Elias Says ...
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports.
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• NBA fans saw a lot Saturday -- read on for details -- but there's one thing they didn't see: a close game. There were six games played: The Spurs overwhelmed the Sonics by 31 points; the Mavericks clobbered the Nuggets by 20; the Bucks beat the 76ers by 19; the Jazz defeated the Celtics by 18; the Raptors bested the Bobcats by 17; and the Clippers topped the Warriors by 13 points.
That's a true rarity. There have been almost 3,700 game-days in NBA history on which at least six regular-season games were played, and this was just the third one of them on which every game was decided by a margin of at least 13 points. The other two instances came in the same season, just four months apart, on Nov. 26, 1971, and March 26, 1972 (six games were played each day).
• The Raptors won in Charlotte 93-76, lifting their record to 31-25 and extending their Atlantic Division lead over New Jersey to five games. It's the first time since Feb. 15, 2002, that the Raptors have stood six games above the .500 mark, and the first time in franchise history that the team has assumed a five-game division lead.
Toronto's record stood at 13-19 after losing its first game of 2007, to Phoenix on Jan. 3. Since then, though, Toronto's 18-6 mark is third best in the NBA, surpassed only by Dallas (20-2) and Phoenix (19-5).
• The Spurs smothered the Sonics 102-71, holding Ray Allen to 12 points, emphatically ending the All-Star's streak of 10 straight games scoring at least 25 points. And though it was the second game of back-to-back games for Seattle, Allen has thrived in those situations this season: He brought into the game an average of 31.2 points per game in the second of games played on consecutive days, highest in the league.
Allen missed his last 14 field-goal attempts of the night, the most consecutive field-goal attempts missed by a player in any NBA game this season.
Allen did make a pair of 3-point field goals, extending to 20 his streak of consecutive games making a three-pointer, the longest current streak of its kind for any NBA player. During his career, Allen has now had 10 separate streaks of at least 20 consecutive games with a three-pointer, the most such streaks for any player in NBA history.
• The Mavericks defeated the Nuggets 115-95, boosting their won-lost record to 46-9. Dallas became only the eighth team in NBA history to reach the 55-game mark of a season with at least 46 victories. Six of the seven previous teams that did that went on to win the NBA title that season; the only exception was last year's Pistons, who were an identical 46-9 through 55 games.
• Elton Brand's line in the Clippers' 103-90 win over the Warriors included 31 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots. Earlier this season, Yao Ming produced 35 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks in a double-overtime loss to the Lakers; but other than Yao, no NBA player had put together a game of 30 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks since O'Neal did it -- Jermaine O'Neal, that is -- against Phoenix in 2003.
Only one other Clippers player has had such a game since the team relocated from Buffalo to Southern California in 1978. That was Benoit Benjamin, of course; the big guy had 34 points, 23 rebounds and eight blocks against the Charlotte Hornets, then a first-year expansion team, in 1989.
• The Bucks overcame Philadelphia's 31-19 second-quarter lead and defeated the Sixers 109-90. That was the tenth time this season that Philadelphia has lost a game in which it had held a double-digit lead; only Denver and Seattle (11 each) have as many losses of that type.
• The Rangers lost again, but even for a team that has gone 11-17-2 over its past 30 games, this one was a whopper.
That the visiting Blue Jackets -- who came into Madison Square Garden having won only 23 of their 61 games -- came away with a 3-2 victory was one thing. But consider that Columbus scored the tying and eventual game-winning goals less than five minutes apart in the second period -- and that both goals came while playing shorthanded!
Forget that Columbus had never before scored two shorties in the same period ... it had never before scored two in the same game! And the Rangers, coming into Saturday's games, had allowed only two shorthanded goals this season (tied for the fewest in the NHL).
Oh, yes, one more thing. The Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 42-25. In that respect, the loss may not surprise discerning Rangers fans, who have now seen their team lose all six games this season in which they had 40 or more shots on goal! And yes, those were all "real" losses, in regulation time. In the NHL's expansion era (1967-68 to date), only two other teams have lost six consecutive games in which they had 40 or more shots on goal in a single season: the St. Louis Blues in 1989-90 and the Winnipeg Jets in 1993-94 (both six-game streaks).
The Blue Jackets' 33-year-old first-year goaltender Fredrik Norrena made 40 saves to get the win. He has won all three games in which he faced at least 40 shots on goal in the NHL, allowing a total of three goals in those three games.
• The Panthers had 52 shots on goal in their 7-2 rout of the Bruins, the second-highest single-game shot total by any NHL team this season. Florida also owns the top mark, with 54 shots in a 7-3 win over the Capitals on Jan. 13. The total of 52 shots on goal was the highest allowed by the Bruins in one game in nearly 36 years -- since March 27, 1971, when the Rangers peppered Eddie Johnston with 52 shots in a 6-3 win at Boston Garden.
• Tomas Holmstrom scored all three goals for the Red Wings in their overtime loss to the Predators, and each was scored on the power play. It was the second time in eight days that a Detroit player registered a power play hat trick; Henrik Zetterberg scored three PPGs at Phoenix last Saturday. Prior to that game, only one Red Wings player in the last 25 seasons had scored three power play goals in one game (Jimmy Carson, who did it at Toronto in December 1989).
• The Capitals beat Martin Brodeur and the Devils 4-2 in New Jersey. It was the first time that Washington has scored more than three goals in a game against Brodeur since Oct. 6, 2001, when the Caps knocked Brodeur out of the game by scoring five times in the first two periods of the season opener for both clubs.
Saturday's game ended Brodeur's 11-game unbeaten streak against the Capitals (10-0-1) and it was the future Hall of Famer's first loss to Washington at the Meadowlands since Dec. 9, 2000. Brodeur had won seven games in a row versus the Capitals in New Jersey since then.
• One of the Devils' goals was produced by right wing/enforcer Cam Janssen; it was the first goal of his NHL career, coming in his 82nd game. Among all forwards who entered the league over the past 25 years, only two began their NHL careers with longer goal droughts than Janssen's. And like him, they were more noted for their pugilistic skills than for their goal-scoring ability: Tony Twist (180 games) and Gordie Dwyer (108). Twist finished his career with 10 goals, while Dwyer never scored a goal in the NHL.
• Danish-born rookie Frans Nielsen's first NHL goal turned out to be the game-winning goal for the Islanders in their 3-2 victory over the Canadiens. Nielsen was the 18th player in Islanders history whose first career goal was also a game-winner. Among the others were Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and John Tonelli; the latter was the only previous Islanders player whose first NHL goal was a game-winner against hockey's most storied franchise.
• With all the focus on the end of Tiger Woods' streak of seven straight PGA Tour wins, can we get a little love for Geoff Ogilvy's streak? Ogilvy, the defending champion of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, defeated Chad Campbell in the semifinals on Saturday, his 11th consecutive match win in this event. He is the only second player to reach the finals the year after winning the tournament; Tiger won consecutive championships in 2003 and 2004.
• Henrik Stenson became the second Swedish golfer to make the final when he closed out Trevor Immelman, 3 and 2. Sweden's Pierre Fulke lost in the 2001 final to American Steve Stricker. The Stenson-Ogilvy final will be the first one without a participant from the United States. Other than Ogilvy (twice), Stenson and Fulke, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke is the only other non-American golfer to have reached the final.