Elias Says: Dec. 18

Moore shines after long absence from starting lineup

Matt Moore, starting his first game since New Year’s Day 2012, threw four touchdown passes in the Dolphins’ 34–13 road win over the Jets. Moore is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw for four touchdowns in his first start in at least four years (excluding players starting their first NFL game.) Four QBs over that span threw three touchdown passes after such a layoff: Denver’s Pete Liske in 1969, Washington’s Doug Williams in 1987, Pittsburgh’s Tommy Maddox in 2002, and Cleveland’s Kelly Holcomb in 2002.

Stills catches his third long TD pass of the season

Kenny Stills’s 52-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter gave the Dolphins a lead they would not relinquish in their win Saturday night. It was the Stills’s third touchdown catch of at least 50 yards this season, which ties Odell Beckham for the most by any NFL player in 2016.

Finally, a winning team in the Sunshine State

The Dolphins improved to 9–5 with their win in New Jersey, clinching the first winning record by any of the three Florida-based NFL teams since the Buccaneers went 10–6 (but missed the playoffs) under head coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman in 2010.

Westbrook does what Westbrook does

Russell Westbrook scored 26 points, handed out 22 assists, and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Thunder’s 114–101 home win over the Suns. Westbrook is the first NBA player to put up at least 20 points, 20 assists, and 10 rebounds in a game since Washington’s Rod Strickland (21 pts, 20 ast, 12 reb) at Golden State on February 10, 1998.

Steven Adams had just two assists, but that was good enough to finish second in that category for Oklahoma City on Saturday. Besides Russell Westbrook, only three other players have ever been credited with at least 20 more assists than any teammate in a triple-double: Oscar Robertson in October 1961 (22, next most was 2), Guy Rodgers in October 1966 (21–1), and Isiah Thomas in February 1985 (24–4.)

Towns puts up a nearly unprecedented line for a player his age

Karl-Anthony Towns had 41 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists in the Timberwolves’ overtime loss to the visiting Rockets. Towns, who turned 21 last month, is second-youngest player in NBA history to put up at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists in a game. The Hawks’ John Drew had two such games at age 20 in the 1974–75 season, against the Lakers and Jazz.

Kevin Love should trademark this performance

Kevin Love scored 27 points, including three three-pointers, and grabbed 17 rebounds in the Cavaliers’ 119–108 home win over the Lakers. It was Love’s 22nd career game with at least 25 points, 15 rebounds, and three three-point field goals. That’s more than twice as many such games as any other player in NBA history. Dirk Nowitzki is a distant second with nine.

Green excels in rebounding and passing, if not scoring

Draymond Green put up the unusual line of three points, 12 rebounds, and 13 assists in the Warriors’ 135–90 win over the visiting Trail Blazers. It was the second time this year that Green had at least a dozen rebounds and assists but fewer than five points in a game; he also did that in an overtime win over the Thunder on February 27 (2 pts, 14 reb, 14 ast.) All other players in NBA history have combined for just four such performances: Wilt Chamberlain in November 1967 (1 pt, 18 reb, 13 ast), Charles Oakley in December 1986 (2, 13, 15), Jason Kidd in January 2000 (2, 12, 14), and Rajon Rondo in December 2014 (2, 12, 19.)

Howard grabs 23 rebounds in a loss

Dwight Howard’s 23 rebounds weren’t enough to keep the Hawks from losing 107–99 to the visiting Hornets. Howard’s rebound total was the second-highest by any Atlanta player in in the last 25 years in a non-overtime loss. On February 18, 2000, Dikembe Mutombo pulled down 25 boards in a losing effort at Phoenix.

Robinson’s atypical line for a guard

Glenn Robinson III, making his fourth straight start in the Pacers’ backcourt, scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds but was not credited with an assist in the Pacers’ 105–90 win at Detroit. It had been nearly six years since a starting guard had at least a dozen rebounds and zero assists in a game. On December 23, 2010, the Suns’ Jared Dudley put up 33 points and 12 rebounds without assisting on any field goals in a loss to Miami.

Faried supplements a solid performance by Denver’s starters

Kenneth Faried came off the bench to score 25 points and all five Nuggets starters reached double digits in points in their 127–114 home win over the Knicks. Only one other bench player in the last three seasons has scored as many as 25 points in a game in which each member of his team’s starting lineup scored at least 10. The Rockets’ Eric Gordon put 26 points on the board in a 134–95 win over the Lakers on December 7, 2016.

Price and Holtby live up to the hype

The Canadiens beat the Capitals 2–1 in D.C. on Saturday night in a game that featured the last two Vezina trophy winners, Montreal’s Carey Price (who won in 2014–15) and Washington’s Braden Holtby (the 2015–16 winner.) This was the seventh head-to-head matchup for Price and Holtby but only the second win for Price (2–4–1), whose first victory against Holtby was a 1–0 overtime shutout in Montreal on Jan. 31, 2015. Holtby (5–1–1) has given up only 10 goals in the seven games he’s played against Price and he’s had two shutouts among his five wins.

Price’s win was the 250th regular-season victory of an NHL career spent entirely with the Canadiens. He’s the fourth goaltender to post 250 or more wins for the Canadiens, joining Hall of Famers Jacques Plante (314), Patrick Roy (289) and Ken Dryden (258.) The Rangers, with three (Henrik Lundqvist, Mike Richter, Ed Giacomin), are the only other NHL team with more than two 250-win goaltenders.

A tough win for Andersen

Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 33 saves, including one on a first-period penalty shot by Carl Hagelin, in his 2–1 overtime win versus the Penguins. The only other Toronto goaltender ever to win a game by a one-goal margin while allowing no more than one goal and facing an unsuccessful penalty shot was Hall of Famer George Hainsworth in a 2–1 overtime victory against the Canadiens in November 1934. That penalty shot by Montreal’s Armand Mondou was the first one ever in an NHL game, coming during the first week of the season in which the penalty-shot rule was introduced to the NHL.

Kane scores against his favorite opponent

Patrick Kane ended his nine-game goal drought when he scored for the Blackhawks in their 6–4 win at St. Louis. Kane, who also recorded an assist in Saturday’s game, has produced more points versus the Blues (49) than any other team in his ten-season NHL career (18 goals, 31 assists in 51 regular-season games.) It’s also the highest point total by any player against St. Louis over the last ten seasons. Pavel Datsyuk, who’s playing in the KHL this season, is second with 44 points.

Lundqvist back on track

Henrik Lundqvist notched his second win in three days with a 2–1 shootout victory for the Rangers at Nashville on Saturday, having beaten the Stars in Dallas by a 2–0 score on Thursday (though he did not get credit for a shutout since he had to be replaced in goal for a short time after being shaken up when hit illegally by the Stars’ Cody Eakin.) Lundqvist has given up no more than one goal in each of his last two games, after doing that only twice in his 21 other games this season. This is the first time that Lundqvist has done that in consecutive games, regular-season or playoffs, since he had a three-game streak in February with wins against the Devils, Penguins and Flyers.

Suter is a “plus” for Minnesota

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter scored the first goal and finished with a plus-3 rating in Minnesota’s 4–1 win over the Coyotes. Suter has posted a plus-3 rating in five different games this season, second-most of any NHL player, behind Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole who’s done it six times. Suter played in all 82 games for the Wild last season but he was plus-3 or better in only three games.

Faksa provides scoring, hitting

Radek Faksa tallied one goal, one assist and a career-high six hits as the Stars ended the Flyers’ 10-game winning streak with a 3–1 victory in Dallas on Saturday afternoon. Faksa is the first Stars player to produce at least two points and six hits in the same game since Dec. 10, 2013, when Antoine Roussel scored two goals and racked up nine hits in a game against the Blackhawks.

Tatar needs only three shots on goal in hat trick

Tomas Tatar recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career when he scored three goals for the Red Wings in their 6–4 win against the Ducks on Saturday. It was the third three-goal game by a Detroit player over the last two seasons and in all three instances the hat-tricking player had only three shots on goal. Justin Abdelkader shot three-for-three when he produced the Red Wings’ only hat trick last season (Oct. 9, 2015 vs. Toronto), and Mike Green did the same for Detroit’s first three-goal game this season (October 17 vs. Ottawa.)

Inconsistent Condon delivers good performance in win

Mike Condon, making his fifth consecutive start in goal for Ottawa, ended a three-game winless streak with a 3–1 victory over the Devils in which he made 29 saves. This was Condon’s fifth win in ten starts since the Senators acquired him in a trade with Pittsburgh on November 2. Condon’s performances have run hot and cold for Ottawa. In his five wins he’s allowed a total of four goals, and only once did he give up as many as two goals. In the five starts Condon didn’t win (0–3–2) he has allowed 18 goals and in each of those games he surrendered at least three goals.