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THIS JUST IN: SUNS ARE HOT
The Suns shot 51 percent from the floor in their dominant victory in Philadelphia, the ninth consecutive game in which Phoenix has made at least half of its field-goal attempts. That's the longest streak by any NBA team in nearly 14 years - since the Pacers had a nine-game streak of that type in April 1994.
This is the second-longest streak of shooting 50-percent or better in the Suns' 40-year history. Back in the fall of 1978, John MacLeod's Suns (think Walter Davis, Paul Westphal and Alvan Adams) shot 50 percent or better from the floor in each of 11 successive games.
PACERS' RUN FUELED BY SCORING FRENZY
The Pacers continued their triple-digit ways with their key 123-115 win over the Nets, the eighth straight game in which they have scored at least 100 points. The Pacers hadn't had a streak of 100s that long since an eight-game stretch in April 1994.
DUNLEAVY APPROACHING 3-POINT SHOOTING MARK
Mike Dunleavy made five of six shots from three-point range in the Pacers' win over the Nets. Dunleavy is now 39 for 68 on three-pointers during the month of March - a cool 57.4 percent. With one game remaining this month - against the Heat on Monday - Dunleavy could challenge the league's highest-ever three-point shooting percentage in a month of at least 40 three-pointers: Hersey Hawkins shot 58.3 percent (49 for 84) for Seattle in March 1997. (That 1996-97 season was during the short-lived era in which the NBA experimented with a shorter three-point shooting distance.)
WIZARDS MASTERS OF ROAD COMEBACK
The Wizards rebounded from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Kings in Sacramento, two nights after overcoming a 17-point Sonics lead to win in Seattle. Last month, the Wizards won in New Orleans after the Hornets had led by 15 points and then won in Chicago after the Bulls had held a 20-point lead.
No other NBA team has won as many as four road games this season by overcoming deficits of 15-or-more points.
BIBBY COMES THROUGH WHEN IT COUNTS
Leadership comes in many forms. For the Hawks, you can spell it "B-I-B-B-Y." Mike Bibby scored 30 points and provided eight assists while shooting 11-of-15 from the floor in Atlanta's three-point victory over the Bulls, lengthening its lead for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Bibby picked a great time to play a great game. It was the first game of his 713-game pro career in which he scored had as many as 30 points and eight assists while shooting for such a high percentage (73.3 percent).
BRYANT: 53 IN A LOSS
Kobe Bryant's total of 53 points was the NBA's single-game high for the season, and it was only the fifth game of 50-or-more points in the league this season. (Bryant and LeBron James each have two such games, and Allen Iverson has the other.) That equals the number of 50-point games (five) that Bryant had all by himself in March of 2007. (In all, there were 18 occasions last season when an NBA player scored at least 50 points in a game.)
The Lakers are now 16-7 in the 23 regular-season games in which Bryant has scored 50-or-more points.
CELTICS FILL OUT THEIR BINGO CARD
By beating the Hornets, the Celtics became just the second NBA team to defeat each of the 29 other teams this season, joining the Jazz.
How hot were the Celtics? They missed their last two field-goal attempts in the 112-92 victory to finish with a 59.5 field-goal percentage while shooting over 90 percent from the foul line. The Celtics just missed a rare 60-percent, 90-percent shooting game: there has been only one such game in the NBA over the last five seasons (the Suns did it last April), and the Celtics haven't had such a game since 1992.
DERON WILLIAMS JOINS WILT, 2 OTHERS
Deron Williams scored 32 points, was credited with 10 assists and shot 13-of-15 from the floor in the Jazz's 121-101 win over the Clippers. It's the third time this season that Williams has enjoyed a 30-point, 10-assist game.
But in the history of the NBA, only three other players have coupled a 30-point, 10-assist game with a field-goal percentage as high as Deron's (just under 87 percent) on Friday night. Ray Allen was the last player to do it (33 points, 10 assists, 13-for-15 for the Bucks), in 1999; Lionel Hollins did it (33 points, 12 assists, 14-for-16) for Portland in 1979; and Wilt Chamberlain did it four times with the 76ers during the 1960s.
CANADIENS' MIRACLE FINISH
The Canadiens trailed the Sabres, 3-1, with less than three minutes to play in the third period but Tomas Plekanec tied the game with two goals and Christopher Higgins won the game for Montreal with a goal at 3:38 of overtime. It was only the second win in Canadiens history in which they had trailed by two goals with under three minutes remaining in the third period.
The previous instance was a 4-3 overtime win over the Blues in Montreal on Dec. 10, 1997. In that game the Canadiens were down, 3-1, until goals by Stephane Quintal (at 17:05 of the third period) and Saku Koivu (at 17:25) tied the score at 3-3, and Vincent Damphousse's goal 55 seconds into overtime earned the win.
BOYES HITS THE BIG FOUR-OH
Brad Boyes scored his 39th and 40th goals of the season, including the winner in overtime, to lead St. Louis to a 4-3 victory in Detroit. Boyes is the first Blues player to score 40 goals in one season since Scott Young had exactly 40 in 2000-01.
The five-season span between the 40-goal seasons by Young and Boyes matched the longest stretch without a 40-goal scorer in Blues history. St. Louis did not have a player reach the 40-goal plateau in any of its first five seasons in the NHL (1967-68 through 1971-72), a drought broken when Garry Unger scored 41 goals in 1972-73.
IN BASKETBALL, THEY'D CALL HIM A "CHUCKER"
Eric Staal had one goal, two assists and a whopping 12 shots on goal in the Hurricanes' 7-1 rout of the Thrashers. The 12 shots on goal were a single-game record for the Hartford/Carolina franchise. The old mark of 11 shots in one game had been done nine times by seven different Whalers or Hurricanes players, including twice by Staal, who was also the last to do so (Jan. 26, 2007 vs. Washington).
DEVILS MAKE IT A DOZEN
The Devils extended their home winning streak against the Flyers to 12 games with a 5-4 shootout victory on Friday night. It's the second-longest current home winning streak by one NHL team against another; Carolina has won its last 13 home games against Florida. Martin Brodeur has been in goal for all 12 games of the Devils' home winning streak vs. Philadelphia, posting a 1.31 goals-against average and allowing only 16 goals on 315 shots.
ELLIS SETS TEAM RECORD
Nashville's Dan Ellis stopped all 43 shots on goal in his 2-0 shutout win over the Blue Jackets. That's the highest total of saves by a Predators goaltender in a shutout in the team's nine seasons in the NHL. Two other Nashville goaltenders made at least 40 saves while recording a shutout: Tomas Vokoun in February 2006 vs. Chicago (40 saves) and Chris Mason in November 2006 vs. Colorado (42 saves).
NCAA Men's Basketball
FOUR GAMES, NONE CLOSE
The four NCAA Tournament games on Friday night were decided by margins of 20, 18, 17 and 15 points. The average victory margin - 17.5 points per game was the highest in Tournament history on any four-game day in the Round of 16. The old mark: an average winning margin of 16.75 points on March 25, 1993.
CURRY 4TH TO SCORE 30 IN EACH OF FIRST 4 TOURNEY GAMES
Stephen Curry's 33-point performance vs. Wisconsin made him only the fourth player in history to reach the 30-point mark in each of his first four NCAA Division I Men's Tournament games. (Curry scored 30 points in his lone game in last year's tournament, and has reached that level in each of his three games this year.) Curry tied the record shared by Clyde Lovellette of Kansas (1952), Utah's Jerry Chambers (1966), and Purdue's Glenn Robinson (1993-94).
DAVIDSON ENDS LONG SOUTHERN CONFERENCE DROUGHT
Davidson's 73-56 win over Wisconsin marked the first victory in the Round of 16 (or later) by a school from the Southern Conference since VMI's Sweet 16 win over DePaul in 1976. The only conference that has currently endured a longer drought since its last win in the Round of 16 is the Ohio Valley Conference (37 years since Western Kentucky defeated Kentucky in 1971).
And Davidson did it with a flourish: Its margin of victory was the largest in tournament history in the Round of 16 for any double-digit seed.
FREE THROWS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' FREE THROWS
Who cares if Memphis can hit free throws? John Calipari will take a 50-20 halftime lead any time, any place. His team rode that first-half bulge to a 92-74 victory over Michigan State. Over the last 25 tournaments in the Round of 16 or later, only one other team went to its locker room at the half leading by 30-or-more points: Kentucky had a 60-26 lead over Wake Forest in a Round of 16 game in 1993 en route to a 103-69 victory.
LONGHORNS WIN IN HOUSTON
Texas's 82-62 victory over Stanford was not exactly a surprise and we're not saying that simply because Texas entered the tournament as a number-two seed while Stanford was seeded third.
We say it wasn't surprising because the game was played in Houston. Teams playing in their home state in the Round of 16 have now won 11 of 12 games against lower-seeded out-of-state opponents since 1995, the sole exception being Missouri's victory over UCLA in 2002 in a game played at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, some 300 miles from the Bruins' campus.