of the season and consigned to the dustbin of history their streak of 12 straight seasons without finishing with a winning record—the longest current streak of its kind coming into this NBA season. Minnesota now happily cedes that distinction to the Kings, who have clinched a 12th consecutive season without a winning record.

Westbrook’s late push puts Thunder over the top

Russell Westbrook scored only 12 points over the first three quarters on Friday night, but he scored 17 of the Thunder’s 41 fourth-quarter points to key a 105-99 come-from-behind victory over the Heat. It was the 19th time in his pro career that Westbrook has scored as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter of a game, but it was only the second of those 19 games in which he had come into the fourth quarter having scored fewer than 17 points.

Pacers overcome odds, top hot-shooting Clippers

The Pacers defied some severe odds in securing a 109-104 decision over the Clippers in Indianapolis. The visitors shot 55.3 percent from the floor, while Indiana made only 46.2 percent of its field-goal attempts – a disparity that almost always spells defeat for the team on the short end. Prior to the Clippers-Pacers game, there had been 240 NBA games this season in which one team’s field-goal percentage was at least nine points higher than its opponents’ – and the teams with the lower shooting percentage had a record of three wins and 237 losses in those games.

The Clippers’ shooting percentage was the third highest allowed by the Pacers on their home court this season. The two higher percentages at Indianapolis were both produced by the Celtics, shot shot 56.3 percent on November 25 and 55.7 percent on December 18.

Nuggets win on the road, gain a game on Jazz

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 25 points and Will Burton contributed 23 to Denver’s 108-100 victory in Washington. The Nuggets, as is often the case, have had an up-and-down season on the road: While it can boast of road wins over the Warriors, Trail Blazers and Cavaliers, Michael Malone’s squad started its current road trip with a loss in Memphis (ending the Grizzlies’ 19-game losing streak) and a double-overtime defeat in Miami. Still, Friday’s victory was the Nuggets’ sixth in their last 10 road games, and they gained a game on the Jazz in the scramble for a Western Conference playoff berth.

Newcomer leads Bucks over Bulls

Shabazz Muhammad, playing just his fifth game with the Bucks, came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points and lead Milwaukee to a 118-105 victory in Chicago in a game that the Bucks played without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle. Muhammad made nine of his 12 field-goal attempts on Friday night, and is now 20-of-29 from the floor over his five games with the Bucks.

Bruins set NHL record with comeback win in Dallas

David Pastrnak’s tiebreaking goal with 11.1 seconds remaining in regulation time completed the Bruins’ comeback from a 2-0 third-period deficit in a 3-2 win in Dallas. It was the third time this season that the Bruins posted a 60-minute win after trailing by two goals or more in the third period, and all of those victories have come on the road (also February 20 at Edmonton and March 13 at Carolina). Remarkably, the 2017-18 Bruins are the first team in NHL history to record three such road wins within one season!

Devils win on Hall’s OT goal

Taylor Hall’s goal 27 seconds into overtime sealed the Devils’ 4-3 win at Pittsburgh after New Jersey had squandered its 3-1 lead entering the third period. Hall has scored 10 overtime goals in his NHL career: five for the Oilers and five for the Devils. He’s the sixth player in NHL history to score at least five regular-season overtime goals for each of two different teams. The other players to do that: Brett Hull (Blues, Red Wings), Theo Fleury (Flames, Rangers), Scott Niedermayer (Devils, Ducks), Ilya Kovalchuk (Thrashers, Devils) and Brent Burns (Wild, Sharks).

Earlier, rookies Will Butcher, Blake Coleman and Nico Hischier scored the Devils’ first three goals. It was only the fifth time in the team’s 35 seasons in New Jersey that three rookies each scored a goal for the Devils in the same game, and the first time it happened since March 7, 1993, when Bill Guerin, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Pellerin each scored a goal in a 7-3 victory over the Flyers.

Connor does it again for Jets

Rookie Kyle Connor scored in overtime for the second straight game, lifting the Jets to a 3-2 victory over the Ducks. Connor, whose OT goal beat the Kings on Tuesday, is only the second rookie to score an overtime goal in each of two or more consecutive team games since the NHL introduced the five-minute overtime period for regular-season games in 1983-84. Andrew Cogliano was a rookie when he scored an OT winner in three straight games for the Oilers in March 2008. Cogliano is still the only NHL player, rookie or veteran, with a streak of three straight regular-season games with an overtime goal.

Blues’ signature first-minute-in-period goals do the job

The Blues scored a goal in the opening minute of the first period and of the third period in a 4-1 win over the Canucks. Patrik Berglund’s goal 40 seconds after the opening puck-drop gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead, and Vladimir Tarasenko made the score 3-1 only 14 seconds after the faceoff to begin the third period. The Blues have scored 14 goals in the first minute of regulation periods this season, second-most by any NHL team, behind the Lightning’s total of 15.

Niemi gets 36th NHL shutout, his first with Montreal

Antti Niemi’s first shutout for the Canadiens was a 3-0 win in Buffalo. Niemi has racked up 36 shutouts over his ten seasons in the NHL; in fact, he has at least one shutout for four different teams (Blackhawks 7, Sharks 25, Stars 3, Canadiens 1), tying the high among active goaltenders. The other current goaltenders with shutouts for four NHL clubs: Craig Anderson, Jonathan Bernier, Ben Bishop, Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson, Anton Khudobin, Ryan Miller, Al Montoya and Mike Smith.

Niemi had entered play on Friday with the second-longest current streak of starts without a shutout (70) among active NHL goaltenders, behind Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings, who hasn’t posted a shutout in his last 74 starts.