Elias Says: March 14, 2017

24 points in eight shots? That’s just Vinsanity!

Vince Carter enjoyed a perfect shooting night in the Grizzlies’ 113–93 victory over the Bucks. Carter, at 40 the oldest active player in the NBA, scored a team-high 24 points, going 6-for-6 on three-point attempts, 2-for-2 on two-pointers, and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. Only five other players scored 20 or more points in a game at age 40 or older, and all five are Hall-of-Famers. Those five – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish, John Stockton, Michael Jordan, and Karl Malone – had a combined 55 games after turning 40 in which they scored 20 or more points. The highest field-goal percentage in any of those games was 86 percent, posted by both Parish in 1993 for the Celtics and Malone in 2003 for the Lakers.

But Carter’s status as a quadragenarian is hardly the only story here, as scoring 24 points on just eight field-goal attempts and two free-throw attempts is impressive at any age. In fact, only one other player in NBA history scored at least 24 points in a game with no more than eight shots from the floor and two or fewer attempts from the charity stripe. On Jan. 15, 1997, Sam Perkins went 8-for-8 from the field – all from behind the three-point arc – and hit two free throws to rack up 26 points off the bench for the Seattle SuperSonics against the Raptors.

Spurs catch Warriors with yet another home win over Hawks

Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 31 points in their 107–99 victory over the Hawks at AT&T Center. Including Monday’s triumph, San Antonio has won 19 consecutive home games against the Hawks, which is the longest current home winning streak of its kind for one NBA team against another and the third-longest in the Spurs’ NBA history. They won 33 straight home games against the Warriors (1997–2016) and 20 in a row against Utah (1999–2009).

At 52–14, the Spurs are now tied with the Warriors for the best record in the NBA, a spot Golden State had been in sole possession of since November 25. San Antonio was a season-high five games behind the Warriors through games of February 12. The Spurs are 11–1 since that date while the Warriors are only 6–6.

Assists a-plenty for Rubio

Ricky Rubio scored 22 points and distributed 19 assists to lead the Timberwolves to victory against the Wizards on Monday night. Rubio did most of his damage in the first quarter with nine points and 10 assists, helping the Timberwolves rack up a season-high 41 points in the first quarter. The last player to reach both of those plateaus in a quarter prior to Rubio was Steve Nash, who scored nine points and dished out 12 assists in the first quarter on Jan. 6, 2006 for the Suns against the Heat.

Not only did Rubio set a personal best for assists in a game, but he also out-assisted the entire Wizards roster! Washington finished the game with just 15 assists, the team’s third-lowest assist total of the season. Monday’s game marked the fourth time that Rubio totaled more assists in a game than the opposing team; he has one such game in each of the last four seasons (2013–14 to 2016–17). The only other Timberwolves player with even one game of that kind was Terrell Brandon, who out-assisted the Magic 15 to 13 on Dec. 27, 1999 at Orlando.

Herd of Bulls run wild in Charlotte

Nikola Mirotic scored a season-high 24 points to lead the Bulls to a 115–109 victory in Charlotte. Mirotic made half of his 16 field-goal attempts for Chicago, making him one of four Bulls players to score 20 or more points and shoot 50 percent or better from the floor along with Jimmy Butler (23 points), Dwyane Wade (23 points) and Rajon Rondo (20 points), each of whom went 8-for-15 from the field. The last time that a quartet of Bulls players scored 20 or more points in a game while also making at least half of their field-goal attempts was on Feb. 11, 1981, when Artis Gilmore, Reggie Theus, Larry Kenon, and Ricky Sobers did it in an overtime loss to the Nets in New Jersey.

Ibaka a hero despite his zero

Despite going scoreless in 32 minutes, Serge Ibaka posted his highest plus/minus rating since joining the Raptors in Toronto’s 100–78 victory over the Mavericks. Ibaka finished with a plus-18 rating on Monday, tying DeMar DeRozan for the team-high. That’s the fourth-highest plus-minus rating for a player this season in a game that he finished with nary a point. Mirza Teletovic has the high this season, having recorded a plus-23 rating in 24 scoreless minutes for the Bucks on December 23 against the Wizards. The Warriors’ Patrick McCaw accounted for the other two games of that type, finishing at plus-22 against the Lakers on November 23 and at plus-20 against the Blazers on December 17.

Third quarter’s a charm for the Jazz

The Jazz used a hot-shooting third quarter to take the lead for good in Utah’s 114–108 victory over the Clippers. The Jazz made 13 of 17 field-goal attempts in the third quarter, good for 76 percent. That stands as Utah’s third-highest field-goal percentage in any quarter this season; the Jazz shot 81 percent in the third quarter on January 28 versus Memphis and 80 percent in the third quarter on February 6 at Atlanta. Quin Snyder’s halftime speeches must be particularly motivating in the Jazz locker room – since the start of last season the Jazz have shot 75 percent or better from the floor in 10 regulation quarters, and seven of those were third quarters.

Golden games for pair of Nuggets backups

Jamal Murray and Will Barton both scored 22 points off the bench for the Nuggets in their blowout victory over the Lakers. The last time a pair of Nuggets reserves each scored 20 or more points in a regulation game also came at the expense of the Lakers. On Jan. 5, 2014, Nate Robinson scored 21 points and Timofey Mozgov added 20 in Denver’s road victory over Los Angeles.

Murray scored 16 of his 22 points on Monday in the fourth quarter alone, marking the fourth time this season the Nuggets rookie has totaled at least 15 points in a quarter. All other rookies in the NBA have combined for four such quarters this season. Joel Embiid has compiled two quarters with 15 or more points, and two players – Jake Layman and Tyler Ulis – have one such quarter.

Kings share scoring to snap skid

The Kings held off the Magic 120–115 to snap their season-long eight-game losing streak. Seven Kings players reached double-digits in points though none of them got as high as 20 (Darren Collison and Anthony Tolliver led Sacramento with 19 points apiece). The Kings had lost their previous 17 games in which none of their players scored at least 20 points, including an 0–11 record in such games this season. Entering Monday, the only team with a longer active losing streak in games with no 20-point scorers was the Nets, who have lost their last 32 games of that kind.

Hurricanes blow through Brooklyn

Jaccob Slavin scored three goals and fellow defenseman Justin Faulk added two for the Hurricanes in their 8–4 win over the Islanders in Brooklyn. It was the first time that the Hurricanes (or Hartford Whalers) had ever had two defensemen each score multiple goals in the same game, and it’s only the third time since the year 2000 that any NHL team has two multi-goal d-men in one game. The two other instances in this century were by the Coyotes’ Keith Ballard and Paul Mara in 2005 (Dec. 29 against the Kings, two goals each), and the Predators’ Ryan Suter and Shea Weber in 2009 (Oct. 22 at Ottawa, two goals apiece).

Left wing Jeff Skinner also scored two goals for the Hurricanes in Monday’s game. This was only the third game since the Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1998 in which three different Hurricanes players each scored two goals or more. The other trios of multi-goal scorers for Carolina were Rod Brind’Amour (three goals), Ray Whitney and Justin Williams against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 27, 2007, and Brind’Amour, Eric Staal and Drayson Bowman at Tampa Bay on April 6, 2010.

Flames are hotter than ever

The Flames extended their winning streak to 10 games, tying a franchise record set in 1978–79 (the team’s next to-last season in Atlanta), with a 4–3 shootout victory against the Penguins. Johnny Gaudreau, who scored the Flames’ final goal in regulation time, is Calgary’s leading point producer during this winning streak, with 14 points on four goals and 10 assists. Seven of the ten wins in the Flames’ streak have been against Eastern Conference teams. In fact, Calgary has won its last nine games versus Eastern opponents, which ties the franchise record for the longest single-season winning streak in interconference games, a mark set by the 2003–04 Flames.

Calgary is the first Canadian-based NHL team to win at least 10 consecutive games since the 2009–10 Senators won 11 in a row. The longest winning streak ever by a team based in Canada is 12 games by the 1967–68 Montreal Canadiens, who did it without the taint of overtime or the shootout.

Clutch hat trick for Marchand keys B’s comeback

Brad Marchand scored three goals in the third period to propel the Bruins to a 6–3 comeback win over the Canucks in Vancouver. Marchand’s power-play goal in the opening minute of the period tied the score, and his next goal with 7:57 remaining put Boston ahead for good (he capped the scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute). Marchand is the first Bruins player since Brad Boyes on March 18, 2006 to score at least three goals in a period. Boyes also scored three times in the third period, including the game-winning goal, in a home win over the Hurricanes.

Neal nets 20th goal

James Neal reached the 20-goal mark for the ninth time in his nine seasons in the NHL when he scored the overtime goal which gave the Predators a 5–4 victory over the Jets. Only five other active players began their careers by scoring 20-plus goals in each of their first nine (or more) NHL seasons: Jaromir Jagr (first 17), Alex Ovechkin (all 12), Patrick Kane (all 10), Thomas Vanek (first 10) and Jonathan Toews (first 9 through 2015–16, and he’s three goals shy of 20 this season).

Point’s two lead to two points for Lightning

Lightning rookie Brayden Point turned 21 years of age on Monday and he celebrated with style, scoring two goals for Tampa Bay in its 3–2 win against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Point is the youngest NHL player to score at least two goals in a regular-season game played on his birthday since Oct. 4, 2001, when Justin Williams turned 20 and scored a pair of goals for the Flyers in a season-opening victory against the Panthers. Since Tampa Bay entered the NHL in 1992 only two other players produced a two-goal game on their birthday for the Lightning and they did so just over a month apart in 2011: Sean Bergenheim (Feb. 8, age 27) and Mattias Ritola (March 14, age 24).

Werenski elite among teen defensemen

Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski scored his 10th goal of the season in the Blue Jackets’ 5–3 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia. The 19-year-old Werenski is only the fourth NHL defenseman in the last 20 years to score 10 goals or more as a teenager in one season. The other players to do that since 1996–97 were Zach Bogosian for the Thrashers in 2009–10, the Ducks’ Cam Fowler in 2010–11, and the Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad in both 2014–15 and 2015–16. Like Werenski, each was 19 years old at the time he reached the 10-goal mark that season (including both times by Ekblad).

One goal is enough for Coyotes

Rookie Brendan Perlini’s 13th goal of the season represented all of the scoring in the Coyotes’ 1–0 victory over the Avalanche on Monday night. Perlini became the third rookie skater to net a goal in a 1–0 victory this season, joining the Ducks’ Joseph Cramarossa (Feb. 14 at Minnesota) and the Capitals’ Jakub Vrana (March 2 versus New Jersey). Perlini is also the third rookie to accomplish that feat for the Coyotes, along with Krys Kolanos (Oct. 2001 versus Colorado) and Branko Radivojevic (April 2003 against Nashville).