A rare shutout for Vikings
The Vikings notched their first shutout in 24 years on Saturday night, blanking the Packers, 16–0, at Lambeau Field. Minnesota’s last shutout came on Dec. 5, 1993, when the Vikings defeated the Lions, 13–0, at the Pontiac Silverdome. Their streak of 386 games without a shutout stands as the third-longest in NFL history. The two longer streaks are current ones, compiled by the Redskins (425 games, since 1991) and Cardinals (400 games, since 1992).
Hundley anything but chill in deep freeze of Lambeau
Brett Hundley could not produce much offense against Jack Frost and the Bears defense, gaining just 130 passing yards on 40 attempts on Saturday. Only two players in NFL history prior to Hundley totaled no more than 130 passing yards in a game with at least 40 attempts. Jesse Palmer produced 110 passing yards on 43 attempts on Dec. 28, 2003 against the Panthers, though his silver lining included a couple of TD passes for the Giants. Derek Carr was the other player with such a game, passing for 117 yards on 41 attempts for the Raiders on Dec. 8, 2016 at Kansas City.
Flacco’s efficiency is early Christmas present for Ravens
Joe Flacco completed 29 of 38 passes – good for 76 percent – to spur the Ravens to a 23–16 victory over the Colts and move Baltimore closer to a postseason berth. Saturday’s game marked the fifth time that Flacco attempted at least 30 passes in a game and completed at least 75 percent of them; he also had games of that kind in 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The only other Ravens quarterbacks with even one game of that kind were Jim Harbaugh (one such game in 1998) and Elvis Grbac (one occurrence in 2001).
Tucker like no other
Justin Tucker made all three of his field-goal attempts in the Ravens’ Saturday night victory over the Colts. The last of those kicks was Tucker’s 200th successful field goal of his career, making him the 68th player in league history to reach that milestone. Tucker reached that number in 222 attempts, giving him a conversion rate of 90.9 percent. None of the other 67 players to make at least 200 field goals had a success rate as high as 90 percent at any point after converting their 200th field goal.
DeRozan processes 76ers for second time this week
DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Raptors to their second victory over the 76ers in the last three days. DeRozan, who scored a career-high 45 points against Philadelphia on Thursday, joined Michael Jordan as the only players in the last 40 seasons to score at least 70 points against the 76ers within a three-day span in the regular season. “His Airness” followed a 33-point effort versus Philadelphia on Nov. 15, 1988 with a 52-point explosion the following day. Jordan made an incredible 24 of 29 field-goal attempts in that second game versus the 76ers, marking his highest field-goal percentage (82.8%) in a single game in his NBA career.
Westbrook handles Jazz for third time this month
The Thunder defeated the Jazz for the third time this month, with Russell Westbrook doing most of the damage. Oklahoma City’s point guard notched his 11th triple-double of the season on Saturday, leading the Thunder with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. In Oklahoma City’s three matchups versus the Jazz since the start of December, Westbrook totaled 85 points, 32 rebounds, and 31 assists. The last player before Westbrook to produce at least 80 points, 30 rebounds, and 30 assists versus a particular team in a calendar month was John Johnson, who racked up 102 points, 40 rebounds, and 39 assists for the Cavaliers in four matchups with the Buffalo Braves in December 1970.
Plenty of points to go around for Wizards
The Wizards shared the scoring in their 130–103 romp over the Magic. Twelve of Washington’s 13 players who participated on Saturday made at least one field-goal attempt, with Mike Scott’s 18 points leading the team. This was the 140th time in which the Wizards franchise scored 130 or more points in a game, and it was the first of those games in which none of the team’s players finished with 20 or more points. Only one other NBA team has had a game of that kind since the start of last season – the Nets scored 141 points in a win at Philadelphia on April 4, 2017 with Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin co-leading Brooklyn in scoring at 16 points.
Another late comeback for Blazers over Lakers
A three-point play by Maurice Harkless with 21.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Blazers the lead for good in their 95–92 victory over the Lakers. The Blazers also trailed in the final minute of their other win over the Lakers earlier this season on November 2 (Damian Lillard hit a go-ahead three in the final seconds of that contest). No other team has erased a deficit in the final minute of the fourth quarter in multiple wins versus a particular opponent this season. The last time Portland achieved that feat in a season came against the Rockets in 2012–13; the Blazers had two overtime wins over Houston that season, and in both victories Portland trailed at some point in the final minute of regulation.
Still plenty of gas left in Gasol’s tank
Pau Gasol totaled 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on Saturday – the 10th triple-double of his NBA career – in the Spurs’ 108–99 victory over the Kings. The 37-year-old Gasol became the oldest NBA player to produce a triple-double since Tim Duncan did so on Dec. 5, 2014 at Memphis. Duncan was 38 years old when he had 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists for the last of his four triple-doubles for San Antonio. Duncan and Gasol are the oldest two players to notch a triple-double for the Spurs since the franchise joined the NBA in 1976–77.
Besides Duncan and Gasol, the only other NBA players to record a triple-double after their 37th birthdays were Elvin Hayes (one in 1984 at age 38), Karl Malone (one in 2003 at age 40), and Jason Kidd (three spanning 2010 and 2011 at age 37).
Rough night from long range for Warriors
The sharpshooting Warriors were anything but on Saturday, finishing with a season-low 81 points in their loss to the Nuggets at Oracle Arena. Golden State shot just 11 percent from behind the arc on Saturday (3-of-27 from downtown), marking the team’s lowest three-point percentage in a game over the last six seasons. Klay Thompson barely missed an 0-fer from three, missing his first nine three-point attempts before connecting on his final shot from downtown in the fourth quarter. Thompson had never missed as many as nine consecutive three-point attempts at any point of a game, regular season or playoffs, prior to Saturday’s contest.
Oladipo has been a gift for Pacers fans this season
Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 38 points to help Indiana prevail over the Nets in overtime. Oladipo’s point total for the season stands at 808 after Saturday’s win, making him the first player since the Pacers joined the NBA in 1976–77 to score at least 800 points for Indiana in a season before Christmas. The franchise’s former pre-Christmas scoring leader was not Reggie Miller, not Paul George, but Mickey Johnson, who produced 742 points for Indiana before December 25 in the 1979–80 campaign, his only season with the club.
Big numbers don’t add up to win for Clippers
Despite Herculean efforts by Austin Rivers (career-high 38 points) and Lou Williams (36 points), the Clippers came up short in Memphis on Saturday. Rivers and Williams are the fourth pair of teammates this season to score 35 points in the same game, joining Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins (Oct. 20 versus Warriors), Devin Booker and T.J. Warren (Nov. 11 versus Timberwolves), and Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore (Dec. 11 at Houston). Rivers and Williams became the first duo to achieve that feat for the Clippers since the team relocated to Los Angeles for the 1984–85 season. Two duos produced at least 35 points apiece for the team in a game during its six seasons in San Diego – World B. Free and Swen Nater did that in December 1979 versus the Jazz, and Tom Chambers and Michael Brooks did so in April 1982 against the Blazers.
Quick work on the boards for Celtics rookie
Celtics rookie Daniel Theis secured a game-high 15 rebounds on Saturday with just 24:21 of time on the court. Theis became the first NBA player this season to finish a game with 15 or more rebounds in 25 minutes or less. Jared Sullinger is the only other Celtics player to achieve that feat in a game over the last 15 seasons; Sullinger needed just under 24 minutes to rack up 15 rebounds on Nov. 27, 2015 versus the Wizards.
Slow starts, big finishes for Schroder and Middleton
Dennis Schroder and Khris Middleton both ended up scoring more than 30 points on Saturday night despite each player producing just six points before halftime. Schroder finished with 33 points in the Hawks’ win over the Mavericks, while Middleton totaled 31 points in the Bucks’ loss at Charlotte. Only three other players this season scored more than 30 points in a game despite mustering six or fewer points in the first two quarters. Jimmy Butler did that against the Clippers on December 3 (six in first half, 33 in game), as did Michael Beasley on December 21 versus the Celtics (four in first half, 32 in game) and Austin Rivers on December 22 at Houston (six in first half, 36 in game).
Unexpected player leads Pelicans in points
Ian Clark scored 19 points off the bench to lead the Pelicans in scoring in their 109–94 victory over the Heat. Clark is the first player this season to come off the bench and lead New Orleans (or tie for the team-lead) in scoring. That leaves three teams – the 76ers, Bucks, and Thunder – as the only ones that have not been led in points by a substitute in any game this season.
Islanders rookie nets hat trick
Mathew Barzal notched his first NHL hat trick by scoring three goals in the Islanders’ 5–2 win against the Jets in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. Barzal is only the third rookie to register a hat trick for the Islanders over the last 33 seasons. The other Islanders rookie with hat tricks since 1984–85 were Niklas Andersson (Feb. 4, 1996 vs. Dallas) and Michael Grabner (Feb. 13, 2011 at Buffalo). The 20-year-old Barzal is only the fifth player to record a hat trick for the Islanders before his 21st birthday. The others are Bryan Trottier (two: one at age 19, one at 20), Brent Sutter (age 19), Pat LaFontaine (age 19) and John Tavares (two at age 20).
Seguin shining brightly for Stars
Tyler Seguin scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season for the Stars in their shootout win against the Predators. Seguin’s goal on Saturday was his 150th in the 342 games he’s played for the Stars since they acquired him in a trade with the Bruins in July 2013. The only players to reach the 150-goal mark for the Stars franchise (including the team’s years in Minnesota) in as few games as Seguin are Dino Ciccarelli (271), Dave Gagner (340) and Steve Payne (342).
Bergeron packs late 1-2 punch for Bruins
Patrice Bergeron scored a pair of goals in the Bruins’ 3–1 win over the Red Wings. Bergeron’s first goal snapped a 1–1 tie with just over six minutes gone in the third period and his second goal was an empty-netter in the final minute of play which wrapped up the victory for Boston. It was the second multiple-goal game this season for Bergeron and his 30th career multi-goal game for the Bruins, which ranks him second among current Boston players, behind Brad Marchand with 31. Only two NHL teams besides the Bruins have more than one player on their current roster who’ve recorded at least 30 multiple-goal games for that club: the Blackhawks with three (Jonathan Toews 36, Patrick Kane 35, Patrick Sharp 30) and the Penguins with two (Sidney Crosby 79, Evgeni Malkin 47).
A great welcoming present for Gibson
Ducks goaltender John Gibson, who was born in Pittsburgh, recorded his first shutout of the season with a 4–0 win against the Penguins in his hometown. This is only the second time in the Ducks’ 24 seasons in the NHL that they posted a shutout in a game against the defending Stanley Cup champion. Their other shutout against a Cup-holding team was a 3–0 win by Guy Hebert versus the Dallas Stars in Anaheim on Oct. 8, 1999.
Butcher helping Devils out in big way
Will Butcher notched his 20th and 21st assists of the season in the Devils’ 4–1 win over the Blackhawks. Butcher is the first NHL rookie defenseman to reach the 20-assist mark in one season before Christmas since 1991–92, when the Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom had 26 assists by the holiday break. Butcher is the second rookie in Devils franchise history (regardless of position) to have 20 or more assists in one season by Christmas, joining Scott Gomez who had 26 assists before Xmas in 1999–2000.
Another notch on Matthews’ belt
Auston Matthews, playing for the first time in two weeks, tallied a goal and an assist to help lead the Maple Leafs to a 3–2 win over the Rangers in New York. Matthews’ goal was his first in five career games versus the Rangers. There are now only four Leafs opponents that Matthews has not scored a goal against in his two seasons in the NHL: the Flames (four games), Flyers (four games), Blues (three games) and Golden Knights (one game).
Bobrovsky rocks versus former club
Sergei Bobrovsky ended his three-game winless streak with a 2–1 shootout victory against the Flyers, his former team, in Columbus. Bobrovsky is 9–2–0 with a 1.79 GAA in the 11 games he’s played versus the Flyers since they traded him to the Blue Jackets in June 2012. The only goaltenders with at least as many wins against Philadelphia over the last six seasons as Bobrovsky are Henrik Lundqvist (12) and Tuukka Rask (11). Bobrovsky has won all six games he’s played against the Flyers in Columbus, allowing two or fewer goals in each game.
Girardi breaks late tie
Defenseman Dan Girardi’s goal with 2:42 remaining in the third period snapped a 0–0 tie and sent the Lightning on its way to a 3–0 win against the Wild. This was only the second time in franchise history that a Tampa Bay player scored a goal to break a 0–0 deadlock in the final three minutes of regulation time. The other such goal for the Lightning was scored by Martin St. Louis versus Carolina at 19:01 of the third period on March 8, 2001. Tampa Bay won that game, 1–0.
Reimer stifles Senators
The Panthers’ James Reimer notched his first shutout of the season with a 1–0 win versus Ottawa on Saturday in which he made 38 saves. The only other NHL goaltenders to make at least 38 saves in a 1–0 win this season both play for Reimer’s former team, the Maple Leafs: Frederik Andersen (Nov. 16 in OT vs. New Jersey, 42 saves) and Curtis McElhinney (Dec. 10 vs. Edmonton, 41 saves). Reimer’s 38 saves are the most by a Florida goaltender in a 1–0 victory since Nov. 16, 2015, when Roberto Luongo stopped 39 shots in a win against the Lightning.
Faulk lights lamp twice for Hurricanes
Defenseman Justin Faulk scored two goals for the Hurricanes in their 4–2 win against the Sabres. It was Faulk’s first two-goal game this season and the fifth multiple-goal game of his seven-year NHL career. All of Faulk’s multi-goal games have come in the last three seasons. The only other NHL defenseman with at least five multiple-goal games over the last three seasons is Brent Burns with eight.
An avalanche of blocked shots by Nemeth
Colorado defenseman Patrik Nemeth set an NHL single-game season high with 11 blocked shots in the Avs’ 6–2 win at Arizona. He’s the first NHL player to block at least 11 shots in one game since Nov. 19, 2016, when the Panthers’ Mark Pysyk blocked a dozen shots at Ottawa. Nemeth’s 11 blocks were the most in one game by an Avalanche player since Brett Clark racked up 12 blocks against Chicago on Nov. 6, 2009.
Fleury blanks Capitals once again
Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his first NHL shutout for a team other than the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 3–0 win for the Golden Knights against the Capitals in Las Vegas on Saturday. It was Fleury’s fourth career shutout versus Washington, which ties him with Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Ward for the high among active goaltenders.