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PIERCE SHINES IN RONDO'S ABSENCE
From Elias: With Rajon Rondo sidelined, Paul Pierce turned in a virtuoso performance, scoring 34 points and recording 10 assists in a 100-94 win at Washington. It was the fifth 30/10 game of Pierce's career (points and assists, that is), but his first since March 2006. It was also the first NBA game in which Pierce reached double-figures in field goals (10-for-15), free throws (12-for-15), and assists.
BUCKS OVERCOME POOR SHOOTING IN ROAD WIN
From Elias: The Bucks made only 35 percent of their field-goal attempts on Sunday but managed to post a 91-82 victory at Miami. It was only the second time in franchise history that Milwaukee recorded a road victory despite a shooting 35 percent or worse from the field. The first was a 91-87 win at Washington in December 1986 in which the Bucks shot 34.7 percent, including a 1-for-4 shooting performance by the team's current head coach, Scott Skiles.
WILLIAMS MISSES 1ST-EVER TRIPLE-DOUBLE
From Elias: Deron Williams scored 19 points with 10 assists in the Nets' 97-87 win over the Bobcats, but he missed the first triple-double of his NBA career by the margin of a single rebound. Williams has recorded 215 double-doubles, by far the most by any active NBA guard who has never posted a triple-double. Jose Calderon is a distant second on that list with 76 double-doubles.
MALKIN TIES PERSONAL-BEST POINT-SCORING STREAK
From Elias: Evgeni Malkin extended his goal-scoring streak to six games when he scored in overtime to earn the Penguins a 4-3 win over the Capitals. Malkin scored goals in each of the first six games of his NHL career (Oct. 18-Nov. 1, 2006) but until Sunday he had not recorded another goal-scoring streak of that length. Malkin's streak equals the NHL season high: six games by Nashville's Patric Hornqvist and Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell. It's also the longest goal-scoring streak by a Penguins player since Sidney Crosby's six-game skein in December 2006.
OVECHKIN FINALLY PRODUCES VS. PENGUINS
From Elias: Alex Ovechkin tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in the Capitals' 4-3 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, one more than he recorded in seven previous games against the Penguins over the last two seasons (two goals, no assists). Ovechkin's goal, which gave Washington a 3-2 lead early in the third period, was his 20th of the season. Ovechkin needed no more than 33 games to reach the 20-goal plateau in any of his first five seasons, and it took him only 22 games to do so two seasons ago (2009-2010), but he needed 53 games to score 20 goals last season and 47 games this season.
HARTNELL'S A NATURAL
From Elias: The Flyers trailed, 3-1, entering the second period of their game against the Bruins but when the period ended they held a 4-3 lead thanks to three goals by Scott Hartnell. There were 11 natural hat tricks in the NHL last season but Hartnell was only the second player to record one this season. The first was Evgeni Malkin, who scored three consecutive goals in the third period of the Penguins' game in Tampa on January 15.
RYAN SCORES IN PAIRS AT HOME
From Elias: Bobby Ryan, who scored a pair of goals for the Ducks in their 3-2 home-ice win over the Avalanche, has recorded five multiple-goal games this season and they've all come in Anaheim. That ties him with Steven Stamkos for the NHL high in multi-goal home games this season.
SNEAKY BRADY SCORES THE GAME-WINNER
From Elias: Tom Brady's 1-yard sneak early in the fourth quarter provided the deciding points in the Patriots' 23-20 win over the Ravens. It was the first time that Brady has scored a go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter of an NFL game, in either the regular season or the playoffs.
Brady was only the third quarterback in the last 40 years to score a fourth-quarter game-winning TD in the postseason. Kenny Stabler did it in 1976 (Raiders vs. Patriots) and Billy Volek following the 2007 season (Chargers vs. Colts).
BRADY'S TD STREAK SNAPPED JUST SHORT OF RECORD
From Elias: Tom Brady threw two interceptions without a touchdown in the Patriots' victory. That snapped Brady's streak of 18 consecutive postseason games with at least one TD pass, which was two short of Brett Favre's NFL record.
PATRIOTS' MESSY VICTORY WAS RARE INDEED
From Elias: New England's victory may have been the most unlikely in a playoff game in several generations. The Patriots committed three turnovers compared to only one by the Ravens, who outgained the Pats by 68 yards (398-330).
There were 111 other NFL playoff games in which one team was plus-2 or better in turnover margin and outgained its opponent by at least 50 yards. All but one of those teams was victorious. The only team other than the Patriots to overcome yardage and turnover deficits that large to win a postseason game was the Eagles, with a 17-13 victory over the Packers in the 1960 NFL title game. That was Vince Lombardi's first NFL playoff game, his only playoff loss, and the Eagles' last championship.
CUNDIFF'S MISS ECHOES STENERUD'S
From Elias: Sunday's Sleepless Night Award goes to Billy Cundiff, who missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds to play in the Ravens' three-point loss. Only one other player in NFL postseason history missed a potential game-tying or go-ahead field goal as short as Cundiff's in the final 2 minutes of the fourth quarter: Jan Stenerud of the Chiefs, in a 27-24 two-overtime loss to the Dolphins on Christmas Day 1971.
Stenerud went on to a Hall of Fame career, primarily with the Chiefs. He was the NFL career leader in field goals from 1983 to 1996.
GIANTS BEAT 3 TEAMS WITH BETTER REGULAR-SEASON RECORDS
From Elias: By defeating the Falcons, Packers, and 49ers, the Giants became only the second team to reach the Super Bowl via playoff victories over three opponents with a better regular-season record than their own. The only other team to take that path to the Super Bowl was Arizona, which posted the same 9-7 record in 2008 that the Giants did this season.
MANNING POSTS BACK-TO-BACK 300-YARD GAMES
From Elias: Eli Manning passed for 316 yards in the Giants' victory at San Francisco after a 330-yard game against the Packers one week earlier. Manning is only the second player to take his team to the Super Bowl with back-to-back 300-yard passing games in the Divisional round and conference title game. The first was Jim Kelly of the Bills in 1991.
TYNES IS 1ST TO SCORE TWICE IN PLAYOFF OVERTIME
From Elias: Lawrence Tynes, whose 31-yard field goal in overtime sent the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI, kicked a 47-yarder in overtime of the 2007 NFC Championship Game against the Packers. Tynes is the first player in NFL history to score the winning points in two playoff overtime games.