Date: April 18, 2011

Elias Says...

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

NBA

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Paul

PAUL LEADS HORNETS TO GAME 1 WIN IN L.A.

From Elias: Chris Paul put on a show on Sunday afternoon as his Hornets beat the Lakers, 109-100, in the opening game of their playoff series. Paul attained levels of points (33), assists (14) and rebounds (seven) that had been reached only four times in 3,272 previous NBA playoff games - and then only by NBA royalty (Oscar Robertson twice, Walt Frazier and Magic Johnson). And Paul was the first player ever to reach those levels in a game played on the enemy's court.

And if you believe in past history, you can argue that never has winning Game One of a series loomed more important. For one thing, Phil Jackson, as a head coach, has never lost an NBA playoff series, of any length, in which his team won the first game; his teams are 48-0 in a series after winning Game One. And as if that wasn't enough to put New Orleans on notice, the Hornets have lost all seven best-of-seven series in which they lost the first game.

Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets

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Paul

BENCH CONTRIBUTES TO HORNETS' WIN

From Elias: As brilliant as Paul was, the Hornets may not have won Game One without the off-the-bench contributions of Aaron Gray (5-for-5) and Jarrett Jack (5-for-6). In all, the Hornets substitutes made 16 of 22 field-goal attempts, a rate of 72.7 percent. In the last 20 years of NBA playoffs, there have been only two other games in which a team's substitutes shot for such a high percentage while making at least 15 field goals. The Bucks got a 75-percent shooting performance by their subs in a win over Detroit on April 29, 2006, and the Suns' subs hit 74 percent in a win over the Lakers seven days later.

New Orleans Hornets

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Durant

TWO-MAN SHOW

From Elias: Kevin Durant scored 41 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 in the Thunder's four-point win over the Nuggets. Oklahoma City became the third team in NBA history to have one player score more than 40 points and another player chip in more than 30 in its playoff opener. The others teams to begin the playoffs in that fashion were the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962 (43 points for Paul Arizin and 32 for Wilt Chamberlain vs. Syracuse) and the Celtics in 1973 (54 points for John Havlicek and 34 for Jo Jo White vs. Atlanta).

Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets

COMEBACK WEEKEND IN NBA

From Elias: The Thunder defeated the Nuggets in Game One of their playoff series despite trailing by as many as 13 points. Oklahoma City was the fifth NBA team during the opening weekend of this year's postseason to win a game after overcoming a double-digit deficit (joining Chicago, Miami, Memphis and Boston). In 82 games played in last year's NBA playoffs, there were only 11 games in which the winning team overcame a deficit of 10-or-more points.

Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets

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Allen

ALLEN'S LATE GAME-WINNER

From Elias: Ray Allen's three-point field goal with 11.6 seconds remaining provided the final points in the Celtics' 87-85 win over the Knicks. Allen is renowned as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history - both for accuracy and clutch ability - but Sunday's shot marked only the second time in his pro career that he has made a field goal to put his team ahead in the last 24 seconds of a playoff game. The other occasion came two years ago, when his three-pointer with two seconds remaining lifted the Celtics to a 118-115 win over the Bulls in Game Two of a first-round series.

Boston Celtics, New York Knicks

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Randolph

FIRST PLAYOFF WIN FOR THE GRIZZLIES

From Elias: Zach Randolph scored 25 points and Marc Gasol added 24 to lead the Grizzlies to a win in their series opener at San Antonio, the first playoff win in franchise history. The Grizzlies had lost their 12 previous playoff games, the longest losing streak in the history of the NBA playoffs. Randolph and Gasol each scored 20 or more points in the same game only once during the past regular season; that was in a 120-92 romp over the Kings on February 26, the second-largest margin of victory for Memphis all season.

Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs

HOT FROM THE FLOOR

From Elias: The Grizzlies made 55.2 percent of their field-goal attempts in winning Game One in San Antonio. This was the 90th home playoff game for the Spurs since 1998 (the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan era) and only the second of those games in which the Spurs permitted a team to shoot 55 percent or higher from the floor. On May 30, 2005, the Suns made 57.1 percent of their field-goal attempts in taking a 111-106 decision at San Antonio in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals, but the Spurs wrapped up the series in the next game and went on to defeat the Pistons for the NBA title.

San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies

MLB

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Cano

HIGH, FAR AND GONE

From Elias: Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson each hit their fourth home run of the season in the Yankees' 6-5 win over the Rangers. Six different players have hit at least four home runs for the Yankees this season through the team's first 14 games (Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are the others). No other team in major-league history has ever had that many players each hit four or more homers fewer than 17 games into a season.

New York Yankees, Texas Rangers

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Volquez

BACK-TO-BACK HOMERS OFF VOLQUEZ TO START THE GAME

From Elias: Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata began the first inning with back-to-back homers off Edinson Volquez in the Pirates' seesaw win at Cincinnati. Volquez has allowed back-to-back homers to a team's first two batters of a game twice this year. (Flash back to March 31, when Volquez surrendered consecutive homers to Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez, the first two batters he faced in his opening-day start.) Only two other active pitchers have had two such games in their careers: Chad Durbin (both in 2000) and Ted Lilly (2001 and 2005).

Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates

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Ellsbury

BOTTOM OF THE ORDER SPARKS RED SOX

From Elias: Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run homer from the bottom of the batting order and Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in three runs with a pair of singles from the eight hole to lead the Red Sox to their second straight victory. It was the first time that the Red Sox had three or more RBIs from both the eighth and ninth spots in their batting order in one game since June 27, 2003, when Bill Mueller (six RBIs) and Jason Varitek (four) did it in a 25-8 thrashing of the Marlins at Fenway Park, highlighted by a 14-run first inning for Boston.

Boston Red Sox

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Ruiz

RUIZ DELIVERS LATE GAME-WINNER

From Elias: Carlos Ruiz snapped a 2-2 tie with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that proved to be the game-winner in the Phillies 3-2 triumph over the Marlins. It was Ruiz's 12th career game-winning RBI in the seventh inning or later, all since 2007. Over the last five seasons (2007-2011), only Ryan Howard (14) has had more game-winning RBIs in the seventh inning or later for the Phillies than Ruiz.

Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins

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Drew

COLLMENTER BEATS DEFENDING CHAMPS IN DEBUT

From Elias: Stephen Drew beat the Giants with an RBI single in the bottom of the 12th inning to make a winner out of Arizona's Josh Collmenter in his first game in the majors. Collmenter is one of four active pitchers to win his big-league debut and do it against a defending World Series champion. The others were Kyle Davies (2005 vs. Boston), Jake Arrieta and Josh Tomlin (both vs. the Yankees in 2010), each as a starting pitcher, unlike Collmenter.

Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants

HAREN IMPROVES TO 4-0

From Elias: The Angels completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox behind Dan Haren, who improved his mark to 4-0 in five games this season (including a victory in relief), but saw his ERA increase to a still-stingy 1.16. The only other Angels pitcher to go 4-0 or better with an ERA as low as Haren's over his first five games of a season was Geoff Zahn in 1982 (4-0 with a 1.05 ERA).

Chicago White Sox, Anaheim Angels

THREE-RUN HOMER FROM THE LEADOFF SPOT

From Elias: Danny Espinosa's three-run homer in the fifth inning gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead and they held on to defeat the Brewers, 8-4, in the first game of a doubleheader in the nation's capital. Espinosa was only the second Washington player to homer with at least two men on base from the top spot in the batting order at Nationals Park since the ballpark opened in 2008. The first was Felipe Lopez, who hit a grand slam there against the Mets on April 24, 2008, in the ninth game played in the ballpark's history.

Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers

ESPINOSA KEY AS NATIONALS WIN TWO

From Elias: Espinosa followed his first-game heroics with a bases-loaded triple in the nightcap, contributing to Washington's doubleheader sweep. Espinosa became the second player in Expos/Nationals history to register three or more RBIs in each game of a doubleheader (traditional or split admission). The other was Montreal's Larry Parrish, at Philadelphia on September 22, 1979.

Washington Nationals

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Cahill

CAHILL TAKES CONTROL

From Elias: Trevor Cahill recorded nine strikeouts without issuing a base on balls to the Tigers on Sunday to register his second victory of the season. There have been seven major-league games this season in which a pitcher allowed no walks while striking out at least seven batters and Cahill is the only pitcher with more than one such game (no walks and seven Ks at Toronto on April 7).

Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers

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Gonzalez

FOUR-HIT GAME FOR GONZALEZ

From Elias: Carlos Gonzalez went 4-for-5 for the Rockies as they defeated the Cubs on Sunday. It was the first four-hit game of the season for Gonzalez, who had six such games last season. The only other major-leaguer with as many four-hit games over the last two seasons (2010-2011) as Gonzalez is Carl Crawford, who's had eight such games over that span, all last season for the Rays.

Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs

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Sizemore

SIZEMORE RETURNS WITH A BLAST

From Elias: Grady Sizemore went 2-for-4 with a home run in his return from the disabled list on Sunday as the streaking Indians completed a series sweep of the Orioles. Sizemore, who returned to his customary position at the top of Cleveland's batting order, has started 674 games from that spot, the most for an Indians player since Kenny Lofton led off 1175 games for them.

Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles

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Kemp

FRANKLIN WALKS OFF A LOSER IN LOS ANGELES

From Elias: Matt Kemp greeted Ryan Franklin with a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals. It was the fourth walk-off homer that Franklin has surrendered in his career, and the second that he allowed to the only batter he faced in a game. The other first-batter game-ending homer he allowed was also at Dodger Stadium, when Ramon Martinez snapped a 5-5 tie with a homer off Franklin, then with the Reds, to lead off the 16th inning on August 29, 2006.

Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals

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Thole

TWO FOR THOLE

From Elias: Josh Thole (2-for-4, 2 RBI) was lifted to the second spot in the Mets' batting order and he responded with a pair of RBI hits as New York snapped its seven-game slide with a 3-2 win in Atlanta. The Mets entered Sunday's game with a .175 batting average from the second slot in the order, which was tied for the second-lowest in the majors from that spot. It was Thole's third career start in the two-hole, and all three were at Turner Field (2-for-4, 2 RBI on Sept. 16, 2009; 0-for-4 on Sept. 1, 2010).

New York Mets, Atlanta Braves

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Venable

PADRES TOP ASTROS WITH EIGHTH-INNING RALLY

From Elias: Will Venable's two-RBI, go-ahead single off Mark Melancon in the eighth inning was the pivotal play in the Padres' win at Houston. It was the Astros' third loss this season in a game in which they led in the eighth inning or later, the most such April losses for Houston in any year since 1994, when they lost three games in that manner during the season's opening month.

San Diego Padres, Houston Astros

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Duensing

TWINS WIN AGAINST A RIGHT-HANDED STARTER

From Elias: Brian Duensing defeated Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson on Sunday to snap Minnesota's four-game losing streak. The Twins entered the game winless in eight games this season in which they had faced a right-handed starting pitcher. That was the longest such losing streak to begin a season for the franchise since the Washington Senators began the 1904 season by losing their first 10 decisions in games against right-handed starters.

Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays

NHL

THE CHAMP IS ON THE ROPES

From Elias: The 2010 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are down three-games-to none in their first-round series against the Canucks after a 3-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday night. Only three other teams in NHL history lost their first three playoff games the year after they won the Stanley Cup: the Montreal Maroons in 1936 (swept by Detroit in three games), the Maple Leafs in 1952 (swept in four games by Detroit), and the Red Wings in 2003 (swept in four games by the Mighty Ducks).

This is only the third time that the Canucks have won the first three games of a playoff series. Vancouver swept a best-of-five first-round series against Calgary in 1982 and a best-of-seven first-round matchup versus St. Louis in 2009.

Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks

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Selanne

CAN'T STOP SELANNE

From Elias: Teemu Selanne has scored goals in each of the first three games of the Ducks' series against the Predators: one in Game 1, one in Game 2, and two in the Ducks' 4-3 loss in Game 3 on Sunday. Selanne's four goals are more than he scored in any of the 12 other postseason series he's played in since 2004 and just one shy of his career high for one series. Selanne scored five goals in seven games for the Ducks in a first-round series against Phoenix in 1997, and five goals in seven games for the Sharks in a second-round series versus Colorado in 2002.

Selanne's two goals in Sunday's game came 30 seconds apart in the second period. They were the fastest two goals by one player in an NHL playoff game since Petr Nedved scored twice within 11 seconds for the Penguins against the Capitals exactly 15 years earlier (April 17, 1996).

Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators

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Dubinsky

LATE GAME-WINNER FOR DUBINSKY

From Elias: The Rangers beat the Capitals, 3-2, in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Capitals on Brandon Dubinsky's goal that snapped a 2-2 tie with 1:39 remaining in the third period. It was only the third time in team history that a Rangers player scored a tiebreaking goal in the final two minutes of the third period in a playoff game, with the previous two instances coming five days apart! In 1982, Cam Connor's goal with 1:09 left was the decider in Game 3 of the Rangers' first-round series against the Flyers, and then Reijo Ruotsalainen scored a tiebreaker with 1:58 remaining to give coach Herb Brooks' "Smurfs" a Game 1 win in the second round against the Islanders.

New York Rangers, Washington Capitals


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