Date: March 25, 2008

Elias Says...

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

NBA

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Odom

ODOM'S RARE GAME-WINNER

Lamar Odom's driving layup with nine seconds remaining in overtime put the Lakers ahead to stay and Kobe Bryant added two free throws to seal a 123-119 win over the Warriors in Oakland. Believe it or not, that was the first time this season that Odom had put the Lakers ahead not ahead to stay, but merely put them ahead in the final two minutes of either the fourth quarter or of an overtime period. (A total of 146 other NBA players have put their teams ahead in those circumstances this season.)

Odom had 22 rebounds against the Warriors on Sunday in Los Angeles and had 21 on Monday in Oakland. Only one other NBA player this season has had 20-rebound games on consecutive days (Dwight Howard on December 28 and 29). The last Lakers player to do it was Vlade Divac on Feb. 24-25, 1995.

Odom also scored 23 points, and became the first Lakers player other than a center to enjoy a 20/20 game in more than 34 years since Happy Hairston had 22 points and 26 rebounds in a two-point win over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Bucks in Milwaukee on Feb. 27, 1974.

Los Angeles Lakers

76ERS DO IT AGAIN

The 76ers trailed at Boston, 80-69, when Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young executed a three-point play with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. That started the comeback, and the visitors rallied with an inspiring 95-90 victory.

Remarkably, that was the fifth time this season that the 76ers have won a game in which they overcame a fourth-quarter, double-digit deficit. No other NBA team has produced as many as four such victories this season and the 76ers didn't win a single game in that manner all last season!

Philadelphia 76ers

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Smith

SMITH MAXES OUT

Yes, that boxscore line is correct: J.R. Smith scored 27 points in only 21 minutes of action in the Nuggets' 120-106 triumph in Memphis. No other player in the NBA this season has scored as many as 27 points in 21 minutes or less. And only one other player in the Nuggets' 32-year NBA history has scored so many points in so little time: Alex English scored 28 points in 21 minutes in a blowout win over the Mavericks in 1984.

Denver Nuggets

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Alston

ALSTON KEEPS IT UP

Think Rafer Alston is having fun yet? Skip To My Lou poured in a game-high 28 points in the Rockets' 108-100 win over the Kings. It was the fifth game this month in which Alston has scored 20-or-more points the most 20-point games he has had in any month in his NBA career. (His old high: four 20-point games with Toronto in November 2004.)

Houston Rockets

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Hamilton

PISTONS WIN WITHOUT HAMILTON

The Pistons took the court on Monday against a Phoenix team that had won seven straight games, and without their All-Star guard Richard Hamilton, who missed a game for the first time since November 2. So instead of starting the NBA's only five-man combination Hamilton, Billups, Prince, McDyess and Wallace that has played 1,000 minutes as a unit this season, the Pistons started a unit, including Arron Afflalo for Hamilton, that had logged less than 60 minutes of playing time together.

The result? Detroit won, 110-105, in overtime, with Chauncey Billups playing a season-high 45 minutes, 12 seconds. In fact, only one other Pistons player has logged that much playing time in any game this season: Hamilton played 45 minutes, 49 seconds in the Pistons' only other overtime game this season a 103-100 win at Charlotte on January 12.

Detroit Pistons

MORE KNICKS HISTORY

It's not our way to re-state the obvious, but sometimes you even have to put the obvious into its proper historic perspective.

The Knicks lost their seventh straight home game, this one to the Nets, 106-91, allowing New Jersey to break its nine-game road losing streak. In the Knicks' last home game, they fell to the Grizzlies, 120-106, as Memphis ended its 18-game road losing streak. The Knicks became only the second team in NBA history to lose two consecutive home games to teams that were working on road losing streaks of at least nine games; In March of 1989, the Clippers lost consecutive home games to the Heat (breaking Miami's 18-game road losing streak) and the Hornets (snapping Charlotte's 10-game road losing streak).

New York Knicks

TRIPLE-DIGIT SCORES ARE BACK IN THE NBA

Have you noticed? In each of the NBA's five Monday-through-Sunday weeks since the All-Star Break, teams have averaged at least 100 points per game:

week starting Feb. 18 102.6
week starting Feb. 25 100.9
week starting March 3 103.8
week starting March 10 101.9
week starting March 17 100.3


Get this: Prior to the current five-week streak, the NBA hadn't had as many as two consecutive weeks in which its teams averaged 100 points per game since a six-week stretch early in the 1995-96 season. Why the current streak? Here's our guess: The many high-profile roster moves right around the All-Star Break have left their mark on team defense, as so many teams try to integrate new players into their rotations.

Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers

NHL

MILESTONE FOR THE CANADIENS

The Canadiens jumped out to a 7-1 lead over the Senators and withstood four fourth-period goals to defeat Ottawa, 7-5. It was the first time in 87 regular-season games between the teams that the Canadiens had scored that many goals since the Senators' franchise's birth in 1992. (If anyone out there remembers any of the Canadiens' seven games scoring seven-or-more goals against the original Ottawa Senators the most recent was in 1930 please let us know!)

But if you like round numbers, the more telling figure is that Monday's game was the 400th in which the Canadiens have scored seven-or-more goals in regular-season competition. Montreal is the first team in NHL history to reach the 400 mark; the Bruins (367 games with at least seven goals) are the runners-up in that category.

Montreal Canadiens

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Malkin

SUPRESS MALKIN, BEAT THE PENGUINS

Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, the second-leading scorer in the NHL this season, was held without a point for only the eighth time in his last 37 games when the Penguins lost 4-1 to the Islanders. Pittsburgh is 0-6-2 in the last eight games in which Malkin was held off the scoresheet, and all six of those regulation losses were by margins of three or four goals.

Pittsburgh Penguins

MLB

DAISUKE JOINS THE BABE

Daisuke Matsuzaka will be the seventh pitcher coming off his rookie season to start a season opener for the defending World Series champion. The first six were Joe Bush (1914 Athletics), Babe Ruth (1916 Red Sox), Ted Wilks (1945 Cardinals), Tim Belcher (1989 Dodgers), Livan Hernandez (1998 Marlins), and John Lackey (2003 Angels).

Boston Red Sox

NATHAN'S A KEEPER

The Twins signed Joe Nathan to a contract that runs through 2011 with a club option for 2012 and why not? In his first four years with the Twins, Nathan accumulated 160 saves while averaging 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

Only eight other pitchers in big-league history have averaged 40 saves per season over a four-year span, and only one of those eight pitchers did it while fashioning a strikeout rate as high as Nathan's. (Eric Gagne had 160 saves while averaging 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings from 2002 through 2005.)

Minnesota Twins

WOOD TO CLOSE

Lou Piniella's announcement that Kerry Wood would start the season as the Cubs' closer was one of the more intriguing decisions of the spring. Pitching an inning in relief isn't exactly the same thing as pitching the first inning as a starter, but it's interesting to note these statistics drawn from Wood's 178 major-league starts:

In the first inning:4.25 ERA9.6 strikeouts per 9 innings
In subsequent innings:3.59 ERA10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings

Chicago Cubs


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