Ray Allen set an NBA record passing Reggie Miller for most career three-point field goals, but the Los Angeles Lakers spoiled the celebration as they picked up an all-important road win and split the season series with the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers earned their first win of the season against one of the four teams that were ahead of them in the standings, and now are 1-5 against the league’s best (San Antonio Spurs, Celtics, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks).
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 23 points while doing most of his damage against Allen late in the fourth quarter. He scored six of his 13 fourth-quarter points when guarded by Allen in the final 4:49. Last month, Bryant struggled under the same circumstances when defended by Allen.
Kobe Bryant in Fourth Quarter
Defended by Ray Allen
With the loss, the Celtics drop into a tie with the Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. It's the first time this season in which the Heat shared a part of the conference's top seed. One major reason why the Celtics fell short against the Lakers was because they couldn't handle the defending champs down low.
Entering the game, the Celtics' post-up defense ranked fourth in points per possession (0.95), while the Lakers' post-up offense ranked sixth (0.92). On Thursday, the Lakers won that battle, averaging 1.07 points per possession under the hoop.
Elsewhere, in arguably the best finish of the night, the Denver Nuggets ended the Mavericks' 10-game win streak on a buzzer-beater by Arron Afflalo (first of his career). At 25 years old, Afflalo is the second-youngest player to hit one this season (Rudy Gay). The Nuggets are the only team to win two games this season on buzzer-beaters (Carmelo Anthony had one against the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 26).
Speaking of Anthony, he finished with 42 points in 42 minutes. He was 17-25 (68.0 pct) from the field, which is the second-highest FG pct of his career (min. 25 attempts).
Anthony is no stranger to scoring just as the Nuggets are no strangers to stopping streaks. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that over the last 10 seasons, Denver has six wins against teams that entered the game on a double-digit winning streak, the most such victories by any NBA team during that period.
Earlier on Thursday, Jerry Sloan resigned as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, a position he's held since Dec. 9, 1988. How long is that? Forty current NBA players weren't even born when his tenure started, including the Jazz’ Gordon Hayward.
Most Seasons With 1 Franchise
0 Championships, 4 Major Sports
The only coach in NBA history who won more games than Sloan without winning an NBA title is Don Nelson, who's the league's all-time winningest head coach with 1,335 victories.
Sloan's 23 seasons with one franchise without winning a championship are the most any coach has spent with one franchise without winning a title among the four major professional sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB).
Over the last five months, the sports world has seen the longest tenured head coaches in the NFL, NBA and MLB leave their positions. After 21 seasons, Bobby Cox retired from the Atlanta Braves following the 2010 season. Jeff Fisher will not be back after 17 seasons with the Tennessee Titans, and now Sloan. And in case you were wondering, the longest tenured coach in the NHL is Lindy Ruff, who's in his 13th season with the Buffalo Sabres.