Elias Says: Jan. 24, 2017

Spurs’ recent string of wins over the Nets are like no other

Spurs reserve Patty Mills led all players with 20 points in the Spurs’ 112-86 defeat of the Nets at the Barclays Center. In each of its last four games against Brooklyn, San Antonio has come out on top by a margin of victory of at least 25 points. No other team in NBA history has won four straight games, each by 25-or-more points, against a particular opponent. Besides their current streak versus the Nets, the Spurs had never won three consecutive games of this variety against one team.

No one could have predicted this

Three teams that entered Monday with winning percentages of .700 or higher all lost to teams with losing records: the Warriors (38-6, .864 entering Monday) lost to the Heat (14-30, .318), the Rockets (34-13, .723) lost to the Bucks (20-23, .465), and the Cavaliers (30-12, .714) fell to the Pelicans (17-27, .386). The last time this happened (minimum 30 games into a season) was on January 4, 2009. On that day, the Celtics (29-5, .853) lost at New York (12-19, .387), the Cavs (27-5, .844) came up short at Washington (6-25, .194), and the Magic (26-7, .788) fell to the Raptors (13-20, .394).

Waiters serves up the winning shot to stun the Warriors

Dion Waiters hit a game-winning three pointer with under one second to play as the Heat shocked the Warriors with a 105-102 victory. Waiters was the star of the show, scoring 33 points (including 24 in the second half) and hitting six three-pointers on Monday. This was coming off the Heat’s previous game in which he had 33 points, along with five three-point field goals. Waiters is the first player in Heat history with consecutive games with at least 30 points and five three-point field goals made.

Waiters is the second player since the start of the 2015-16 season to hit a game-winning field goal with five-or-fewer seconds remaining in a game against the Warriors. The first was just a few weeks back, when Kyrie Irving did so on Christmas in a 109-108 Cavs’ win.

Holiday and Jones lead the Pelicans to a win

Pelicans teammates Jrue Holiday and Terrence Jones each scored 22 first-half points as New Orleans defeated LeBron James and the Cavs, 124-122. That is the second game this season in which a pair of teammates each had at least 20 points in the first half. On December 31, LeBron James scored 23 points in the opening half, while teammate Kevin Love totaled 22 in that half, in a Cavs’ 121-109 win over the Hornets. Holiday and Jones are the first Pelicans teammates to each score 20-or-more points in the first half of the same game.

The Pelicans, who entered the game with a 17-27 record this season, led the Cavaliers at halftime, 70-50. They are the fourth sub-.500 team to take a lead of at least 20 points at the half against a LeBron James-led team (with the requirement that James played in the game). On January 15, 2014, the 17-19 Wizards led by 21 points at the half against the Heat (with James scoring 13 first-half points). On December 26, 2015, the 11-20 Trail Blazers took a 29-point halftime lead over Cleveland (James was 2-for-10 on field-goal attempts with six points in the first half). And on March 20, 2013, the 22-45 Cavaliers held a 21-point lead at the half over James and the Heat (James’ first-half numbers: 2-for-5 from the floor with six points).

Irving’s second half is not enough for Cleveland

Kyrie Irving had a huge second half in the Cavaliers’ loss on Monday, with 35 points and five three-pointers made. Over the last 10 years, the only other player to score 35-or-more points in a half in a game in which his team lost was the Hornets’ Kemba Walker on December 27, 2014, against the Magic (also scored 35 points in the second half).

Westbrook does it all

Russell Westbrook hit the game-winning field goal with less than two seconds to play in the Thunder’s 97-95 win over the Jazz. And not only that, it was business as usual as he recorded another triple-double with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. It was the third game-winning field goal with five-or-fewer seconds remaining in Westbrook’s NBA career, but he did not have a triple-double in either of the two previous instances (November 29, 2013 against the Warriors and January 21, 2015 at Washington).

Westbrook has 22 triple-doubles in 45 games this season. That is the seventh instance of a player reaching that many triple-doubles in a season, but only one other player did so in 60-or-fewer games: Oscar Robertson in the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons. He reached his 22nd triple-double in his 59th game in the 1960-61 season and in 1961-62, it took him only 35 games on his way to an NBA record 41 triple-doubles.

Clippers are off to another fast start

Austin Rivers led the way with 27 points as the Clippers earned their 30th win in their 46th game of the season, as they defeated the Hawks, 115-105. It is the fifth straight season in which the Clippers reached 30 wins in 50-or-fewer games (with the quickest to 30 being in the 2012-13 season, when they started 30-9). Prior to the 2012-13 season, the franchise had only three such seasons: 1974-75 season (started 30-16) and 1975-76 season (30-19) when the team was located in Buffalo and the 2005-06 season (30-18).

Knicks find themselves on the winning side of a close game

The Knicks outscored the Pacers, 40-24, in the second quarter, led by 10 points each from Willy Hernangomez and Justin Holiday and went on to win a close one by a 109-103 score. Entering Monday, New York had lost eight of its last nine games decided by a margin of six-or-fewer points, dating back to December 13 (with the team’s only win coming on January 6, in a 116-111 victory over the Bucks). No other NBA team has suffered eight losses of this type over that span.

Wall gets going early

John Wall came out on fire in the Wizards’ 109-99 victory over the Hornets on Monday night, hitting his first five shots from the floor and finishing the first quarter 6-for-7 on field-goal attempts with 13 points. The last time Wall had that many first-quarter points was on April 12, 2015, when he had 13 against the Hawks. And it’s the second game this season in which Wall made his first five field-goal attempts, also doing so just days ago on January 19 against the Knicks.

Marleau erupts for four goals in the third period

Patrick Marleau notched the first four-goal game of his 19-season NHL career by scoring all four third-period goals by the Sharks in their 5–2 win at Colorado. Marleau tied the NHL record for goals by a player in a single period, done many times before but the most recent instance before Monday was almost exactly 20 years ago. That was when Mario Lemieux scored four third-period goals for the Penguins in a game at Montreal on Jan. 26, 1997.

Getzlaf with 11 straight 30-assist seasons

Ryan Getzlaf scored the game-winning goal and notched his 30th assist of the season in the Ducks’ 3–2 victory at Winnipeg. Getzlaf made his NHL debut with Anaheim in 2005–06 and recorded 25 assists that season, but he’s racked up at least 30 assists for the Ducks in each of the 11 seasons since then. At the moment, Getzlaf is the only NHL player who has registered 30 or more assists in each of the last 11 seasons.

So far, so good for Fischer

Christian Fischer, who scored a goal when he made his NHL debut with the Coyotes in their win over the Lightning on Saturday, made it two goals in two games when he scored the first goal for Arizona in its game against the Panthers on Monday. Fischer is the first player ever to score a goal in each of his first two NHL games while playing for the Jets/Coyotes franchise. He is the first player on any team to score at least one goal in each of his first two NHL games since the Stars’ Mattias Janmark and the Bruins’ Tyler Randell both did so in October 2015.

Kadri reaches 100 goals with the Leafs

Nazem Kadri reached the 20-goal mark (tying his single-season high in the NHL) when he scored the second of his two goals in the Maple Leafs’ 4–0 win against the Flames. Kadri, who was Toronto’s first-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft (seventh overall), reached a milestone in Monday’s game, as those goals were the 100th and 101st of his NHL career. He is only the fourth player drafted by the Maple Leafs since 1988 to score at least 100 goals for the club. The others are Sergei Berezin (126 goals), Nik Antropov (125) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (114).

Goal scoring is widespread across the Capitals roster this season

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored two goals in a game for the second time in his NHL career when the Capitals beat the Hurricanes, 6–1, on Monday. Orlov, whose other two-goal game was in a Capitals overtime loss to the Flyers on March 2, 2014, is the 12th different player to produce a multiple-goal game for Washington this season. That ties the Capitals with the Predators for the most players with multi-goal games for one NHL team this season. This is the first season in which the Caps have had at least a dozen players with multiple-goal games since they had 13 in 1999–2000.

Zuccarello ends goal drought

Mats Zuccarello ended his 15-game goalless streak when he scored the final goal for the Rangers in their 3–2 win over the Kings. Zuccarello had not scored a goal since December 15 (at Dallas), but that does not mean he was not extremely productive during that stretch. In fact, Zuccarello recorded a league-high total of 17 assists (in 15 games) over that span (Dec. 16–Jan. 22), one more than runner-up Nicklas Backstrom’s 16 assists.