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HOWARD: "I'M SUPERMAN!"
Dwight Howard earned bragging rights to the Superman nickname for at least one day, scoring 22 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the Magic's 101-95 win over the Cavaliers. Howard was only the second center to start against Shaquille O'Neal and record a 20/15 game this season. Brook Lopez did it for the Nets on December 15 (22 points, 15 rebounds).
SHAQ: "NO, I'M SUPERMAN!"
But if you take a close look at the numbers, Shaquille O'Neal might have a legitimate claim to the name as well. Shaq outscored Howard, 15-12, while the two players were both on the court. He also made 9 of his 10 field-goal attempts, including his first eight of the game. That matched O'Neal's highest field-goal percentage in one game over the past four seasons (minimum: 10 FGA).
NUGGETS BLITZ CELTICS EARLY
The Nuggets outscored the Celtics, 37-19, in the first period of a 114-105 victory at Denver. It was the highest first-quarter point total against Boston since the Wizards scored 39 points in the opening period more than three years (Jan. 20, 2007).
NUGGETS DEFEAT CELTICS DESPITE STRUGGLING AT THE LINE
The Nuggets posted a nine-point win over the Celtics despite missing 15 of 40 free throws. Over the last three seasons, Boston has lost only one other game in which its opponent missed at least 15 foul shots, and that was also at Denver (a 124-118 Nuggets win last February).
3 GUARDS TIMES 20 POINTS EQUALS OVERTIME WIN FOR PISTONS
Richard Hamilton (27 points), Ben Gordon (21), and Rodney Stuckey (20) all reached the 20-point mark in the Pistons' 109-101 overtime victory against the Spurs. Gordon, Stuckey, and Will Bynum all scored in the 20s in a victory over the Magic in early November. Those are the only games this season in which three guards from the same team all scored at least 20 points. Prior to this season, no trio of Pistons backcourt players had done so since Vinnie Johnson, Joe Dumars, and Isiah Thomas in 1989.
DURANT SEALS WIN WITH CLUTCH FREE THROWS
Kevin Durant scored 10 of the Thunder's last 12 points, including 6-for-6 from the foul line in the final minute, in Sunday's 109-107 victory at Minnesota. Durant has made 39 of his last 44 foul shots (89%) in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime with the margin of the game within five points.
COLLISON FILLS PAUL'S SHOES PERFECTLY
Darren Collison scored 26 points in the Hornets' 102-94 win over the Rockets. Collison has averaged 24.0 points over his last six games to rank seventh in the NBA during that time. That matches the scoring average recorded by Chris Paul in his last seven games (Jan. 18-29) before suffering a left knee injury that required surgery, providing Collison with increased playing time.
REMEMBER DON NELSON AS A SECOND-YEAR COACH?
An entire generation of Warriors fans never saw a win like the one that Golden State posted over the Hawks on Sunday night. The Warriors trailed, 90-73, at the end of the third quarter, then rallied for a 108-104 victory. It was the first time in 32 years that Golden State won a game in which it trailed by 15 or more points heading to the fourth period. Their last such win was at the Kemper Arena over the Kansas City Kings on March 12, 1978. At that time, Don Nelson was a second-year NBA head coach for the Bucks. Stephen Curry, who led the W's with 32 points on Sunday night, would be born 10 years and 2 days later.
GRIZZLIES STAKE NETS TO BIG LEAD, RALLY FOR VICTORY
The Grizzlies rallied from a 49-31 deficit in the second quarter for a 104-94 win at New Jersey. That was the largest deficit that Memphis erased en route to a double-digit victory since moving from Vancouver in 2001 (The Grizzlies overcame a 23-point deficit to defeat the Nets, 97-86, at Vancouver in January 2001).
NASH DISHES 17 IN SUNS' VICTORY
Steve Nash recorded 17 assists in the Suns' 104-88 win over the Kings. It was the 33rd time that Nash was credited with 17 or more assists in a game, tying Kevin Johnson for the sixth-highest total in NBA history. That might be as far as the 36-year-old Nash climbs up that particular ladder. The next rung is occupied by Isiah Thomas, with 42 such games.
REMARKABLE RAFALSKI SCORES 2 MORE IN USA'S WIN OVER CANADA
Brian Rafalski, who scored the last two goals in Thursday's 6-1 win over Norway, scored the first two goals for the U.S. in Sunday's 5-3 victory over Canada. Rafalski has played 10 seasons in the NHL, and only once during that time did he score even two consecutive goals for his team, tallying the Devils' last two goals in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers on October 17, 2001.
But four straight goals for one team by a defenseman? That is virtually unheard of. It has happened only four times in NHL history-twice by Harry Cameron of Toronto in the league's early years (Dec. 1917 and March 1923), and once each by Al Sims of the Hartford Whalers and Reed Larson of the Red Wings less than three months apart during the 1980-1981 season.
MILLER MAGNIFICENT UNDER PRESSURE
Ryan Miller made 42 saves in the USA's victory over host Canada. Miller has faced at least 40 shots five times during the current NHL season, and he has posted a 4-0-1 record in those games, holding his opponent to either one or two goals in each.