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Clippers' streak ends, falling victim to January 1 hex
From Elias: The Clippers' 17-game winning streak, one of only 17 winning streaks in the history of the NBA that have reached that length, was ended when they lost in Denver, 92-78. It's interesting that nine of those 17 winning streaks have now ended with a loss by a double-digit margin.
And get this, calendar lovers: This is the third time that an NBA winning streak of 17-or-more games has ended with a loss on January 1. (No other date on the calendar has seen the end of more than one such winning streak.) In the NBA's inaugural season of 1946-47 (the league was then known as the Basketball Association of America), the Washington Capitols saw their 17-game winning streak end with a 62-57 loss to the Detroit Falcons on Jan. 1, 1947; and the 1959-60 Celtics had their 17-game winning streak terminated with a 128-115 loss to the Cincinnati Royals on Jan. 1, 1960. Another common thread for those two teams, other than that they ended with a loss on the first day of the year? Both that Capitols team and that Celtics team were coached by Red Auerbach!
Nuggets get another streak-stopping notch under their belt
From Elias: The Nuggets ended the Clippers' 17-game winning streak with a New Year's night home victory. It's the second time that the Nuggets have written finish to a winning streak that long; on Feb. 4, 1996, Bernie Bickerstaff led Denver to a 105-99 victory over the Jackson/Jordan/Pippen/Rodman Bulls, who had won their 18 previous games. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf led the Nuggets with 32 points in that game, while Dikembe Mutombo collected 17 rebounds.
Atlanta wins as Hawks and Hornets set shot-clock-era NBA record for free-throw futility
From Elias: Josh Smith scored 23 points and Al Horford added 20 to lift the Hawks to a 95-86 decision at New Orleans. It was the 20th NBA game in which both of those players reached the 20-point plateau, and Atlanta has come away the winner in 15 of those 20 games.
But the New Year's night game in New Orleans was historic for a much different reason: the Hawks made only four of their eight free-throw attempts, while the Hornets made just four of 12. Put them together and you get a combined free-throw percentage of 40 percent (eight made in 20 attempts), the lowest in any of the 49,000-plus NBA regular-season games played since the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in the fall of 1954.
Graybeards Carter and Marion get it done for Dallas
From Elias: Vince Carter, who will turn 36 later this month, and Shawn Marion, a relative kid at 34, had game-high totals of 23 points and 14 rebounds, respectively, as the Mavericks ended their six-game losing streak with a 103-94 win at Washington. It was the second NBA game this season in which a pair of 34-or-older teammates produced game-high totals in points and rebounds; back on November 17, 35-year-old Manu Ginobili (20 points) and 34-year-old Stephen Jackson (nine rebounds) turned the trick in a Spurs' victory over the Nuggets. There had been only two such games, by the way, over the previous 10 NBA seasons. Which teammates had the most such games in NBA history - being the game's leading scorer and rebounder while each was past his 34th birthday? C'mon, you can get this one. It was done 39 times, all over a period of less than 14 months, no less, in 1997 and 1998, by teammates Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman.
Anthony & Smith score 73 of team's 100, but Knicks lose
From Elias: Carmelo Anthony scored 45 points in the Knicks' loss to the Trail Blazers, matching his season high set on December 11 in a victory at Brooklyn. Anthony is the first Knicks player with a pair of 45-plus games in a season since Allan Houston produced games of 53 and 50 in the 2002-03 season.
J. R. Smith scored 28 points for New York, so two players accounted for 73 of the team's 100 points, marking the second-highest percentage of team points accounted for by two players in the 67-season history of the Knicks. And the Knicks lost the other game, too, back on Dec. 11, 2001, when Latrell Sprewell (49) and Houston (24) accounted for 78.5 percent of the team's total in a 102-93 overtime loss to the Celtics.
Balanced scoring among starters wins it for Blazers
From Elias: Nicolas Batum (26), Damian Lillard (21), LaMarcus Aldridge (19) and J. J. Hickson (18) combined for 84 points in the Trail Blazers' 105-100 victory at Madison Square Garden. It marked the first time since the season opener that four Portland players had each scored 18-or-more points in a game.
Jrue's all-around game invokes a reference to Wilt
From Elias: Jrue Holiday combined 26 points, 10 assists and 10-of-19 shooting to lead the 76ers to a 103-99 verdict over the Lakers at the Staples Center. It has been nearly five years since a 76ers player had a performance of that type in a road game; the last Sixers player to go on the road and score 25-or-more points, amass double-digit assists and make more than half of his shots from the floor was Andre Iguodala (30 points, 10 assists, 9-of-15 shooting) in a win at Atlanta on April 4, 2008. The only other Sixers player with such a game against the Lakers in Los Angeles was Wilt Chamberlain, who had two such games in the 1965-66 season.
Nash's 500th game with 10-plus assists
From Elias: Steve Nash had 10 assists in the Lakers' loss to Philadelphia - the 500th time in his 1,159-game NBA career that he has reached double-digits in assists. He's the fourth player in NBA history to be credited with 10-or-more assists in 500 games, joining the usual suspects - Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson and John Stockton, who is the record-holder with 863 such games.
Pistons, with hot shooters, win third straight
From Elias: The Pistons, having beaten the Heat and the Bucks in their last two games, couldn't lose at home to the Kings, could they? Well, they didn't, anyway, as Brandon Knight and Tayshaun Prince combined to hit 13 of their 21 shots in a 103-97 victory. Detroit has made 121 of its 231 field-goal attempts over those last three games, its highest field-goal percentage over any three-game span this season.