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FROM BRADSHAW TO STAFFORD ... THE STREAK CONTINUES
Matthew Stafford was placed on the Lions' injured-reserve list on Thursday ending his season. Stafford, the first player chosen in the 2009 draft, had a 2-8 record as a starter for Detroit, preserving a streak that's spanned four decades. Since 1967, the first year of the common draft, no quarterback selected with the first overall pick has had a winning record as a starter during his rookie season. The streak began with Terry Bradshaw, who was taken with the first choice of the 1970 draft.
DELHOMME PLACED ON INJURED-RESERVE LIST
Jake Delhomme's season began with a four-interception game against Philadelphia and it ended Thursday when the Panthers placed him on the injured-reserve list. Delhomme threw 321 passes this season and 18 of them were intercepted. His rate of one INT every 17.8 passes is the second-worst for any quarterback in any season of at least 300 passes in this decade, ahead of Mark Sanchez, who has thrown an interception every 16.5 passes this year.
PAUL PIERCE ENDS DECADE RANKED FOURTH IN POINTS SCORED
Paul Pierce is expected to be out of the Celtics' lineup until January because of a knee injury. Pierce scored 17,905 points since January 1, 2000, the fourth-most for any NBA player in this decade, behind Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Allen Iverson.
CAVALIERS HOLD KINGS SCORELESS IN OT
The Cavaliers outscored the Kings in overtime on Wednesday, 13-0. Only one other team in NBA history has scored 13 points without allowing a single point in an overtime period; Portland outscored Houston 17-0 for a 113-96 win in 1983.
A TRIPLE-DOUBLE FOR JAMES
LeBron James had his 26th career triple-double on Wednesday in Sacramento, 15 of which have come on the road. Of the 12 other players in NBA history with at least 25 triple-doubles, the only other one with more on the road than at home is Larry Bird (24 at home, 35 on road).
SMITH DOESN'T NEED TO START TO SCORE 40
J.R. Smith scored 41 points as a substitute in Denver's win over Atlanta on Wednesday. Smith, who has had a game of 40 or more points off the bench in each of the last two seasons, is the only active player with three 40-point games off the bench.
RAPTORS WIN BIG IN DETROIT
The Raptors, 13-17 at the start of the day, won by 30 points in Detroit on Wednesday, 94-64. It was only the second time that Detroit has lost by 30 points at home to a team that entered the game with a losing record. On Jan. 22, 1981, the Bulls, who were 22-27 starting the day, won in Detroit, 125-92.
The Pistons' total of 64 points matched a franchise low for points in any game in the shot-clock era (which started in 1954), and they actually won one of the two other games (64-62 against the Jazz, March 13, 2005).
HOWARD DOES NOT MISS YAO
Dwight Howard grabbed 20 rebounds in Orlando's 102-87 victory over Houston on Wednesday. It was the second time in three games that Howard pulled down 20 boards and it was his fifth such game of the season, the most in the NBA. The only other players with more than two 20-rebound games this season are Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah (three apiece).
Entering the game Houston had won its last seven games in Orlando. But things were different this time around, with Yao Ming sidelined. Yao has dominated Howard in nine meetings, outscoring Howard by nearly a 2-to-1 margin (23.6 to 12.2 PPG), and also exceeding Howard in rebounds (10.4 to 9.8 per game) and blocked shots (2.1 to 1.7 per game).
WIZARDS DON'T NEED OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS TO WIN
The Wizards had only one offensive rebound on Wednesday, their lowest in any game since the NBA began compiling offensive rebounds in 1973.
ELLIS GOES THE DISTANCE LIKE BOB GIBSON
Monta Ellis played his sixth complete game of the season on Wednesday. He's already tied the most complete games for any player in any of the last five seasons; Ellis had six in 2007-08 and Allen Iverson had six in 2005-06. The last player with more was LeBron James, who had 10 in 2004-05. (By the way, 20 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams had fewer than six complete games from their starting staff this past season).
HOWARD FILLS IN ADMIRABLY
Juwan Howard had 12 rebounds in Portland's win over San Antonio on Wednesday, matching his most in any of the 31 career games in which he has played against Tim Duncan. Howard also had 12 rebounds for Washington on March 10, 2000, back in his fourth game against Duncan.
BAYLESS SCORES 31 IN FIRST CAREER START
Jerryd Bayless scored 31 points on Wednesday in his first career start. Over the last 15 seasons, the only other NBA player with that many points in his first career start was the Warriors' Anthony Morrow, who had 37 points in his first start last season.
SUNS SHOOT WELL AND LOSE
The Suns lost to the Thunder on Wednesday night despite shooting 50 percent from the floor. Phoenix was 14-1 this season prior to Wednesday when making at least half of their field-goal attempts. Their only other such loss this season came on December 12 when they shot 54.5 percent in a loss at Denver.
THEY DIDN'T ADVERTISE IT THIS WAY
Entering Wednesday's game in New Jersey the Nets were 2-26 and the Timberwolves were 5-24. It was only the fourth game in NBA history, and the first since 1970, between teams with at least 24 losses apiece prior to Christmas.
LOVE MAKING MOST OF TIME
Kevin Love had 16 rebounds in 34 minutes on Wednesday, giving him nine consecutive games of double-digit rebounds despite playing no more than 35 minutes in any game during the stretch. It's the longest streak like that since Paul Silas had 10 straight games of 10 or more rebounds in 35 or fewer minutes for the Celtics early in the 1972-73 season.
ONE FROM TUESDAY
Yesterday we noted that Joakim Noah and David Lee, who each tied a career-high with 21 rebounds in the Knicks' win over the Bulls Tuesday night, were the first opposing players with more than 20 boards apiece since Dikembe Mutombo and Donyell Marshall did it nearly 10 years ago.
Here's another twist on that same note: Lee and Noah, who both attended the University of Florida, were only the second pair of players from the same school to grab at least 20 rebounds each as opposing players in an NBA game. Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Bridges, both from Kansas, did it three times (1966, 1967, and 1969).
IN THE OLDEN DAYS HE WOULD'VE BEEN CALLED "SUITCASE"
Bill Guerin equaled his single-game career high with four points (two goals, two assists) in the Penguins' 8-2 rout of the Senators. It was Guerin's ninth four-point game and his first for Pittsburgh. The Penguins are the seventh different team for which Guerin has scored four points in one game, extending his own NHL record. He also had four-point games for the Devils, Oilers, Bruins, Stars (three times), Blues and Sharks.
OVECHKIN PREYS ON A FAVORITE TARGET
Alex Ovechkin scored the final goal in the Capitals' 5-2 win against Ryan Miller and the Sabres. Ovechkin has scored 11 goals against Miller (in 15 games), his highest career total against any goaltender who does not play for one of Washington's Southeast Division rivals. Ovechkin has scored 16 times against Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen and 11 times against Carolina's Cam Ward.
RED WINGS BLANKED AGAIN IN DETROIT
The Red Wings were shut out for the fourth time in their last nine home games when they lost 3-0 to the Blackhawks on Wednesday. Before this stretch began with a 2-0 loss to Atlanta on November 25, the Red Wings had been shut out in only four of their last 249 regular-season games at Joe Louis Arena.
BACKSTROM CAN'T LOSE AT HOME TO OILERS
There are few sure things in life but it seems there's at least one certainty in the NHL: When Niklas Backstrom plays a home game against the Oilers, he always wins. Backstrom's 3-1 win against Edmonton on Wednesday was his 11th win in 11 career games against the Oilers at Xcel Energy Center. He has allowed only 12 goals in those 11 games (1.08 GAA), with four shutouts and four one-goal games.
Backstrom's streak is the longest start-of-career home winning streak against one team by an NHL goaltender since Patrick Roy won his first 11 home decisions against the Jets/Coyotes (1985-1997).
BIG FIRST PERIOD FOR MONTREAL
The Canadiens outscored the Hurricanes, 4-1, in the first period en route to a 5-1 road victory. It was only the second time in the last 11 seasons that Montreal scored more than three goals in the first period of a road game. The other instance was also in a game at Raleigh, on Oct. 26, 2007, when the Canadiens had a 5-1 lead through the first 20 minutes of a game they went on to win, 7-4.
FIVE SHUTOUTS FOR BRYZGALOV
Ilya Bryzgalov posted his league-leading fifth shutout of the season with his 4-0 win against the Ducks. Bryzgalov is the first goaltender in Jets/Coyotes franchise history to record five shutouts in one season before the end of December. The previous high for shutouts in one season through Dec. 31 by a Winnipeg or Phoenix netminder was Sean Burke's four in 2001-02.
PROSPAL ENDS DROUGHT
Vaclav Prospal ended a 14-game goalless streak with a pair of goals in the Rangers' 4-1 win over the Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Before Wednesday's game, Prospal had not scored since Florida made its last visit to MSG (Nov. 21). It was his longest drought since he went goalless in 20 consecutive games for the Lightning in November/December 2006.
THIS IS GETTING REPETITIVE ... REPETITIVE ... REPETITIVE
It was deja vu for Mike Richards when he scored two goals and one assist in the Flyers' 5-2 victory in Tampa. Richards posted identical totals in each of his last two games against the Lightning (2-1-3 on both January 30 and November 2). He has scored two goals in four of his last five games vs. Tampa Bay.
SAVARD POWERS BOSTON TO WIN
Marc Savard scored one goal and two assists (all on power plays) to lead the Bruins to a 6-4 win over his former team, the Thrashers. It was the first time that a Boston player recorded three power play points in one game since Savard did that in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2007 (also one goal and two assists).