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BARGNANI & DeROZAN STAR IN RAPTORS' WIN
From Elias: The Raptors found what's been missing, especially since the departure of Chris Bosh, in Sunday's 118-112 win over the Kings. Andrea Bargnani shot 12-for-19 from the floor (30 points) and DeMar DeRozan made 13 of 20 field-goal attempts (28 points) in Toronto's win. It was the first time in nearly 15 years that two players other than Bosh made at least 12 field goals each in a regulation game (that is, no overtime). The last time that happened was the final day of March 1996; the players were Tracy Murray and Carlos Rogers.
NASH RECORDS ANOTHER SIGNATURE GAME
From Elias: Steve Nash scored 20 points and was credited 17 assists in the Suns' 108-100 win over the Cavaliers. That was the 25th 20/15 game of Nash's career. Nash, who will turn 37 years old next month, has recorded nearly half of his 20/15 games-12 to be exact-over the last four seasons. But most impressive of all, Nash has five such games this season, which is three more than all other NBA players combined. (Jose Calderon and Deron Williams have the other two.)
JAMES & WADE DOMINATE BLAZERS
From Elias: LeBron James (17-for-26 from the field, 44 points) and Dwyane Wade (15-for-22, 34 points) took charge in the Heat's 107-100 overtime win at Portland on Sunday night. It was the first NBA game in more than 10 years in which teammates made at least 15 field goals each. The last players to do so were Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant for the Lakers in a win over the Spurs in December 2000.
'MELO MELTS AS TRADE BUZZ INCREASES
From Elias: With rumors about his possible trade to the Nets growing, Carmelo Anthony fizzled on Sunday night, scoring only eight points in the Nuggets' 96-87 loss to the Hornets. It was the fifth time in Anthony's NBA career, but the first in nearly six years, that he played at least 30 minutes in a game and failed to score in double-figures. Anthony's last such game was against the Trail Blazers in February 2005.
MANU SAVES THE DAY
From Elias: It wasn't a stellar night for Tim Duncan (8 points, 8 rebounds) or Tony Parker (11 points, 4 assists), but that's what friends are for. Manu Ginobili delivered the goods, scoring 21 points with seven rebounds and four steals in the Spurs' 94-91 victory over the visiting Timberwolves. And that's how it's been for some time now; San Antonio has won 28 of the last 32 home games in which Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili all started, and Manu has been the team's high scorer in those games (18.2 PPG).
COLE'S WINNING WEEKEND
From Elias: Erik Cole scored 2:09 into overtime to earn the Hurricanes a 4-3 win over the Thrashers on Sunday, after he scored two goals, including the game-winner, in Carolina'a victory at Florida on Friday. Cole has scored game-winning goals in consecutive games four times in his NHL career and in each of the last three instances one of the two games was against the Thrashers.
CLARKSON NETS A RARE PAIR
From Elias: David Clarkson scored two goals for the Devils in their 6-3 win over the Lightning. It was only the fourth multiple-goal game by a New Jersey player this season. (Jason Arnott has a pair of two-goal games and Ilya Kovalchuk has one.) That's only half as many multiple-goal games as Sidney Crosby, the individual league leader in that category, has recorded this season (8).
New Jersey scored five goals in the third period of Sunday's win, as many as they scored in their previous 12 games combined.
STARS CONTINUE TO EXCEL ON THE ROAD
From Elias: The Stars extended their road winning streak to seven games with a 4-0 victory at Minnesota on Sunday. The seven straight road wins tie a Minnesota/Dallas franchise record, done four previous times (most recently in 2001), and they match the longest road winning streak in the NHL this season. The Penguins won seven consecutive road games from November 6 through December 11.
CRAWFORD STAYS IN FORM, BLANKS ISLES
From Elias: Corey Crawford's 5-0 win over the Islanders on Sunday was his first shutout of the season and the second of his NHL career. Crawford has won 14 games this season with 13 of those 14 victories recorded since November 14. The only goaltenders with more wins than Crawford since that date are Marc-Andre Fleury (15) and Ondrej Pavelec (14).14
FLACCO GOES 3-FOR-3 TO MAKE NFL HISTORY
From Elias: Joe Flacco passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens' 30-7 victory at Kansas City to become the first quarterback in NFL history to start and win a postseason game in each of his first three seasons in the league. Only four other QBs even started a playoff game in each of their first three NFL seasons, regardless of the results: Otto Graham, Pat Haden, Dan Marino, and Bernie Kosar.
FLACCO-TO-HEAP KEEPS DRIVES ALIVE
From Elias: Joe Flacco converted eight third downs into first downs via passes in Baltimore's win, the highest total by any individual player in an NFL playoff game since Ben Roethlisberger passed for nine first downs on third-down plays in the Steelers' win over the Broncos in the AFC title game five years ago.
Todd Heap caught four of Flacco's third-down conversions, the highest such total by a tight end in an NFL postseason game since Mike Barber of the Houston Oilers caught four third-down passes for first downs in a win over the Patriots on New Year's Eve 1978.
RAVENS ARE THE NFL'S BEST IN POSTSEASON PLAY
From Elias: With Sunday's victory, the Ravens improved their all-time record in postseason games to 9-5 (.643) and passed the Steelers (31-19, .620) for the highest postseason winning percentage in NFL history. Pittsburgh can reclaim the record with a victory over Baltimore next Saturday.
CHIEFS SUFFER SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF LOSS
From Elias: Sunday's loss was the Chiefs' seventh straight in postseason play, setting a new NFL record that they previously shared with six other teams. That streak has spanned 17 years, and the first two of those losses were recorded with Joe Montana as Kansas City's starting QB.
CHARLES STARTS FAST IN PLAYOFF DEBUT
From Elias: The Chiefs' highlight in Sunday's loss was Jamaal Charles's 41-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, giving the Chiefs a lead that stood nearly until halftime. It was the longest rushing TD in the first quarter of a player's postseason debut since 1947, when Charlie Trippi of the Chicago Cardinals opened the scoring in the NFL title game with a 44-yard run. Trippi also scored on a 75-yard punt return in the Cardinals' 28-21 win over the Eagles.
LYNCH & McGAHEE REPRESENT FOR BUFFALO
From Elias: Be proud, Bills fans. It's been 11 years since your team reached the playoffs, but this weekend two of alumni reached the end zone on long runs: Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks (67 yards) and Willis McGahee of the Ravens (25 yards). Only three Bills players ever scored a postseason TD on a run as long as McGahee's: Joe Cribbs (twice), Thurman Thomas (Super Bowl XXV), and Tim Tindale (1995).1995
RODGERS'S POSTSEASON PERFORMANCE IS UNPRECEDENTED
From Elias: Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes, all from the red zone, in the Packers' 21-16 win at Philadelphia. In his only previous playoff game, a Wild Card loss to the Cardinals last year, Rodgers threw four TD passes including three from the red zone.
Rodgers's established a new record for TD passes in a player's first two postseason games (7). The previous mark of six had been shared by an unlikely trio of Aaron Brooks, Scott Brunner, and Kurt Warner. Rodgers became the first player ever to throw three TD passes from the red zone in each of two consecutive playoff games. He has completed eight consecutive red-zone passes in postseason games, including all six TDs.
ROOKIE STARKS, A LATE-ROUND PICK, RUNS OVER EAGLES
From Elias: James Starks, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, gained 123 rushing yards in the Packers' victory. That was the first 100-yard rushing game in NFL postseason history by a rookie who was drafted in that late a round (or who was undrafted). Among the rookies to gain at least 100 rushing yards in a postseason game, the latest draft pick prior to Starks-in terms of either round of overall draft number-was Timmy Smith, a fifth-round pick in 1987 who gained 204 yards in the Redskins' 42-10 rout of the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.
AKERS'S MISSES PROVIDE PACKERS' MARGIN OF VICTORY
From Elias: David Akers missed field-goal attempts of 41 and 34 yards in the Eagles five-point loss. Only four other kickers in NFL history missed two FGs of 41 yards or shorter in a postseason loss by a margin of six points or less: Jan Stenerud (1971 Chiefs), Bruce Gossett (1972 49ers), Lin Elliott (1995 Chiefs), and Nate Kaeding (2009 Chargers).