Special to ESPN.com
LAKERS PROVIDE NBA'S BEST FINISH OF SEASON
How many times have you heard it? Only in the NBA does "0:04.3" on the clock cue an announcer to say, "Plenty of time remaining." Mike Breen said it on Friday night in Los Angeles, and you know - he was right on! Facing a 106-102 deficit in the closing seconds, Derek Fisher hit a three-point shot with 0.04.3 remaining, and then after Dwyane Wade missed one and made one from the line, Kobe Bryant banked in a three-pointer as time expired to send the Staples Center into a frenzy as the Lakers notched their eighth straight win, 108-107.
It was the first game in the NBA this season in which the winning team overcame a deficit of at least four points with less than five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. There have been only four other games that fit that description since the start of the year 2000, including one game won by the Lakers over the Kings on Jan. 4, 2007. In that one, the end-of-the-fourth-quarter heroes were Vladimir Radmanovic (making a three-pointer) and Smush Parker (making a driving layup as time expired to send the game into overtime, where the Lakers won it).
LITTLE BIG MAN
Dwyane Wade is only 6'4", but his first-quarter rejection of seven-foot Pau Gasol's field-goal attempt was the 400th blocked shot of his professional career. Since the NBA began keeping track of blocks in 1973-74, only two other players listed at 6'4" or smaller accumulated at least 400 rejections: Dennis Johnson (675 in 1.100 games) and David Thompson (407 in 509 games). Wade reached that milestone on Friday in his 413th game in the league.
VANDEWEGHE FINDS SPOT IN RECORD BOOK
Two days after the Nets set the NBA record of 18 consecutive losses at the start of a season, their new head coach Kiki Vandeweghe set his own record as the Nets defeated the Bobcats, 97-91. Vandeweghe became the first individual who, in his debut game as an NBA head coach, ended a losing streak as long as the Nets' had been. The previous record was held by Johnny Egan, whose Rockets defeated the Knicks, 107-103, ending Houston's 10-game losing streak, in his debut as an NBA head coach on Jan. 21, 1973.
KNICKS OVERCOME HAWKS' 11-0 LEAD TO WIN
The Hawks scored the first 11 points of Friday's game against the Knicks, but the visiting New Yorkers came back to lead, 35-34, at the end of the first quarter and to earn a 114-107 decision. It was the first NBA game since last Christmas Day in which a team that scored the first 10 points of the game wound up losing; last December 25, the Suns, playing at home, took a lead of 11-0 before the Spurs came back to win, 91-90.
The Hawks last lost such a game in 2003, when they scored the first 14 points of a game against the Pacers only to see Indiana win in overtime, 103-99. The Knicks last won such a game in 2001, when the Magic took a 15-0 lead but New York came back for a 95-92 victory.
PAUL PLAYS PHAT, LIKE FAT
Chris Paul led the Hornets on both ends of the floor in their 98-89 win over the Timberwolves. On offense, Paul handed out 15 assists while committing only three turnovers, and on defense he had eight steals. Since the NBA began keeping track of turnovers in 1977-78, only one other player has registered a 15-assist, 8-steal game while turning the ball over fewer than four times. That was Denver's Fat Lever against the Pacers on March 9, 1985 (15 assists, 10 steals, two turnovers).
SIGNATURE GAME FOR BOSH
Chris Bosh scored 31 points and gathered 16 rebounds in the Raptors' overtime win at Washington. It was the third time this season that Bosh had more than 30 points and more than 15 rebounds in the same game. The only other NBA player to do that in any game this season was Danny Granger (Pacers vs. Warriors, Nov. 11).
GARNETT PUTS THUNDER TO SLEEP
Kevin Garnett scored nine straight points in the third quarter to extend the Celtics' nine-point lead (62-53) to an 18-point advantage (71-53) and effectively clinch their victory at Oklahoma City. Garnett had accounted for nine straight points in a game only once previously since moving to Boston; he scored ten in a row against the Pistons on March 5, 2008.
BOOZER GOES 35 AND 13 VS. PACERS
Carlos Boozer had 35 points and 13 rebounds in the Jazz's 96-87 win over the Pacers, marking only the third time in his 450-game NBA career that Boozer has reached both of those levels in the same game. The other occasions both came early in 2007: a 39-point, 15-rebound performance in an overtime loss to the Grizzlies, and a 41-point, 16-rebound job in a victory over the Wizards.
Only two players in the history of the Jazz franchise have had more games with at least 35 points and at least 13 rebounds: Truck Robinson had five such games, and Karl Malone had 60.
FLYERS MAKE FIRST COACHING CHANGE IN THE NHL
The Flyers made the first coaching change of the 2009-10 NHL season when they fired John Stevens on Friday night and replaced him with former Islanders and Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette. This is the latest date for the first coaching switch of an NHL season since 2005-06, when Pittsburgh canned Ed Olczyk on December 15 and hired Michel Therrien. In each of the past three seasons the first change was made in October, including 2006-07, when Philadelphia also pulled the plug first, dumping Ken Hitchcock and hiring... John Stevens!
John Stevens coached 263 regular-season games for the Flyers, fourth-most in team history, behind Fred Shero (554), Mike Keenan (320) and Paul Holmgren (264). Holmgren is the Flyers' general manager and the man who made the decision to replace Stevens.
LANGENBRUNNER SCORES LATE GAME-WINNER
Jamie Langenbrunner deflected a shot by Andy Greene into the net at 19:21 of the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and earn the Devils a 3-2 win over the Lightning. It was the first go-ahead goal in the final minute of the third period in Langenbrunner's 15-year NHL career and it was the first such goal by a Devils player since March 8, 2008, when Zach Parise scored at 19:11 to beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
CAMMALLERI SCORES 3 AS CANADIENS TURN 100
The Canadiens celebrated their 100th anniversary with a pre-game ceremony on Friday night at Bell Centre and then evoked memories of their glory days by beating the Bruins, 5-1, with Michael Cammalleri scoring three goals. It was Cammalleri's second hat trick of the season; he scored three goals against the Rangers on October 24. Cammalleri is the first Canadiens player with multiple hat tricks in one season since 1999-2000, when Brian Savage had two.
2 TIMES 2 EQUALS 4, SQUARED... THEN WILD WINS SHOOTOUT
The Wild beat the Ducks in a shootout on Friday night, after the teams played to a 4-4 stalemate through 65 minutes. In an unusual bit of symmetry, each club had two players score two goals: Minnesota's Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen, and Anaheim's Joffrey Lupul and Bobby Ryan. It was the first game in NHL history in which each team scored exactly four goals and four different players scored twice.
ELLIS FACES 35 SHOTS IN WIN OVER BLACKHAWKS
Dan Ellis stopped 34 of 35 shots in his 4-1 win at Chicago, preserving a 2-1 lead for over 30 minutes until the Predators scored a pair of late insurance goals. Ellis has a 13-5-4 record in 22 career games in which he's faced at least 35 shots on goal, including a 2-0-1 mark this season.