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BEST-SHOOTING PLAYOFF GAME OF LEBRON'S CAREER
LeBron James made 16 of 23 field-goal attempts and wound up with 40 points in the Cavaliers' 112-102 victory over the Bulls in Game Two of their first-round series. James produced the best shooting percentage in any of the 62 NBA playoff games in which he has played; his 69.6-percent shooting eclipsed his previous high of 66.7 percent, established in a Game One loss in last year's Eastern Conference Finals against the Magic.
LeBron also contributed eight rebounds and eight assists to the Cleveland win. In only one other playoff game in NBA history has a player scored 40-or-more points with at least eight rebounds, at least eight assists, and a field-goal percentage of at least 69 percent. On June 1, 1993, playing for the Suns against the SuperSonics in the Western Conference Finals, Charles Barkley had 43 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists while making 16 of 22 shots (72.7 percent).
Monday's game marked the fifth time in his last 10 playoff games that James has scored 40-or-more points. He had only had four games of 40-plus points over his first 52 playoff games.
ONLY FOUR TURNOVERS, BUT STILL A LOSS
The Bulls committed only four turnovers in their Game Two loss to the Cavaliers, tying an NBA playoff record for the fewest turnovers in a loss. On May 9, 1991, the Pistons committed only four turnovers in a 109-103 loss to the Celtics.
Since the NBA began keeping track of turnovers in 1970, the lowest total in a single playoff game is three by the Pistons in a 91-86 win over the Magic two years ago.
WILLIAMS: 33 POINTS, 14 ASSISTS & A ROAD WIN
How remarkable was the performance by Williams? In the history of the NBA playoffs, only one other player had as many points and as many assists in leading his team to a road victory - and it has been 43 years since that one previous instance! Back on March 21, 1967 (yes, there was a time when the NBA playoffs started just after St. Patrick's Day), Oscar Robertson had 33 points and 16 assists to lead his Cincinnati Royals to a 120-116 win over Wilt Chamberlain's 76ers in the opening game of an Eastern Division semifinals series.
RAYS SWEEP SOX AND A NATION MOURNS
The Rays completed a four-game series sweep of the Red Sox with an 8-2 victory at Fenway Park. It's news for the Sox to be swept in a four-gamer at any time, but especially at Fenway and doubly-especially at this time of the year. Over the past 10 seasons (2000-09), Boston's home record in games played before May 1 was 80-34 (.702), the best by any team in the majors.
The last time that the Sox were swept in a four-game April series was in 1996, a series that also culminated with a decisive loss on Patriots Day - in that case, an 8-0 loss to the Indians. Boston's starting pitchers during that 1996 series were Aaron Sele, Tom Gordon, a 33-year-old Jamie Moyer... and a 29-year-old Tim Wakefield, then in his second season with the team.
The Red Sox are now 1-6 at home this season - only the third time in their history that they have lost six of their first seven decisions at home. They started 1-6 at home in both 1928 and 1932.
CRAWFORD: 31 STRAIGHT SUCCESSFUL STEALS VS. RED SOX
Carl Crawford had another stolen base for the Rays on Monday: he had one steal in each game of Tampa Bay's series in Boston. Crawford now has 31 consecutive steals against the Red Sox, a streak that dates back to the start of the 2006 season. It's the longest streak of successful steals against one team by any big leaguer since Craig Biggio had 32 straight steals against the Expos from 1995 to 2002.
CALL HIM "MISTER FISTER"
Doug Fister threw six no-hit innings before Nick Markakis spoiled his bid with a leadoff single in the seventh and the Mariners went on to defeat the Orioles, 8-2. Prior to Markakis' hit, Fister had extended his streak of holding opponents hitless to 31 at-bats - the last 13 at-bats in his start against the Athletics last week and the Orioles' first 18 at-bats on Monday night.
Only two pitchers in Mariners history have enjoyed longer streaks: Randy Johnson held opponents hitless in 35 consecutive at-bats in May 1993 and John Montague set the team record of 40 hitless opponents at-bats back in July 1977.
GETTING TO BE OLD HAT FOR MORROW
Brandon Morrow allowed one run and three hits over seven innings to lead the Blue Jays to victory over the Royals, 8-1. Morrow, making just his 18th major-league start, did not allow a hit over the first five innings. That evoked memories of September of 2008 when, in his first major-league start, Morrow (then pitching for the Mariners) held the Yankees without a hit until Wilson Betemit's two-out double in the eighth inning; and then later in the month, in his fourth start, Morrow took a no-hitter into the sixth against the Athletics.
Only one other active major-league pitcher has taken no-hitters into the sixth inning three times over the course of his first 20 major-league starts: Johnny Cueto of the Reds. In contrast, four active major-league pitchers have made at least 200 starts and have never taken a no-no into the sixth inning: Gil Meche, Joel Pineiro, Aaron Harang and Kelvim Escobar.
ECKSTEIN COMES UP BIG
David Eckstein reached Jeremy Affeldt for a walk-off homer leading off the bottom of the 10th inning as the Padres downed the Giants, 3-2. It was only the 35th home run of Eckstein's 10-year major-league career, but his third walk-off blast; in fact, his two other game-ending homers were both grand-slams - delivered for the Angels in 2002 and for the Cardinals in 2005.
WATCH OUT... PINEIRO IS STARTING TO MASTER CLUTCH SITUATIONS
Joel Pineiro scattered nine hits over 7 1/3 innings and earned the win in the Angels' 2-0 blanking of the Tigers. The key: Detroit managed only one hit in seven at-bats (an infield single by Scott Sizemore) with runners in scoring position.
Pineiro lowered his ERA to 1.77 after three starts, over which he has limited opponents to a .188 batting average with runners in scoring position. And mind you, that has been the right-hander's Achilles heel in the recent past: over the past five seasons (2005-09), opponents batted .326 against Pineiro in those situations, the highest batting average allowed by any of the 52 major-league pitchers against whom opponents have at least 700 RISP at-bats over that span.
PENNY IS LIKE GOLD AGAINST D'BACKS
Brad Penny allowed two runs over seven innings to earn the victory in the Cardinals' 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks. Penny has been lights-out over the years against Arizona: he's now 10-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 18 starts and 117 1/3 innings against the desert dwellers.
Only two other active major leaguers have thrown at least 100 innings against an opposing team and have fashioned a sub-2.00 ERA against that team. Ervin Santana is 10-2 with a 1.41 ERA in 108 1/3 innings against the Athletics, and Derek Lowe is 7-2 with a 1.87 ERA in 101 innings against the Tigers.
NATIONALS GETTING HITS AT THE RIGHT TIMES
Willie Harris' three-run homer in the second inning put the Nationals on course for a 5-2 victory over the Rockies - and if you have been paying close attention to the Nationals early this season, you should not have been surprised. Washington has been getting big hits at opportune times, producing a National League-leading .353 batting average (24 hits in 68 at-bats) with at least two runners on base. Ivan Rodriguez is 6-for-10 in those situations, including a hit on Monday night.
PAGAN'S HR ENDS METS' EXTRA-BASE-HIT DROUGHT
Angel Pagan belted a tie-breaking home run in the seventh inning and the Mets went on to take a 6-1 decision from the Cubs. Pagan's blow ended the Mets' streak of 117 consecutive at-bats without an extra-base hit - the team's longest drought of that kind since it endured a span of 121 at-bats without an extra-base hit back in early June of 1983.
BERGERON'S 2ND PLAYOFF GOAL & HIS 2ND GAME-WINNER
Patrice Bergeron scored to break a 1-1 tie with just over seven minutes left in the third period and the Bruins protected that lead the rest of the way to take a two-games-to-one lead in their series against the Sabres. Bergeron's goal was only the second in his 21-game playoff career and it ended his 18-game postseason goal drought. Bergeron's only other playoff goal came in 2004, in his second postseason game, and he scored it in overtime to beat the Canadiens.
CAPITALS WIN BIG IN MONTREAL
The Capitals won, 5-1, in Montreal, in Game Three of their first-round playoff series. How about this weird breakdown for the Capitals: they are 13-27 (.325) all-time in road playoff games decided by the margin of a single goal, but they are 25-20 (.556) in road playoff games decided by a margin of at least two goals.
DOUGHTY TIES KINGS PLAYOFF RECORD
Drew Doughty had a goal and three assists in the Kings' 5-3 win over Vancouver in Game Three on Monday night. His total of four points matched Paul Coffey's franchise record for most points by a defenseman in a playoff game; Coffey had two goals and two assists versus his former team, the Oilers, on April 20, 1992.