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`Melo leads Knicks offense, late defense smothers Celtics
From Elias: Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 36 points, then earned his only assist of the game by directing Kenyon Martin to go down low and hitting him with a bullet pass for the game's clinching bucket as the Knicks opened the playoffs by defeating the Celtics, 85-78. Anthony produced the most points in an NBA playoff victory in which his team scored 85-or-fewer points since Karl Malone scored 39 points in Utah's 83-81 victory over Michael Jordan and the Bulls at Chicago in Game Five of the 1998 NBA Finals.
The Knicks held the Celtics to just 25 points in the second half, Boston's lowest total in a half in any of its 592 playoff games. Boston also tied a franchise playoff record with its eight points in the fourth quarter, which was its 2,368th quarter in those 592 playoff games. The only other time that the Celtics scored eight points in a quarter in a playoff game came in the first of those 2,368 quarters-yes, the first quarter of their first playoff game-in what would be a 79-72 loss to the Chicago Stags on March 28, 1948!
Old legs beat young legs in Denver
From Elias: Andre Miller, at age 37, beat 23-year-old rookie Draymond Green off the dribble and drove the lane for a game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds remaining in the Nuggets' 97-95 series-opening victory over the Warriors. Miller scored a game-high 28 points off the bench, the most points scored by a 37-or-older substitute in an NBA playoff game since Eddie Johnson, then 38, scored 31 points to help the Rockets to a victory over the Jazz in Game Three of the 1997 Western Conference Finals.
Clippers' offense too much for Grizzlies
From Elias: Seven Clippers players scored in double-digits, tying a franchise record, and the Clippers ripped the Grizzlies' vaunted defense for 112 points, including 37 in the fourth quarter, to send Memphis to defeat in Game One. The only other time that seven Clippers have scored 10-or-more points in a playoff game came on April 29, 2006, when Corey Maggette led the team with 19 points in a 100-86 win over Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets.
Memphis had only one game this season in which it allowed as many as 112 points (that came in a 121-96 loss at Houston on December 22) and it had only one game in which it surrendered as many as 37 points in a fourth quarter (that came in a 39-point fourth quarter by the Trail Blazers at Portland on March 12).
Hot-shooting Nets win Game One
From Elias: The Nets got balanced scoring and high-percentage shooting to make it look easy in defeating the Bulls, 106-89, in their playoff opener. Deron Williams (22 points) and Brook Lopez (21) led Brooklyn's scoring, but the biggest number on the stat sheet was the "55.8" that represented the team's field-goal percentage. It was the Nets' highest figure in that column in their last 79 playoff games, since they shot 60 percent and lost to the Michael Jordan version of the Bulls in Game Three of a first-round series in 1998.
Nava's home run will be long remembered
From Elias: Daniel Nava's two-out, three-run home run in the last half of the eighth inning gave the Red Sox a 4-2 lead and Boston held on for a 4-3 victory over the Royals, appropriately capping a reflective, appreciative and ultimately joyous afternoon at Fenway Park. The home run came shortly after Neil Diamond's on-field appearance to lead the singing of "Sweet Caroline."
Nava-since coming to the majors in 2010, a .333 hitter (33 hits in 99 at-bats) for the Red Sox with runners on base and two outs-has supplied several big hits for the Sox early this season, and has now accounted for four of the team's 15 home runs. In fact, Nava belted Boston's only other homer with two-or-more runners on base this season: that was also a three-run, go-ahead, late-inning blast, a seventh-inning shot off Wei-Yin Chen breaking up a scoreless tie against the Orioles, on April 8-in reality, less than two weeks ago, but seems like a lot longer, no?
Harper's home run pace ties record set by a Hall-of-Famer
From Elias: Bryce Harper hit a pair of home runs-the second one coming on the first pitch of the eighth inning after the Mets had just tied the game-to lead the Nationals to a 7-6 victory on Saturday. Harper has now hit seven home runs through Washington's first 17 games this season. The only other major-leaguer not yet 21 years old to hit seven homers so few (team) games into a season was Mel Ott, who got his seventh in the New York Giants' 17th game in 1929.
Trout singles and slams in 1st inning
From Elias: Mike Trout singled and scored in the first inning, then came up again later in that inning and hit a grand-slam homer to cap a nine-run opening inning in the Angels' 10-0 rout of the Tigers. The kicker? Trout had both hits off the same pitcher, Detroit starter Rick Porcello. Bah-dum-dum.
It was not exactly an equal to the feat of Fernando Tatis, who hit two grand-slam home runs in the same inning, somehow both off the Dodgers' Chan Ho Park, back in 1999. But it's rare enough. Trout was the first major-league player to hit a grand-slam homer after having had a hit off the same pitcher earlier in the same inning since the Athletics' Rajai Davis connected for a double and a slam off the Angels' Scott Kazmir on July 10, 2010.
What a difference 52 weeks make
From Elias: Starting for the White Sox at Seattle on the third Saturday in April 2012, Philip Humber threw a perfect game. Starting for the Astros against the Indians on the third Saturday in April 2013, Humber earned just one out while allowing eight runs on eight hits and a walk. Humber became the second starting pitcher within a six-hour span to give up at least eight runs while failing to complete the first inning; Detroit's Rick Porcello had allowed nine runs while getting two outs against the Angels. It was the first day in major-league history on which more than one major-league starter allowed eight-or-more runs while failing to complete the first inning.
The Indians scored eight in the first and six in the second. In only four other games in major-league history did a team score at least eight in the first and at least six in the second; the last team to do it was the Phillies against the Mets in 1985 (nine in the first, seven in the second). And the only previous time that it happened in the American League, it was also done by the Indians, against the Yankees in 1928 (eight in the first, nine in the second).
Wells and Buehrle have changed uniforms but not results
From Elias: Vernon Wells went 2-for-3, including a home run, against Mark Buehrle and the Yankees went on to annex a 5-3 victory in 11 innings at Toronto. Wells has been feasting on Buehrle for years; he now has 23 hits in 47 at-bats against the veteran lefty, a .489 batting average. Among active players who have faced each other for a minimum of 40 at-bats, there are only two higher this-batter-vs.-that-pitcher batting averages: Carlos Beltran has batted .548 (23 for 42) against Kyle Lohse and Matt Holliday has hit an even .500 (20 for 40) against Derek Lowe. (Lance Berkman, like Wells against Buehrle, is also 23 for 47 against Jason Marquis.)
Orioles beat Dodgers twice, and beat Beckett for 5th straight time
From Elias: J. J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold homered off starter Hyun-Jin Ryu in the afternoon game and Chris Davis and Manny Machado homered off Josh Beckett at night as the Orioles took measure of the Dodgers in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1. The Orioles really have Beckett's number, having beaten him in each of his last five starts against them, including two in late September of 2011, as the Red Sox were in the process of blowing their large division lead, and two last year before Beckett was sent to Los Angeles. The last time that the Orioles won five straight starts against a pitcher who had 100-plus career wins to his credit was when they won five in a row against Don Sutton from 1983 to 1985. (Of course, the Orioles would have traded all five of those wins just to have beaten him in the 1982 regular-season finale, when Sutton bested Jim Palmer in a de-facto playoff game for the American League East title.)
Mauer "slumping," gets only 2 hits vs. White Sox
From Elias: Joe Mauer cooled off: he went only 2-for-4 in the Twins' 2-1 victory over the White Sox in 10 innings in Chicago. Mauer had gone 4-for-5 in each of his last two games, against the Angels, and so he now has 10 hits over his last three games. Believe it or not, that's not Mauer's career high for hits over a three-game span; he had 11 hits over three games in June 2006.
Here's some news: Braves score... and lose!
From Elias: James McDonald permitted the Braves only one run and two hits over six innings, earning credit for the Pirates' 3-1 victory, and stopping Atlanta's quirky record-tying steak. The Braves had won all 13 games this season in which they had scored as much as one run; that's right, prior to Saturday's game at Pittsburgh, all three of their losses had come on shutouts. That 13-game start-of-season winning streak in games in which they scored at least one run tied the longest such streak in modern major-league history; the 1982 Braves and the 1987 Brewers each started the season with 13 straight wins, and then scored in, but lost, their next game.
Cleanup-hitter Phillips gets another late game-winner
From Elias: Brandon Phillips lofted a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 13th inning, sending home the winning run in the Reds' 3-2 victory over the Marlins. For Phillips (looking oh-so-comfortable in the cleanup spot from which he is batting .328 with 20 RBIs in 16 games), it was his third game-winning RBI in the eighth inning or later this season, highest total for any big-league player.
Joyce homer provides only run of game
From Elias: Jeremy Hellickson and two relievers limited the Athletics to three hits and Matt Joyce homered in the Rays' 1-0 victory over Oakland. It was the seventh time in the Rays' 16 seasons in the majors that they had won a game in which one of their players homered for the lone run; the last such incidence came three years ago, when Reid Brignac's 11th-inning blow beat the Yankees.
Craig is still clutch
From Elias: Allen Craig's two-out, bases-loaded single off Cliff Lee produced the game's first two runs, and that was all that Lance Lynn and two of his bullpen buddies would need in the Cardinals' 5-0 victory at Philadelphia. You may recall that last season, Craig batted .400 (50 hits in 125 at-bats, nice and easy to remember) with runners in scoring position, the highest such average in the majors for anyone with 100 at-bats in those situations. This season, Craig has slumped to .389 (seven hits in 18 at-bats) in those situations.
Lincecum beats the Padres
From Elias: Tim Lincecum pitched 6 2/3 innings and earned the win in the Giants' 2-0 win over the Padres. The Giants' right-hander is now 11-5 lifetime with a 2.33 ERA and a .205 opponents' batting average against his San Diego cousins; that equals the most wins he has against any opponent (he's 11-7 vs. Colorado), and the ERA and opponents' average are the lowest against any of the seven teams that he has faced at least 10 times.
Ovechkin ties record for April goals
From Elias: Alex Ovechkin tied an NHL record when he scored the second of his two goals on Saturday night in the Capitals' 5-1 win at Montreal. Ovechkin has racked up 12 goals in 10 games this month, matching the league mark for April goals in one season set by Mario Lemieux in 1993 (in only seven games) and equaled by Winnipeg's Alex Zhamnov in 1995 (14 games in what was, like this year, part of a lockout-delayed season).
Seabrook scores two on the power play
From Elias: Defenseman Brent Seabrook scored both goals for the Blackhawks in their shootout loss to the Coyotes, and both goals came on Chicago power plays. Until Saturday, an entire generation of Blackhawks fans had never seen a Chicago defenseman score two power play goals in one game, since the last to do it was Chris Chelios against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 6, 1993. The only other NHL defensemen to score two power play goals in one game this season are Florida's Brian Campbell (on opening night, January 19) and Montreal's Andrei Markov (January 22).
Reimer stops 49 shots in the win Leafs fans have been anticipating for 8 years
From Elias: James Reimer stopped 49 of the Senators' 50 shots on goal as he led the Maple Leafs to a 4-1 win at Ottawa that clinched Toronto's first playoff berth since 2004. Over the last 20 seasons, the only other Maple Leafs goaltender to win a game in which he faced at least 50 shots on goal was Ed Belfour, who did so twice: Jan. 4, 2003 vs. New Jersey (51 shots, won 2-1) and Oct. 24, 2005 (53 shots, won 5-4 via a shootout). Reimer's 49 saves on Saturday night were the most by a winning goaltender in an NHL game this season. Henrik Lundqvist had the previous high, with 48 stops in his 4-1 win at Carolina on April 6.
Simmonds is 4th Flyers player with a hat trick this season
From Elias: Wayne Simmonds registered the first hat trick of his NHL career when he scored three goals for the Flyers in their 5-3 win over the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Simmonds, who had scored only two goals in his last 20 games entering play on Saturday, is the fourth different Flyers player to get a hat trick this season, the highest total for any team in the league (the others are Matt Read, Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell). The only other NHL team with more than two different tricksters this season is Anaheim (Nick Bonino, Kyle Palmieri and Andrew Cogliano).
Nabokov ties Smith's Islanders record
From Elias: Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov recorded his league-leading 14th road win of the season with a 5-4 shootout victory at Winnipeg on Saturday. No other goaltender has more than 11 road wins in this lockout-shortened season, and even in this short season, Nabokov has tied the Islanders record for most road wins by a goaltender in one season, a mark set by Hall-of-Famer Billy Smith with a 14-4-4 mark in 22 games in 1976-77. Nabokov is 14-3-2 in 19 road games this season, though five of his wins have come in overtime (three) or shootouts (two). Smith set the team record in an era with no overtime in regular-season games and no shootouts.
Elias keeps Devils alive by ending 2-goal-game drought
From Elias: Patrik Elias scored two goals for the Devils as they kept their faint playoff hopes alive by rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Panthers, 6-2, in Newark. It was the 51st time that Elias has scored at least two goals in an NHL game, but the first since Dec. 17, 2011, when he scored twice at Montreal. The total of 92 regular-season games that Elias played between that game and the one on Saturday represents the second-longest multi-goal-game drought of his career. He went 105 games between multiple-goal games in November 2001 and January 2003.
Another 3-point game for Jokinen
From Elias: Jussi Jokinen scored the Penguins' first goal and assisted on their last two as Pittsburgh clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win over the Bruins. It was Jokinen's second three-point performance in six games with the Penguins since they acquired him from Carolina right before the trading deadline (he had two goals and an assist against Tampa Bay on April 11). Jokinen has registered eight points for Pittsburgh with four goals and four assists, matching exactly the totals he posted over his final 20 games as a member of the Hurricanes.