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A quarter for the ages leads to a Celtics' comeback win
From Elias: The Celtics found themselves down by 19 points during the second quarter at Atlanta, and so at halftime, Doc Rivers laid out a path to victory unprecedented in NBA history. OK, maybe Rivers didn't overtly direct his team to outscore the Hawks, 33-9, in the third quarter, en route to a spectacular 89-81 comeback win; but with Doc's appreciation for NBA history, we wouldn't put it past him. Get a load of this: In the history of the NBA, no sub-.500 visiting team had ever scored more than 30 points in a quarter while holding an over-.500 opponent to fewer than 10 points in that same quarter.
In fact, the Celtics had enjoyed only one other quarter in their history in which they scored more than 30 points while allowing fewer than 10 points. Back on Nov. 6, 1996, the Celtics outscored the visiting Pacers, 38-8, in the third quarter. (What Celtics era was that? Boston's high scorers in that game were Dino Radja, with 23 points, and David Wesley, with 19.)
Hibbert's a 20-15-10-5 guy!
From Elias: There are all sorts of different designations for NBA players who fill up the columns in a boxscore - the triple-double, the double-double, a 20/10 guy, and so forth. Roy Hibbert had us scrambling Saturday night after his monster game against the Bucks, when he led the Pacers' winning effort with 20 points, 15 rebounds (including 11 off the offensive glass) and five blocks. Yes, the old 20-15-10-5 game, representing points, rebounds, offensive rebounds and blocks - something that has not been seen in the NBA since Dec. 5, 2008, when Dwight Howard produced 21 points, 23 rebounds (including 10 offensive) and six blocked shots in a win over the Thunder.
Hibbert became the first player in the Pacers' NBA history to achieve such a game; in fact, it's only the 29th such game, produced by just 16 different players, in the 40 seasons since the league began recording blocked shots and offensive rebounds in 1973.
Duncan ties Shaq by playing in 819th victory
From Elias: Tim Duncan had 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots as the Spurs took command early and lengthened their lead throughout a 109-86 victory over the visiting 76ers. It was the 819th time that Duncan has played in an NBA victory, tying Shaquille O'Neal's career total of wins played in, which is the ninth-highest in league history. But while Shaq played in 388 losses, Duncan has played in only 327 losses, giving Duncan the highest personal winning percentage (.715) among the 105 players in NBA history who have played in at least 1,000 games.
Carmelo's big fourth tips the scales toward the Knicks
From Elias: Carmelo Anthony had 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Knicks outscored the Magic, 33-17, and took a 114-106 decision in Orlando. Anthony finished the game with 40 points, marking the 24th time in his NBA career that he has reached that level; but it was just the second of those 24 games in which the final boxscore showed him with at least six rebounds and at least six assists.
Griffin's big first quarter paces Clippers' win
From Elias: Blake Griffin scored 14 points in the first quarter, sparking the Clippers to a 35-12 lead after 12 minutes, and Los Angeles went on to take an easy 115-89 decision from the Warriors. It was Griffin's highest first-quarter points total in any game this season, but it continues a trend: each of the last nine times that Griffin has scored 14-or-more points in a quarter, it has happened in the first quarter.
The Clippers' 23-point lead going into the second quarter was their largest in more than 23 years, since the Clippers built a 45-20 end-of-first-quarter lead, also over the Warriors, on Dec. 28, 1989 at the old Sports Arena.
Harden compensates for a poor-shooting night
From Elias: James Harden's shots weren't dropping on Saturday night - he hit on just six of his 17 field-goal attempts at Cleveland - so what did he do to help the team to a 112-104 victory? How about making 14 free throws and coming up with seven steals! Harden became the first NBA player since 1973 (when the league began tracking steals) to overcome such a low shooting percentage (35.3 percent) with so many free throws and steals.
Harden finished the night with 29 points, extending to 12 his streak of consecutive games scoring 25-or-more points, tying a 12-game streak by Elvin Hayes in 1968, when the Rockets still resided in San Diego, for the second-longest such streak in franchise history. The Rockets record is 13 straight games set by Moses Malone in 1982.
Blazers hit 16 threes to tie team record
From Elias: Nicolas Batum (5 of 6) and Wesley Matthews (5 of 7) were the sharpshooters from distance who helped the Trail Blazers make 16 of their 24 shots from beyond the arc and annex their 10th victory in 13 games, by a 102-97 score over the Timberwolves in Minneapolis. The 16 three-pointers matched the Portland franchise single-game record, previously done in 1997, 2005 and 2012 - each time while playing on the road. Only one other NBA team this season has had a game in which it made as many three-pointers while shooting for such a high percentage on three-point attempts; on December 23, the Spurs made 20 of 30 three-point tries in routing the Mavericks.
One bizarre streak: Mavericks tie NBA record with 10th straight overtime loss
From Elias: As streaks go, this one is pretty astounding. The Mavericks lost their 10th straight overtime game (their last three of last season and all seven this season) on Saturday night, dropping a 99-96 verdict to the Hornets, a team that came into American Airlines Center with a record of 7-25. Dallas thereby tied the longest overtime losing streak in NBA history; the Warriors (1979 to 1981), the Timberwolves (1992 to 1995) and the Hawks (over 2003 and 2004) also dropped 10 consecutive extra-period contests. Even more remarkable than the streak itself is the rapidity with which it has been achieved: Dallas has lost 10 overtime games in its last 45 games overall - the shortest span of games in which any NBA team has ever lost 10 overtime games.
Nets beat Kings in Kings
From Elias: The Kings visited Kings County on Saturday night, but the Nets connected on 15 of 21 first-quarter field-goal attempts and went on to a 113-93 victory. That 71.4-percent success rate was Brooklyn's best in the first quarter in any home game this season.
Too much Foster for the Bengals
From Elias: It was simply a tour de force for Arian Foster that gave the Texans just enough offense to bounce the Bengals from the playoffs, 19-13. Foster ran 32 times for 140 yards and had eight receptions for 34 yards. He was the first player in NFL history to have 30-or-more carries and seven-or-more receptions in a postseason game, and his total of 40 rushes-plus-receptions matched the second-highest in a regulation-length postseason game. The Jets' Curtis Martin had 36 carries and six receptions in a win over Jacksonville in the playoffs following the 1998 season, and Lawrence McCutcheon of the Los Angeles Rams had 37 carries and three catches in a win over the St. Louis Cardinals back in 1975. (Miami's Lamar Smith had 40 carries and three receptions in an overtime victory over the Colts in 2000.)
Foster became the first player in NFL history to run for 100-or-more yards in each of his first three postseason games, and his total of 425 rushing yards over those three games far exceeds the previous high of 383 rushing yards by a player in his first three postseason games, established 13 years ago by Jacksonville's Fred Taylor. In fact, Foster owns the highest total of rushing yards by an NFL player over any span of three straight postseason games - start-of-career or no - since Terrell Davis ran for 468 yards over what turned out to be his last three postseason games, culminating in the Broncos' victory over the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII in January 1999.
Texans blank Bengals on third down
From Elias: Houston's defense suffocated the Cincinnati offense throughout the day, holding the Bengals without a third-down conversion in nine attempts. It was the first time that a NFL team had been held without a third-down conversion in a postseason game since the playoffs following the 1988 season, when Sam Wyche's Bengals held Marv Levy's Bills without a first down on 10 third-down attempts.
Rodgers checks another one off his list
From Elias: Aaron Rodgers has won a Super Bowl, has been the league MVP and the Super Bowl MVP, owns the top single-season passer rating and the highest career passer rating in NFL history, and has national TV commercials. What he had never done, until Saturday night, was to win a postseason game in his own home stadium. But he crossed that item off his to-do list with a workmanlike 24-10 victory over the Vikings at Lambeau Field. The only other starting quarterbacks who had won a Super Bowl before winning a home playoff game are Len Dawson and Eli Manning. (Manning finally won a postseason home game last year, four years after winning his first Super Bowl. Dawson started only one postseason home game, and lost it, to the Dolphins on Christmas Day 1971, in the longest game in NFL history.)
Rushing and receiving scores for Kuhn
From Elias: John Kuhn scored on a nine-yard reception and on a three-yard run in the Packers' first-round win on Saturday night, which is actually the second time that he has scored rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same postseason game. He did the same thing in the Packers' 48-21 win at Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs two years ago, en route to winning the Super Bowl. Only four other players in NFL history have scored rushing and receiving touchdowns in two different postseason games: Earnest Byner, Emmitt Smith, Ricky Watters and Thurman Thomas.