Stats & Info: Philadelphia 76ers

76ers snap 17-game losing streak

December, 3, 2014
12/03/14
11:31
PM ET

Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsMichael Carter-Williams (right) scored a team-high 20 points in Philadelphia's first win this season.
For the first time this season, the Philadelphia 76ers emerged victorious, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 85-77 on the road. Entering Wednesday, the Sixers were 0-17, one loss shy of tying the worst start to a season in NBA history, held by 2009-10 New Jersey Nets. Here’s how the game unfolded for Philadelphia.

The night opened with the best opening quarter of the season for the 76ers. They allowed 13 points in the first quarter, the fewest they've allowed in any quarter this season. The 76ers held a 10-point lead after the first quarter for the first time this season.

In fact, the 10-point lead was Philadelphia’s largest lead after any quarter this season. It went 25 straight games without leading by double digits after the first quarter.

The 76ers led by double digits for more than seven minutes in the first half, after leading by double digits for only four minutes total this season entering Wednesday.

Philadelphia held a lead entering the fourth quarter for just the third time this season. In the end, the Sixers closed it out to record their fifth win in their past 54 games. The win also marked their first win in their past 24 games against Western Conference opponents.

Reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams was the shining star for Philadelphia. He scored 20 points to go along with nine rebounds and nine assists in 43 minutes of work, the team’s leader (outright or tied) in all four categories. He's averaging a triple-double over his past three games (20.7 PPG, 10.7 APG, 10.3 RPG).

Where do the 76ers go from here? They are the fourth team ever to lose at least 17 straight games to begin a season. None of the previous three teams won more than 15 games by season's end (1988-89 Heat went 15-67).

76ers threatening record for worst start

December, 3, 2014
12/03/14
1:44
PM ET
Simulations from numberFire.com project that the Philadelphia 76ers are likely to break the NBA record for start-of-season futility by losing Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Friday against the Orlando Magic. No matter what happens in those two games, the 76ers have had a memorable start to the season (just for the wrong reason).

We go inside the statistics to explain why they have struggled.

Offense
The 76ers’ league-low scoring average of 91.5 points per game doesn’t fully portray their problems on offense as points-per-game stats can be affected by the pace of games.

When adjusting for pace, the 76ers’ offense appears even worse.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (91.7 points per game) and the Detroit Pistons (92.2) aren’t that far ahead of the 76ers on a points-per-game basis. But in offensive efficiency – which measures points per 100 possessions – the 76ers average 91.4 points, five fewer points than any other team. The Thunder are next to last at 96.4 points.

The 76ers also rank last in 3-point percentage, turnover percentage and rebound percentage.

Maybe we should have seen this coming (and maybe some of you did). On the 76ers’ active roster are two first-round draft picks, Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. That’s the fewest in the NBA. (Joel Embiid, Tony Wroten and Jason Richardson were first-round picks but are inactive.) On the other side of that, the 76ers have seven undrafted players, the most in the NBA.

Historical perspective
The 76ers are 4-49 in their last 53 games, but that isn't the worst 53-game span in NBA history. A few other teams were 4-49, and the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks were 3-50 in a 53-game stretch, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The 76ers have been outscored by 245 points in their first 17 games, an average of 14.4 points per game. Four teams in NBA history have had a worse margin in their first 17 games with the 1997-98 Warriors being the most recent at -14.6 points per game.

The 2009-10 Nets hold the record for most losses at the start of a season with 18. Through 17 games, this 76ers team is very similar. Both teams were last in offensive efficiency but not so bad defensively. The Nets weren't last in 3-point percentage and turnover percentage, as the 76ers are; they were second-to-last.

Reason for hope?
The 76ers’ defense isn’t great, but it’s not league-worst bad. The 76ers rank 24th in defensive efficiency and 15th in 3-point percentage defense. Believe it or not, the 76ers are second in turnovers forced per game (18.1). Only the Mavericks are forcing more (18.2).

And even the 76ers' offense has at least one bright spot. They lead the NBA in drives per game (32.4), according to player tracking data on NBA.com.

The 76ers have improved lately. After ranking last in the NBA in scoring margin, offensive efficiency and rebound percentage in the first 12 games, they have avoided the bottom 5 in all of those categories over their last five games.

Top stats to know: NBA Draft reaction

June, 27, 2014
6/27/14
11:29
AM ET

Getty ImagesAndrew Wiggins (center), Dante Exum (left) and Julius Randle all found NBA homes Thursday night.
After Andrew Wiggins joined Anthony Bennett in Cleveland (both the only Canadian-born players to be drafted first overall), the 2014 NBA Draft was only getting started.

Here's a look at some of the top stats and storylines from one of the most anticipated NBA Drafts in league history.

Parker, Embiid fill out Top 3

With Wiggins off the board, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Jabari Parker second overall. Parker was part of an elite group of freshmen to dominate both inside and out in college during the last 15 seasons.

The Philadelphia 76ers chose Joel Embiid with the third pick, giving Kansas as many top-three picks in this draft as it had in the rest of the common draft era combined (Danny Manning and Raef LaFrentz).

When healthy, Embiid, along with last year's lottery pick Nerlens Noel, should help a Sixers team that ranked 28th in the NBA in rebounding percentage last season. In his freshman season, Embiid led all Big-7 players with a 20.5 rebounding percentage.

Randle continues Kentucky tradition

From one storied program to another, former Kentucky standout Julius Randle was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the seventh pick in the first round.

After the Lakers finished last in the NBA in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, Randle will be expected to duplicate his double-double dominance from Day One.

Only Michael Beasley recorded more double-doubles in a freshman season than Julius Randle did last year.

Vonleh, McDermott stand out for Midwest

Noah Vonleh went to the Charlotte Hornets with the ninth selection. Vonleh led the Big Ten in field goal percentage (50 percent) on catch-and-shoot plays, ahead of Michigan's Nik Stauskas (minimum 25 plays).

This was the first time Indiana had top-10 picks in consecutive drafts since 1976-77.

Doug McDermott, who became the first Creighton player selected in the first round since Benoit Benjamin in 1985, continued the lottery legacy of Wooden Award winners.

Since 2005, every Wooden Award winner has been a lottery pick. The last winner to not go in the lottery was Jameer Nelson, who was drafted 20th overall in 2004.

UCLA trio pulls a first since 1979

The UCLA Bruins had three players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft for the first time since 1979.

Freshman point guard Zach LaVine was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th pick. The Memphis Grizzlies turned some eyes by selecting Bruins shooting guard Jordan Adams with the 22nd selection. And sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson sealed the deal when he went to the San Antonio Spurs with the final pick of the first round.

Anderson is one of three players in the last 30 seasons to average at least 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a season , joining Memphis State's Anfernee Hardaway (1992-93) and Ohio State's Evan Turner (2009-10).

Fixing weaknesses for 7 teams in draft

June, 23, 2014
6/23/14
1:01
PM ET
Cleveland Cavaliers – Post presence
According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Cavaliers averaged 6.0 post-up points per game last season, 26th in the league. On the defensive end, they ranked second-to-last in blocks per game.

Best fit – Jabari Parker
In his only season at Duke, Parker averaged 3.6 post-up points per game, shooting 55.4 percent on such shots.

Milwaukee Bucks – Inside presence
The Bucks grabbed just 71.4 percent of available defensive rebounds in the regular season, ranking 29th in the league. The team also allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, which trailed only the Jazz for the worst defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Joel Embiid
By himself, Embiid rebounded 27 percent of opponent's missed shots when on the court, the highest rebound percentage in the Big 12.

Philadelphia 76ers – Overall efficiency
Philadelphia was outscored by 10.7 points per 100 possessions last season, the worst rate by any team since the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats.

Best fit – Andrew Wiggins
The 76ers ran 151 more plays in transition than any other team last season, but scored only 49 percent of the time (worst in NBA). Wiggins could thrive in this run-and-gun system and would raise the team's efficiency, as he scored on 69 percent of his transition plays in his only season at Kansas, the best individual rate in the Big 12.

Orlando Magic – Playmaking in transition
The Magic struggled on both ends in transition, ranking 29th in transition offensive efficiency and 27th in transition defensive efficiency.

Best fit – Dante Exum
Although Exum has not played in the United States, he showed off amazing speed and quickness at the NBA draft combine in May. His 10.75 seconds in lane agility and 3.19 seconds in the three-quarter court sprint ranked second and eighth (tie), respectively. The combined rank of his times was the second-fastest, trailing just Zach LaVine among 51 players who participated in both events.

Utah Jazz – Defensive presence
The Jazz ranked last in defensive efficiency and struggled to pressure the ball, ranking second-to-last in opponent turnover percentage.

Best fit – Marcus Smart
Smart was one of the best defenders in the college ranks last season, ranking top-10 nationally in opponent points per game (5.3) and opponent field goal percentage (27.6 percent). Smart also ranked third in the nation with 2.9 steals per game and had a 5 percent steal rate, seventh in the nation.

Boston Celtics – Inside offensive presence
The Celtics struggled with offensive efficiency and were especially poor in the paint, ranking 27th in paint points per game last season.

Best fit – Aaron Gordon
Although Gordon was a poor jump shooter, he did a lot of damage inside the paint when it mattered the most: the NCAA tournament. Of his 57 points during Arizona’s tournament run, he scored 42 points in the paint on 61.8 percent shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers – Rebounding
The Lakers were abysmal on the glass during the regular season, ranking last in offensive, defensive and total rebounding rate.

Best fit – Noah Vonleh
Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounds per game last season and in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 27 percent of opponent's missed shots in his only season at Indiana.

Vonleh also has an added dimension as a smooth jump shooter. He shot 16-of-33 on 3-point attempts, which would have ranked eighth in the nation percentage-wise if he had qualified with enough attempts. He also led the Big Ten with a 50 percent catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (minimum 25 attempts), ahead of sharpshooters such as Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris.

A night for matching up with the greats

February, 22, 2014
2/22/14
12:31
AM ET
This was an odd NBA night in that some decent players (though not megastars) put up statistical combinations that could be paired with some of the game’s all-time greats.

Here's three examples of what we’re talking about.

Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo
Oladipo
Oladipo had 30 points, a career-high 14 assists and nine rebounds in the Orlando Magic’s double-overtime win over the New York Knicks.

He’s only the second player ever to have that combo against them.

The other, via the Elias Sports Bureau, is the legendary Oscar Robertson, who did so five times.

Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond
Drummond
The Detroit Pistons center had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Drummond did so despite going 0-for-8 from the free throw line. He’s one of four players in the past 50 seasons to score 20 points and go 0-for-8 or worse from the line.

The other three are Wilt Chamberlain, Elvin Hayes and Shaquille O’Neal.

Thaddeus Young
Thaddeus Young
Young
The Philadelphia 76ers got routed by the Dallas Mavericks, but Young posted 30 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 steals in defeat.

The last player with a 30-13-6-7 game? Hakeem Olajuwon for the Houston Rockets against the Seattle SuperSonics, March 10, 1987.

Olajuwon did go one step better than Young that day: He blocked 12 SuperSonics shots in the game.

Historic night for Carter-Williams, Oladipo

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
1:03
AM ET
What’s to know about the kooky and amazing game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic on Tuesday night?

Plenty.

The triple-doubles
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo are the first pair of rookies to each record a triple-double in the same game in NBA history.

It also marked the first time opposing players had a triple-double in the same game since Nov. 23, 2007, when Baron Davis of the Golden State Warriors and Caron Butler of the Washington Wizards each recorded one.

The 21-year-old Oladipo became the youngest Magic player to record a triple-double, edging out Shaquille O’Neal (who got his first at age 21 in 1993) by 46 days and Anfernee Hardaway (1994) by 58 days.

Oladipo finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. He’s the only Magic player in team history to hit all of those benchmarks in a game.

Carter-Williams’ box score combo was 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. The last 76ers player to reach all of those numbers in one game was Charles Barkley against the Nets on March 19, 1990.

The 76ers have now gotten triple-doubles from a pair of players age 22 or younger (Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten) within the last month.

Afflalo scoring in large doses
Arron Afflalo scored a career-best 43 points in defeat for the Magic.

Afflalo is averaging 25 points per game over his last 10 games, and as the shot chart below shows, he’s found a nice comfort zone from the left side of the floor.


Afflalo was 5 for 8 from those two left-side hot spots from inside the arc on Tuesday, 2 for 6 in the one behind the 3-point line.

Key for 76ers: Rebounding Margin
The 76ers outrebounded the Magic, 56-34. It was their largest rebounding margin in a game in nearly four full years. Their last game with a bigger margin was December 14, 2009, when they outrebounded the Warriors by 33.

The 76ers also held a big edge in the paint. They had nearly as many makes in the paint (29) as the Magic took shots in the paint (30).

Stat of the Night
Lastly, for those who remember the NBA from way back when, Elias offers up one more triple-double nugget: The last time two players recorded their first triple-double in the same game was when Pistons Donnie Butcher and Ray Scott did it on March 14, 1964.

Bobcats fighting odds in Lottery

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
10:39
AM ET
The NBA Draft Lottery Wednesday (ESPN, 8 ET) sees the Charlotte Bobcats with the best odds at acquiring the top selection (25.0 percent) after finishing 7-59 on the season. But the worst record hardly secures the top pick, as just last year the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Draft Lottery with only a 2.8 percent chance.

In addition, since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won just three of the 18 lotteries: Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 (Allen Iverson), Cavaliers in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando Magic in 2004 (Dwight Howard). By comparison, the teams with the third and fifth-best odds have won four times.

It is new territory for the Bobcats franchise. Since joining the NBA in 2004, Charlotte has never held the No. 1 overall pick, and the Bobcats highest selection was in 2004 when they picked Emeka Okafor No. 2 overall (Bobcats originally had the No. 4 pick, but traded with the Los Angeles Clippers).

Ten current franchises have never made the No. 1 overall pick in an NBA Draft since 1966 (start of common draft), and along with Charlotte, the Phoenix Suns (0.6 percent chance) are the only other team in the 2012 Lottery.

The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, have a 0.5 percent chance of winning the Lottery, the third straight year they have held the worst odds. In addition, this is the third straight and fifth time in the last 12 years the Rockets have missed the playoffs despite having a winning record.

Looking ahead, since the start of the Lottery in 1985, 13 of the 27 No. 1 overall picks have gone on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, including 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving. In addition, since 1990, four overall No. 1 picks went on to win the Rookie of the Year award and make the postseason (Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber and David Robinson).

Celtics, 76ers no strangers to Game 7

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
9:30
PM ET

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images The Celtics and 76ers meet in a winner-take-all Game 7 in Boston on Saturday night.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics continue their storied playoff rivalry as they meet Saturday night (ABC, 8 ET) in Boston for the seventh all-time Game 7 between these franchises.

The Celtics own a 4-2 advantage in the previous six matchups, but the 76ers won the most recent game three decades ago in the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals.

Game 7 Stats To Know
History appears to be on the Celtics’ side as they are 17-4 all-time at home in Game 7s. They did lose their last such game in 2009 against the Orlando Magic, but they have never lost consecutive Game 7s at home. The Celtics are also 20-7 overall in Game 7s, the most such wins and second-best record in NBA history (min. five games).

The 76ers, on the other hand, are just 1-7 all-time on the road in Game 7s and haven’t played one since 1986. The franchise is 6-8 overall in Game 7s; the eight losses are tied for the most in NBA history.

Celtics Keys to the Game
The Celtics have yet to lose back-to-back games this postseason, having won all four contests following a loss. However, the Celts have not fared well trying to close out a series since the "Big 3" was formed entering the 2007-08 season. They are 10-13 in potential series clinchers (1-2 this postseason).

Kevin Garnett’s jump-shooting has kept the Celtics in this series. Garnett has made 26-of-55 (47 percent) jump shots from 15 feet and beyond. The rest of the Celtics have combined to shoot 30 percent from that distance this series.

The absence of Avery Bradley, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday, is significant for the Celtics, as it takes away their best five-man lineup this postseason.

When Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Garnett have been on the court together, the Celtics have outscored opponents by 53 points. Their next-best lineup has outscored opponents by only 18 points.

76ers Keys to the Game
Philadelphia is looking to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001 and is trying to become the first No. 8 seed to reach the conference finals since the Knicks in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

However, they will need to overcome history in order to make it to the next round.

The 76ers have lost each of the last 13 best-of-seven series in which they have trailed 3-2. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest such streak in NBA history.

One of the deciding factors in this series has been the 76ers' ability to establish the pick and roll. In their three wins, they’re averaging 11 points running the pick and roll. In their three losses, they’re averaging eight points on 29 percent shooting.

Offense has been an issue in the playoffs for the 76ers, who are scoring 86.6 points per game, the fewest among remaining teams. The 76ers haven’t scored more than 92 points in their last 10 games, the longest single postseason streak of its kind since the Pistons in 2006 (11 games).

An unprecedented boost from Bass

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
10:15
PM ET
For a player who had never before scored 20 points in a playoff game, Brandon Bass announced his presence loudly in Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Bass finished with 27 points - 18 of them in the third quarter - in a performance that few could have predicted.
Brandon Bass
Bass


In fact, if his teammates say they've seen this before, they're lying. Entering the night, Bass had not been the Celtics' outright leading scorer in any of their 76 team games this season.

The Celtics had seven different leading scorers in a game this season, including Sasha Pavlovic and Jermaine O'Neal, but Bass wasn't one of them until this game.

He hardly needed any help in the third quarter, when he outscored the 76ers by himself, 18-16. Bass went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the quarter and a near-perfect 6-for-7 from the field.

His 18 points in the quarter were the most he's ever scored in a quarter - regular season or postseason. His previous high was 16 points in the 2nd quarter against the Kings on Feb. 21, 2009.

The performance took some of the scoring load off the Celtics usual cast, and it came at a fortunate time as Ray Allen shot just 2-for-7 and Paul Pierce shot 3-for-7. The last time a Celtics player outside of their core four scored 25 points in a playoff game was when Eddie House went for 31 against the Magic in 2009.

Aside from Bass, the game shifted in the second half when the Celtics defense closed off the lane.

In the first half, the 76ers scored 24 points in the area within five feet of the hoop. It marked their most points within five feet in any half this postseason.

But in the second half the 76ers managed just 10 such points. They stopped going inside as much too - 31.4 percent of their field goal attempts came within five feet of the hoop. In the first half, it was 43 percent.

The win continued a trend of resiliency this postseason for the Boston Celtics - they're a perfect 4-0 this season in games following a loss. That trend might be a lot more comforting were it not matched by the 76ers, who are also 4-0 following a loss.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

Josh Hamilton
Hamilton
1. HAMILTON MAKES HISTORY: Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game on Tuesday night in Baltimore. He is the sixth player in American League history to do it, and the first since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

2. VERY RARE OCCASION: This is the first time in major league history that a pitcher has thrown a perfect game and a hitter has hit four home runs in a game in the same season. Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game earlier this season.

3. ANOTHER RECORD FOR HAMILTON: Hamilton's 18 total bases are an AL record, one shy of Shawn Green's MLB record of 19 in his four-homer game on May 23, 2002. The previous AL record was 16, done eight times.

4. COLLISON HELPS PACERS ADVANCE: The Indiana Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win over the Orlando Magic. It is Indiana's first series win since the First Round in 2005 versus the Boston Celtics. FROM ELIAS: Darren Collison (23 assists, one turnover in series) is the first player in 22 years to have at least 20 assists and one or fewer turnovers in a playoff series. John Paxson did it for the Chicago Bulls in 1990.

5. THREE NBA TEAMS STILL FIGHTING: The Pacers were able to advance, but the Los Angeles Lakers, Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were unable to close out their respective series, as each team lost its Game Five and must play on in the First Round. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time three teams avoided elimination on the same day since April 30, 2003. The Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers all won Game Fives on that date - only the Pistons used the momentum to come back to win the series (beat Magic in seven games).

6. DEVILS ADVANCE DESPITE ODD TREND: FROM ELIAS: The New Jersey Devils lost the opener of their conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers, then won the next four games. Even though Philadelphia scored the first goal in each game, New Jersey is the fourth team in NHL history to win four games in which their opponent scored the first goal in one series. Also, the Devils are the first team to do that in four consecutive games in one series. The other clubs with four such wins one series were the 1956 Detroit Red Wings (vs Toronto Maple Leafs), 1991 Edmonton Oilers (vs Calgary Flames) and 1995 Red Wings (vs Chicago Blackhawks).
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

Derrick Rose
Rose
1. BULLS LOSE A LOT IN WIN: The NBA Playoffs began on Saturday with four games. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 103-91. The win came at a heavy price. Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL late in the fourth quarter and will miss the rest of the playoffs. The Bulls went 18-9 in the 27 regular-season games which Rose missed in 2011-12.

2. JAMES AND HEAT HAND KNICKS ANOTHER POSTSEASON LOSS: The Miami Heat defeated the New York Knicks, 100-67. LeBron James scored 23 of his 32 points in the first half to hand the Knicks their 11th consecutive playoff defeat. The NBA record for most consecutive playoff losses belongs to the Memphis Grizzlies, who lost 12 straight from 2004 to 2006.

3. DURANT CLUTCH AGAIN: The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 99-98. Kevin Durant hit the game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds left in regulation. It is his fourth game-winning field goal in the final five seconds in the last two seasons (playoffs included). That is most by any player in the NBA.

4. NFL DRAFT IS OVER: The 2012 NFL Draft concluded on Saturday. 42 players were drafted from SEC schools, one more than the Big Ten for most the draft picks by conference. It’s the sixth straight year the SEC has had the most selections.

5. KEMP HITS HEROIC HOMER: Matt Kemp hit a walk-off home run to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 4-3 win over the Washington Nationals in 10 innings. It’s Kemp’s 11th home run this month, setting a Dodgers record for most in April. The game also featured the MLB debut of Bryce Harper. He went 1-3, with a double and RBI. Harper is the fourth teenager with an extra-base hit in his MLB debut since 1969.

6. BUSCH TAKES RICHMOND: Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. It’s his seventh runner-up finish since his last Cup Series win on June 15, 2008 at Michigan. Earnhardt Jr.’s winless streak now stands at 138 races.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson
1. FINAL PAIRING AT THE MASTERS: Peter Hanson has a one-shot lead heading into the final round at the Masters Tournament. It’s the first time Hanson has a 54-hole lead at a major. Phil Mickelson is just one shot back after shooting a six-under 66. It’s the first time in his career that he shot six-under or better on the weekend in a major. He’s playing in the last group on Masters Sunday for the fifth time. He’s won the Tournament the previous three times.

2. BECKETT BLASTED BY TIGERS: Josh Beckett allowed five home runs as the Boston Red Sox lost 10-0 to the Detroit Tigers. Beckett didn’t allow his fifth home run last season until June 28. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees lost 8-6 to the Tampa Bay Rays. It is the first time since 1980 that the Red Sox and Yankees both started 0-2.

3. MOYER TAKES PLACE IN RECORD BOOKS: Jamie Moyer pitched five innings for the Colorado Rockies. The 49-year-old hurler was the second-oldest pitcher to start a MLB game. Only Satchel Paige was older (58 years old). He is the oldest player to pitch in a MLB game since Hoyt Wilhelm, who pitched at age 49 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1972.

4. HOWARD SEEING 20-20: Dwight Howard had 20 points and 22 rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s the 41st time that Howard has scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in game, tying Charles Barkley for the third-most and just one behind Hakeem Olajuwon for second-most since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77.

Steven Stamkos
Stamkos
5. STAMKOS SCORES 60: Steven Stamkos scored his 60th goal of the season in the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 OT win over the Winnipeg Jets. Stamkos is just the fifth player to score 60 goals in a season since 1993-94 and the first since Alex Ovechkin scored 65 in the 2007-08 season.

6. LET THE POSTSEASON BEGIN: The NHL Playoff matchups are set with the New York Rangers getting the top seed in the East and the Vancouver Canucks getting the top seed in the West. Vancouver clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the second-straight season. However, having the most points in the regular season doesn’t guarantee playoff success. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings were the only team in the last nine years to win the Stanley Cup after winning the Presidents’ Trophy.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories


1. BAYLOR WOMEN MAKE IT A PERFECT 40: Baylor wins the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship with a 80-61 win over Notre Dame. Brittney Griner (26 Pts, 13 Reb, 5 Blk) was named Most Outstanding Player. The Lady Bears become the 1st men’s or women’s basketball team to reach 40 wins in a season.

2. LeBRON GOES FOR 40: The Miami Heat clinch their 4th straight playoff appearance with a 99-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. LeBron James scores a season-high 41 points. FROM ELIAS: The only other NBA player this season to record more than 40 points in a game in which his team failed to score 100 points is Kobe Bryant, who did that three times in a five-day span in January.

3. KNICKS FALL APART LATE: The Indiana Pacers defeat the New York Knicks, 112-104. FROM ELIAS: That is the largest margin of victory for any NBA team in a game it was losing by 15-or-more points heading into the fourth quarter since October 30, 2010, when the Bulls rallied to beat the Pistons in Chicago, 101-91.

4. RANGERS CLINCH TOP SEED: The New York Rangers clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. It marks the first time that the Rangers secured the East’s best record since the 1993-94 season. That’s the last time the Blueshirts won the Stanley Cup.

Sidney Crosby
Crosby
5. CROSBY SCORING LATELY: Sidney Crosby scores two goals, with an assist in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 5-3 win over the Boston Bruins. FROM ELIAS: Crosby has scored 22 points in 12 games (5 goals, 17 assists) since March 15, when he returned to action. That makes him the NHL scoring leader since that date, one point ahead of teammate Evgeni Malkin.
Statistically speaking, the Miami Heat put on a performance Friday night that was akin to what you might see in a game like NBA Jam.

The Heat’s 14 dunks are the most they’ve had in any game in the past five seasons. All but one were by either Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. That was the most dunks the Heat have had in any game this season by a wide margin. Their next-most was 10 against the New York Knicks on January 27.

Those dunks in turn led to a season-high 64 points in the paint, including their first 18 of the game. The Heat’s Big Three was 23-for-32 from inside five feet.

Wade, James, and Bosh each made 11 field goals and shot over 60 percent from the field. Elias notes that the last trio to each shoot better than 60 percent AND make at least 11 shots from the field was Al Jefferson, Paul Pierce, and Tony Allen for the Boston Celtics in the 2006-07 season.

Elsewhere around the league the Dallas Mavericks entered its game against the Orlando Magic having won five straight road meetings. The longest current winning streak any team had against the Magic in Orlando.

Dwight Howard did his part to stop the streak with 19 points and 15 rebounds, marking his 42nd double-double this season (second-most in the NBA).

The Mavericks trailed most of the game even by as many as seven points entering the fourth quarter. However their defense forced the Magic into poor shooting and turnovers in the final period, which ultimately spelled doom for Orlando. The Magic shot just 35 percent from the field while turning it over six times.

The Mavericks took advantage of those mistakes, scoring nine points off of turnovers in the fourth quarter.

The final blow to the Magic was Dirk Nowitzki hitting the game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds left.

Elias says it was the 11th time in his NBA career that Nowitzki made a game-winning basket in the final 10 seconds of a game, and the second time this season. Seven of Nowitzki’s 11 such hoops came on the road, including each of the last three.

The Mavericks are now 75-31 (.708) against Eastern Conference teams since Rick Carlisle took over as the team’s head coach in 2008. That is the highest inter-conference winning percentage for any team in the league over that span.

Number of the Night
The Celtics took over first place in the Atlantic Division with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and loss by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Washington Wizards. The 76ers had a share of first place for 93 straight days.

They entered first place on December 28, and held at least a share every day until Friday night.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Rubio breaks down Sixers defense

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
3:18
PM ET

US Presswire
Ricky Rubio was able to find a variety of ways to score against the NBA's top-ranked defense Sunday.

The Philadelphia 76ers are the best defensive team in the NBA this season, but fell short of that distinction against Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Rubio scored a career-high 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field, including 2-of-4 on 3-point attempts. He added five assists with only one turnover.

Rubio scored in a variety of ways on Sunday -- long jumpers (eight points), mid-range jumpers (four points), off the ball (eight points), pick-and-roll plays (eight points), and drives to the basket (eight points).

The 76ers are allowing the fewest points per play in the league this season. One of their biggest strengths on the defensive end is defending pick-and-rolls including passes, where they also rank better than all other teams in points per play allowed.

But on Sunday, Rubio shot 4-of-6 for eight points with one assist and no turnovers on seven pick-and-roll plays.

Both of Rubio's spot-up 3-pointers also came in pick-and-roll situations. Both plays came when Luke Ridnour came off a pick-and-roll on the right wing and threw a skip pass to an open Rubio on the left wing.

Jrue Holiday had trouble stopping Rubio, who scored 18 of his 22 points and dished out four assists with one turnover against the 76ers point guard.

Holiday particularly had trouble defending Rubio on pick-and-roll plays, where Rubio shot 4-of-5 for eight points and dished out four assists with only one turnover on six plays when being defended by Holiday. Such a defensive performance is atypical for Holiday -- only Raymond Felton ranks better this season at defending pick-and-roll ball-handlers among those with at least 150 plays.

Rubio displayed his offensive versatility while matched up with Holiday with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter, when Rubio came off a pick-and-roll and knocked down a 16-foot jumper to give Minnesota an 88-87 lead. That jump shot helped lead the Timberwolves to their third straight victory.

Rubio's performance against the 76ers Sunday was one of his most complete performances of the season. It's the fifth time he has had at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists, and the Timberwolves have won all five of those games.

Among players with at least 150 plays this season, Rubio ranks 222nd out of 251 players in points per play. There is certainly plenty of room for improvement in that regard.

If his offensive scoring output continues to improve, he will be even more of an all-around threat. Over the last two games, Rubio has 40 points, 13 field goals and four 3-pointers -- the most he's had in any two-game stretch.

SPONSORED HEADLINES