Date: December 31, 2009

Elias Says...

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

NBA

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James

THE KING CELEBRATES

LeBron James scored 48 points on his 25th birthday as he sparked the Cavaliers to a comeback win over the Hawks. Only two other players in NBA history scored as many points in a game on their birthday as James: Shaquille O┬┐Neal (61 points on his 28th birthday in 2000) and Dominique Wilkins (53 points in 1987 at age 27). The only other player with a 40-point game on his birthday at age 25 or younger was Mark Aguirre (40 on his 24th birthday in 1983).

It was the third time that James celebrated his birthday by scoring at least 30 points in a game (33 points on Dec. 30, 2006, and 38 on that date last year). The only other active NBA player with three 30-point games on his birthday is Shaquille O'Neal, who did it for three different teams: the Magic (1994), Lakers (2000) and Heat (2006). The Cavaliers are scheduled to play at Milwaukee on March 6, 2010, when Shaq will have 38 candles on his cake.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks

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Varejao

VAREJAO'S FIRST THREE-POINTER LIFTS CAVS

Anderson Varejao's three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner for the Cavaliers. It was the first three-point field goal of Varejao's NBA career, after 18 missed shots from beyond the arc. Al Jefferson (0-for-18) has the most career three-point attempts among active NBA players who have never made one.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks

CAVALIERS BEAT HAWKS ON BACK-TO-BACK NIGHTS

The Cavaliers completed a rare sweep when they beat the Hawks on Wednesday, following a win in Atlanta the previous night. Cleveland was the second team in the last 30 seasons to record wins on consecutive days against the same opponent with a winning percentage of .700 or better. Atlanta was the losing team in both instances. That might not seem too strange, but this certainly will: It last occurred only 13 months ago (Nov. 14-15, 2008), and the winning team was the Nets.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks

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Love

LOVE THOSE REBOUNDS

Kevin Love grabbed 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves in their loss to the Jazz. Love has had at least 10 rebounds in each of his last 12 games (the longest such streak by an NBA player this season), including each of the 11 games he's started this season. Love is the first NBA player with at least ten rebounds in each of his first 11 starts of a season since New Jersey's Jayson Williams began 1996-97 with a 21-game streak.

Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz

SUNS DOMINATE CELTICS

The Suns rolled over the Celtics, 116-98, after leading by as many as 23 points. It was the first time this season that Boston trailed by more than 16 points in a game. Before Wednesday's defeat, the Celtics were the only NBA team that hadn't trailed by at least 20 points in any game this season.

Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics

NETS TAKE LEAD IN ALL-TIME SERIES AGAINST NEW YORK

Wednesday's victory over the Knicks gave the Nets an advantage in the all-time series against their cross-river rival. The teams entered the game with 79 wins apiece, but don't fret if you're a fan of that type of thing. There will be at least four more NBA games this season pairing teams that are tied in their all-time series of at least 150 games: the Wizards at Atlanta on Jan. 13 (132-132), Bucks at New York on Feb. 5 (89 -89), Pistons at Golden State on Feb. 27 (141-141) and Rockets at Oklahoma City on March 24 (93-93).

New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks

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Randolph

RANDOLPH CONTINUES STREAK OF POINTS AND REBOUNDS

Zach Randolph scored 28 points and gathered 13 rebounds for the Grizzlies in their victory at Indiana. It was Randolph's sixth straight game with at least 23 points and 13 or more rebounds, the longest such streak for any NBA player since Antonio McDyess did it for Denver in 2000-01.

Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers

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Roy

BRANDON AND CLYDE

Brandon Roy's 25-point performance against the Clippers was his 14th consecutive game with at least 20 points. It's the longest streak for a Portland player since Clyde Drexler in 1987-88 (27 straight 20-point games).

Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers

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Bosh

BOSH AND JACKSON PERFECT FROM THE STRIPE

Chris Bosh and Stephen Jackson both went 11-for-11 from the free-throw line as the Raptors defeated the Bobcats. It was the first NBA game this season in which two players were perfect from the line, each with more than ten attempts. Bosh and Jackson were the first to do it since Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse (11-for-11) and Sacramento's Kevin Martin (13-for-13) on "leap day" (Feb. 29) in 2008.

Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Bobcats

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West

WEST SCORES FOR SECOND STRAIGHT NIGHT

David West contributed 21 points to the Hornets' 95-91 win over the Heat, one night after he scored 44 points in a loss to the Rockets. West's career scoring average in the second of games on consecutive days (14.2 PPG) is 1.8 points per game lower than his scoring average in all other games (16.0). That's the third-largest decrease of its kind for any active NBA player who has played at least 100 pairs of back-to-back games. Carmelo Anthony (-2.2 PPG) and Vince Carter (-1.8) have the larger decreases.

New Orleans Hornets, Miami Heat

LATE WAKEUP CALL IN ORLANDO

The Magic overcame an eight-point deficit at halftime in their 117-92 win over the Bucks. It was Orlando's fourth straight win in games in which it was outscored in both the first and second periods. That matches the longest winning streak of its kind for an NBA team in any of the last three seasons. Since 2007-08, the only other team with a four-game winning streak under those circumstances was the Magic, a little more than a year ago (Nov. 14-Dec. 20, 2008).

Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks

NHL

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Brodeur

BRODEUR SHUTS DOWN THE CHAMPS

Martin Brodeur beat the Penguins 2-0 in Newark on Wednesday night, after posting a 4-0 victory in Pittsburgh the last time he faced them, nine days earlier (Dec. 21). Brodeur is only the third goaltender in the last 40 years to record shutouts in consecutive games against the defending Stanley Cup champion in one season. The Flyers' Bob Froese blanked the Islanders twice in a row in 1982-83, and the Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov did the same against the Avalanche in 2001-02

Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils

CANADIENS WORK OVERTIME ON ROAD TRIP

The Canadiens' 2-1 overtime victory in Tampa was Montreal's third OT win on its current seven-game road trip (which concludes with a game against the Panthers on New Year's Eve). They're the third team in NHL history to record three overtime wins on one road trip. The other clubs to do that were the 2005-06 Flyers (on a marathon 11-game road swing) and the 2008-09 Devils (on a five-game trip).

Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Deslauriers

THIRD ASSIST FOR ROOKIE GOALTENDER

Jeff Deslauriers ended his personal six-game losing streak (and the Oilers' streak of seven consecutive losses) with a 3-1 win against the Maple Leafs. He made an offensive contribution as well, recording his third assist of the season on Edmonton's last goal. Deslauriers' three assists are the most by a rookie goaltender in one season since the Flyers' Robert Esche picked up three assists in 2000-01.

Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs

BIG SHUTOUT WIN FOR FLYERS

The Flyers' 6-0 win at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night was their largest shutout victory ever against the Rangers - regular-season or playoffs. They've blanked the Rangers by a 5-0 score on two occasions: Oct. 20, 1999 at Philadelphia (by former Ranger John Vanbiesbrouck), and in the 1987 playoffs at MSG (April 16, Ron Hextall).

Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers

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Gagne

GAGNE'S SECOND HAT TRICK AT THE GARDEN

Simon Gagne scored the final three goals in the Flyers' win in New York. It was the third hat trick of Gagne's NHL career and his second at Madison Square Garden. (He scored three goals in the Flyers' 6-5 loss there on March 2, 2002.) Gagne is only the third visiting player to record two regular-season hat tricks at the current Garden, which opened in February 1968. The others are Mario Lemieux and Peter Bondra.

New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers

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Rask

ANOTHER SHUTOUT FOR RASK

Bruins rookie Tuukka Rask recorded his second shutout of the season with a 4-0 win against the Thrashers. Rask is 6-1-1 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .954 save percentage over his last eight starts, allowing two or fewer goals in each game.

Boston Bruins

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Anderson

ANDERSON FEELS AT HOME ON THE ROAD

Craig Anderson and the Avalanche survived a third-period rally by the Senators and held on for a 4-3 victory in Ottawa. Anderson has a 29-11-5 road record over the last two calendar years (2008 and 2009), after posting a 6-22-5 mark on the road from his NHL debut in 2002 through 2007.

Colorado Avalanche


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