Date: March 19, 2008

Elias Says...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN.com

NBA

CELTICS MAKE A STATEMENT

The Celtics emphatically ended the Rockets' 22-game winning streak, 94-74, in what was the first game in NBA history in which a team on a winning streak of more than 12 games opposed the team with the league's best outright record. Coming off a 93-91 win at San Antonio on Monday, the Celtics became the first NBA team to win road games in Texas on consecutive days since the Warriors won at Dallas and Houston on Dec. 30-31, 2005.

Boston is now 14-2 (.875) in the second game of back-to-backs this season, on pace to set a team record. The Celtics' best mark to date is 18-4 (.818) in 1983-84.

The last time that the Rockets lost: a 97-89 loss to the Jazz on January 27 - a week before the Super Bowl!

Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets

SECOND-HALF BLOWOUT

The Celtics and Rockets were tied, 40-40, at halftime, before Boston out-scored Houston, 54-34, in the second half. You know basketball? What do you think the average final margin is in games that were tied at halftime? In NBA history, of course. You can consult your buddies: Is the answer two points, four points, six points, eight points, or 10 points?

The answer is eight points, in a sample of nearly 2,000 games that were tied at the half. But the Celtics' 20-point victory in such a game went only halfway to the largest rout in league history in a game tied at the half; in 1980, the Nets and the Pistons were knotted, 58-58, at halftime, before New Jersey ran off to a 140-100 victory.

Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets

SUNS NOW A REBOUNDING FORCE

The Suns earned their fifth straight win, beating Portland, 111-98, with Shaquille O'Neal contributing 16 points and 15 rebounds. Prior to Shaq's debut with the team on February 20, the Suns had been out-rebounded in 41 of 53 games this season; but since the big guy joined the lineup, Phoenix has lost the battle of the boards only twice in 14 games.

Phoenix Suns

LAKERS HOLD ON

Turnabout is fair play, but the Mavericks came up just short in their two-point loss to the Lakers. Dallas nearly wiped out a 25-point Los Angeles lead, but Dirk Nowitzki's wild three-point attempt bounced off the glass and the Lakers won, 102-100 - and caused Charles Barkley to have a cow while narrating the highlight because Dirk didn't draw a foul by jumping into airborne defender Lamar Odom.

In December 2002, the Lakers overcame a 30-point Dallas lead to beat the Mavericks, 105-103. No team has overcome a 30-point lead to win an NBA game since then. Dallas just missed matching the largest lead overcome to win an NBA game this season; the Nuggets overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Pacers in Indianapolis, 113-106, on November 10, and six nights later, Philadelphia overcame a 25-point deficit to defeat the Trail Blazers, 92-88.

Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers

425 POINTS IN 3 GAMES!

Even in defeat, the Nuggets continue to light up the scoreboard. While losing, 136-120, to the Pistons, George Karl's crew ran up their tally to 425 points in their last three games. That's the highest point total over three consecutive games, all regulation length, since the Trail Blazers scored 439 points over a three-game span in November 1990. The Blazers' coach during that stretch? Someone who has had his own little run lately Rick Adelman, now head man of the surging Rockets.

Denver Nuggets

EVEN-STEVEN OVER 60 YEARS

The Warriors-Kings series is nearly 60 years old, dating back to the original meeting between the Philadelphia Warriors and the Rochester Royals in Philadelphia on Nov. 11, 1948. The Warriors have called three cities home during that time (Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Oakland), the Kings have played at Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha, and Sacramento.

But coming into their game at Sacramento on Tuesday night, the all-time series between the teams was tied at 174 wins apiece; the Kings went one-up with their 122-105 victory. Only one other NBA matchup ever stood even-steven after as many games as this one: The Pistons and Hawks split their first 358 games (though Detroit is 25-6 vs. Atlanta since then).

Tuesday's game was the 100th between the teams during their time as intrastate rivals (that is, since 1985). The Kings have a 54-46 record vs. Golden State during that time.

Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings

NHL

EIGHT FOR EDMONTON

The Oilers defeated Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes, 8-4, with a scoring display that must have made The Great One think it was the mid-1980s all over again. Actually, it was the 103rd time that the Oilers have scored at least eight goals in a regular-season NHL game; that leaves them one shy of the highest total for any team in the non-Original-Six division. The Flames have scored at least eight goals in 104 regular-season games.

Edmonton Oilers

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Ovechkin

OVECHKIN OVER 100

The first of Alex Ovechkin's pair of first-period assists at Nashville boosted him to the century mark, as he became the first player to reach 100 points this season. It's the second time that The Big O has reached triple figures (he had 106 points as a rookie two seasons ago), matching the total of 100-point seasons produced by all of the other players in the Capitals' 33-season history combined! (Dennis Maruk had 136 points in 1981-82 and Mike Gartner had 102 in 1984-85.)

Washington Capitals

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Kubina

ANOTHER GAME-WINNER FOR KUBINA

Defenseman Pavel Kubina's power play goal at 11:09 of the third broke a 1-1 tie and sent the Maple Leafs on their way to a 3-1 win over the Islanders. It was the third time in Toronto's last four games that Kubina scored the game-winning goal: he had the decisive goal in both ends of the Leafs' home-and-home series with the Flyers last week. Prior to those games, Kubina had scored only two game-winning goals in his two seasons with the Maple Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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Norrena

A HO-HUM SHUTOUT

Blue Jackets goaltender Fredrik Norrena needed to make only 18 saves in his 3-0 shutout win over the Flames. It was the 32nd shutout by Columbus in its seven seasons in the NHL but it was the first one in which the Blue Jackets' opponent had fewer than 20 shots on goal.

Columbus Blue Jackets

TEN IN A ROW

The Flyers' 3-2 win over Atlanta marked their 10th consecutive victory over the Thrashers. The only longer active winning streak by one NHL team against another is San Jose's 11-game streak against Chicago. (San Jose has won 10 straight against Washington, and St. Louis has won its last 10 games against Buffalo.)

Ilya Kovalchuk's goal in the last minute of the third period came too late to make a difference for the Thrashers, but it did make Kovalchuk the second NHL player to reach the 50-goal level this season. (Alex Ovechkin leads the league with 58 goals.) This is the first NHL season in which two players have scored 50 or more goals before the end of March since 1995-96, when three players Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Mogilny each reached the 50-goal mark before the end of February!

Philadelphia Flyers

NCAA Men's Basketball

BRING ON CAROLINA!

Mount St. Mary's made history on Tuesday OK, a bit of history by becoming the first team to win the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament's play-in game after having trailed at halftime. (This was the eighth such game since the tournament was expanded to 65 teams in 2001.) Coppin State held a 34-33 advantage at the half, but the Mount won, 69-60.

Mount St. Mary's now faces North Carolina in Raleigh on Friday. Since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985, the Tar Heels have been a number-one seed on eight previous occasions, and they have won their eight round-of-64 games by an average margin of 24.9 points per game. And the seven previous play-in winners have lost their round-of-64 games by an average of 25.6 points per game.


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