Elias Says: Dec. 21

LeBron leads the way in OT win for Cavs

LeBron James led all players with 34 points and seven assists in the Cavaliers’ 114–108 overtime victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee. Tuesday’s game marked the 200th time that James scored at least 30 points in a game for the Cavaliers while also leading Cleveland (or tying for the team-lead) in assists. The Cavs are 135–65 in those contests, including 5–0 in such games this season. (James also had 67 games of that kind for the Heat, with Miami posting a 51–16 record.)

Career night for Thomas

Isaiah Thomas poured in a career-high 44 points to lead the Celtics to an overtime victory over the Grizzlies in Memphis. Thomas needed only 16 field-goal attempts to rack up his impressive point total thanks to a record-setting night from the charity stripe. Thomas went 17 for 17 from the free-throw line, setting a Celtics franchise record for most foul shots in a game without a miss.

The last player before Thomas to compile at least 44 points in a game with 16 or fewer field-goal attempts was Amar’e Stoudemire, who also scored 44 points with 16 field-goal attempts on March 19, 2010 for the Suns against the Jazz. Thomas is the first player with such a game in Celtics franchise history. In fact, the only other Celtics player to score as many as 40 points in a game with no more than 16 field-goal attempts is Paul Pierce. On Dec. 19, 2012, Pierce racked up 40 points with 16 shots from the floor in a win over the Cavaliers.

Magic outlasts Heat in double-OT

It took two overtime periods for the Magic to finally put out the Heat, 136–130, in Miami. Four Magic players totaled at least 20 points in the marathon win – Evan Fournier (26), Nikola Vucevic (26), Elfrid Payton (22), and Serge Ibaka (20). That’s the second time in the last eight days that a quartet of Magic players scored at least 20 points in a game. Orlando also did that in Atlanta on December 13; Fournier, Ibaka, and Payton were joined by Jodie Meeks in the 20-point column on that day. The last season in which the Magic had multiple games featuring four players with 20 or more points was in the 1994–95 campaign. Orlando also had two such games in that season, and, coincidentally, those contests were also against the Hawks (March 5, 1995) and Heat (April 15, 1995).

Many roads to victory in overtime

Three NBA games required overtime on Tuesday, and all three were won by the visiting team – the Cavaliers survived in Milwaukee, the Celtics prevailed in Memphis, and the Magic triumphed in Miami. Tuesday marked the seventh time in NBA history that three road teams won overtime games in a single day. That also occurred earlier this year – on February 8, the Clippers, Magic, and Trail Blazers won road games that were tied at the end of regulation. There has never been a day with four or more wins of that kind.

Cousins runs wild in Sacramento

DeMarcus Cousins carried the Kings to victory on Tuesday by scoring a season-high 55 points against the Trail Blazers in Sacramento. The 55 points scored by Cousins were the most by a Kings plater in a regulation game since the franchise relocated to Sacramento in 1985. The three other 50-point games by Kings players over that span – 51 by Chris Webber (2001), 50 by Kevin Martin (2009), 56 by Cousins (2016) – required at least one overtime period.

Only three players in Kings franchise history scored at least 55 points in a game prior to Cousins this year, and all three did so when the franchise was located in Cincinnati. Jack Twyman holds the franchise record, having totaled 59 points in a game for the Royals against the Lakers in 1960. Oscar Robertson topped out at 56 points for Cincinnati in 1964 versus the Lakers. The third was Nate Archibald, who scored a career-high 55 points for the Royals against the Blazers in 1972.

One vs five is no problem for Curry

Stephen Curry scored as many points (25) as the Jazz’s entire starting five in the Warriors’ blowout victory over Utah. Tuesday’s game marked the fifth time in Curry’s NBA career that he racked up as many or more points in a game as the opposing team’s starting lineup combined. Since Curry entered the league in 2009–10, the only player with as many games of that kind is LeBron James, who has also matched or bettered the opposing team’s starters five times.

Spurs stun Rockets with late comeback

The Spurs trailed the Rockets, 100–94, with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but San Antonio finished the game with an 8–0 run to come away with a 102–100 comeback win in Houston. In the last 10 seasons (2007–08 to date), the only other game that the Spurs won after trailing by at least six points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter took place on Nov. 24, 2010 at Minneapolis. The Spurs also faced a 100–94 deficit late in the fourth quarter of that game, but San Antonio scored 12 points in the final 120 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime. The Spurs finished off the Timberwolves in the extra period, 113–109.

Quick night’s work for Paul

Chris Paul needed just under 26 and a half minutes of court time to rack up 16 points and 15 assists in the Clippers’ 119–102 victory over the Nuggets. Paul has scored at least 15 points and distributed 15 or more assists in 69 games, but this is the first time he did so while playing fewer than 27 minutes. The last player to compile at least 15 points and 15 assists in a game with fewer than 27 minutes played was Avery Johnson, who had 15 points and 15 assists for the Nuggets in 25 minutes on Nov. 6, 1990 at Houston.

Two other players in the shot-clock era tallied at least 15 points and 15 assists in a game with no more than 27 minutes played. The first was Mike Dunleavy, who had 16 points and 16 assists in 23 minutes in a December 1979 contest. Magic Johnson was the other to do so and he had two such games – one in 1986 against the Bullets (18 points and 17 assists in 25 minutes) and the other in 1987 versus the Clippers (15 points and 15 assists in 26 minutes).

Pelicans and Knicks post a different kind of triple-double

Earlier this season, on November 28 versus the Celtics, three Heat players reached double-digits in points in the third quarter. Gorin Dragic led the way with 12 points, Hassan Whiteside scored 11, and Josh Richardson contributed 10. Those three had been the only trio to score 10 or more points in a single quarter this season. On Tuesday it happened again – not once, but twice!

In the second quarter of the Pelicans’ win over the 76ers in Philadelphia, Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 11 points, while reserves E’Twaun Moore and Tim Frazier each contributed 10 points. Davis, Moore, and Frazier are the second threesome to accomplish that feat in a quarter for the Pelicans franchise. On April 2, 2005 against the Heat, three players totaled at least 10 points for New Orleans in the fourth quarter – Chris Andersen, Dan Dickau, and Casey Jacobsen.

A trio of Knicks also achieved that feat in New York’s comeback win over the Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony (11 points), Derrick Rose (11), and Kristaps Porzingis (10) combined for 32 points of the Knicks’ 34 points in the fourth quarter to help New York capture the lead for good. The Knicks had been 0–12 this season in games that they trailed entering the fourth quarter before Tuesday’s victory. Anthony was also involved in the last instance of three Knicks topping 10 points in a single quarter. On March 27, 2013, Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert did the deed in the first quarter of New York’s win over the Grizzlies.

Walker and Batum assist in rescuing Hornets

Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum helped the Hornets overcome a 19-point deficit in their 117–113 victory over the Lakers. Walker and Batum led Charlotte in scoring with 28 points and 23 points, respectively, and both guards also distributed 10 assists apiece. Tuesday’s victory marked the first time in 20 years that a pair of Hornets players compiled at least 20 points and 10 assists in a win for Charlotte. On March 7, 1996, Larry Johnson (21 points, 10 assists) and Anthony Goldwire (20 points, 15 assists) did so in a Hornets victory over the Mavericks.

Lakers’ big first half goes for naught

The Lakers lost to the Hornets on Tuesday despite scoring 73 points in the first half, their highest first-half point total in a road game over the last 10 seasons. The defeat also marks the Lakers’ second loss in the last 50 seasons (1967–68 to date) in which they scored at least 73 points in the first half. On Feb. 22, 1992, Los Angeles built a 73–65 lead over the Warriors at halftime, but Golden State came back in the second half to defeat the Lakers by two.

Lowry pads stats versus Nets

Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 23 points in Toronto’s 116–104 victory over the Nets. That performance upped Lowry’s career scoring average against the Nets to 16.4 points per game, which now stands as his highest against any opponent. Entering Tuesday, Lowry had better scoring averages versus three other teams – the 76ers (16.3), Celtics (16.3), and Bulls (16.2).

Jagr meets Messier near points peak

Jaromir Jagr tied Mark Messier for second place on the NHL’s all-time points leaders list when he notched the last of his three assists for the Panthers in their 4–3 shootout win against the Sabres. The 44-year-old Jagr has matched the total of 1887 points that Messier had when he retired from the NHL at age 43. Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leader with 2857 points, was 28 years old when he reached the point level at which Jagr and Messier are now tied. Jagr did set a record on Tuesday night, becoming the oldest player in NHL history to register a three-assist game. He broke the record which Messier established with three assists for the Rangers at age 43 years, seven weeks in a game against the Penguins on March 7, 2004.

Greiss grabs win for Islanders

Thomas Greiss faced a career-high 50 shots on goal (including 23 in the third period) in his 4–2 win for the Islanders in Boston. He’s the first Islanders goaltender to win a game in which he faced at least 50 shots on goal since Dwayne Roloson stopped 58 of 61 shots in a 4–3 overtime victory at Toronto on Nov. 23, 2009. Greiss is the first Islanders goaltender to do that in a game decided in regulation time since Felix Potvin notched a 4–2 win at New Jersey on April 12, 1999, having turned away all but two of the Devils’ 57 shots on goal.

Multi-pointers galore for Penguins

Evgeni Malkin tallied a game-high three points (with a goal and two assists) and seven of his teammates chipped in two points apiece as the Penguins dismantled the Rangers by a 7–2 score. This was only the second time in the last eight seasons that Pittsburgh had as many as eight different multiple-point scorers in one game. The other instance was in an 8–3 win versus Carolina on April 27, 2013, when nine Penguins put at least two points on the scoresheet. Malkin had three points in that game, too.

Dubnyk extends hot streak with shutout

Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk posted his league-leading fifth shutout of the season with a 2–0 win against the Avalanche on Tuesday. Dubnyk has won his last seven games while allowing two or fewer goals in each game, matching the longest such streak by a NHL goaltender this season. Sergei Bobrovsky’s seven-game streak came to an end on Sunday when he won but gave up three goals. The only other seven-game streak of that kind in Minnesota Wild history was the one by Niklas Backstrom in March 2007.

Neal stands tall versus Devils

James Neal scored two goals, both in the first 7:15 of the game, to lead the Nashville Predators to a 5–1 win against the Devils in Newark. Neal has scored 229 goals in his NHL career but this was the first time that he scored more than once in the first period of an NHL game. It was the first time that any Predators player scored two goals in the first period of a game since Nov. 18, 2014, when Taylor Beck did that versus the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

Big scoring month continues for Drouin

Jonathan Drouin scored one goal and assisted on another in the Lightning’s 4–1 win against the Red Wings. Drouin had only seven points in 17 games this season through the end of November (three goals, four assists), but he’s scored a team-high 10 points in eight games in December (five goals and five assists). Drouin had never before scored more than two goals in a calendar month during his three seasons in the NHL, and his previous high for points in one month was eight (0–8–8 in January 2015).

Atkinson helps Blue Jackets keep win streak alive

The Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to a franchise-record ten games with a shootout victory against the Kings, after Columbus and L.A. played to a 2–2 deadlock. Cam Atkinson scored both of the Blue Jackets’ goals and Jeff Carter did the same for the Kings. This was the first NHL game in which each team scored at least two goals and one player on each club scored all of his team’s goals since the Devils played the Predators on Nov. 19, 2009. Zach Parise scored twice for New Jersey in that game and Jason Arnott matched him with two goals for Nashville, with the Predators ultimately winning, 3–2, via a shootout.

Petry leads Canadiens to victory

Defenseman Jeff Petry tied his career high for points in one game when he tallied a goal and two assists in the Canadiens’ 5–1 win over the Ducks. His only other three-point game in the NHL came just over five years ago, when he notched three assists for the Oilers against the Blackhawks on Nov. 19, 2011. Petry has scored a goal in each of Montreal’s last three games. That matches the longest single-season goal-scoring streaks since 1999 by a Canadiens defenseman. P.K. Subban scored goals in three consecutive games for Montreal in March/April 2011, and Andrei Markov had a three-game streak in January 2013.

Allen at his best under pressure

Blues goaltender Jake Allen made 36 saves in his 3–2 overtime win in Dallas. Allen has won each of the two road games this season in which he faced 35 or more shots on goal, and he has an 8–1–0 record and 2.17 goals-against average in nine such road games during his four-year NHL career. Two of those eight wins have been against the Stars.