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LeBron, high scorer in each game, leads Heat to sweep
From Elias: The Heat became the first NBA team to advance to the conference semifinals, finishing off a four-game sweep of the Bobcats with a 109-98 victory in Charlotte. It was Miami's ninth consecutive playoff series won, and its 12th victory in 13 playoff series in the Big Three era. Since the 2003 playoffs, when the NBA adopted the best-of-seven format for every playoff round, just one other team has won 12 series within a 13-series span (the Lakers, from 2008 to 2011).
Remarkably, in the four games against Charlotte, Miami was actually out-scored, 191 to 179, during the 91 minutes, 40 seconds for which LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were on the court together. But during the 46 minutes, 44.7 seconds for which LeBron was on the court but Wade and Bosh were on the bench, the Heat out-scored the Bobcats, 108 to 83.
On Monday night, James led all scorers for the fourth game in a row: he led all scorers with 27 points in Game One, 32 in Game Two, 30 in Game Three and 31 in Game Four. It marked the third time in his NBA career that LeBron has been the outright scoring leader in all four games of a best-of-seven playoff series swept by his team; he had previously done that twice in 2009, while with the Cavaliers, in sweeps of the Pistons and the Hawks. So LeBron has done that three times; all other players in NBA history, combined, have done it exactly twice! (Hakeem Olajuwon did it in the 1995 Finals against the Magic, and Dirk Nowitzki did it in a first-round series vs. Memphis in 2006.)
Scott hits 4 threes within 2 minutes to lead Hawks in historic 2nd quarter
From Elias: Mike Scott hit five three-point field goals and scored 17 points in the second quarter, and the Hawks out-scored the Pacers, 41-19, in that quarter, then held on for a 107-97 win in Game Five of their first-round series. It marked just the second time in the history of the NBA playoffs that a visiting team scored at least 40 points in a quarter while holding the home team below 20 points. On March 30, 1970, the Bucks out-scored the 76ers, 40 to 14, in the first quarter of Game Three of the Eastern Division Semifinals at Philadelphia. Milwaukee went on to win, 156-120, led by rookie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known by his birthname, Lew Alcindor), playing in the first road playoff game of his NBA career.
Scott made three-pointers on four straight Hawks possessions early in the second quarter, pulling that off within a span of a minute and 46 seconds. That was the first time that any NBA player has connected for four three-pointers within a two-minute span of a playoff game since Sam Cassell, then with the Timberwolves, hit four shots from beyond the arc in the span of a minute and 29 seconds over the closing stages of a loss to the Kings on May 4, 2004. In all, Atlanta made nine three-point field goals in Monday night's magical second quarter, tying an NBA playoff-game record previously achieved by the Celtics in 2002 and the Magic in 2008.
Spurs' reserves get the job done
From Elias: Manu Ginobili (23), Boris Diaw (17) and Patty Mills (10) scored 50 points coming off the bench, including Diaw's three-point field goal to break a tie late in the fourth quarter, leading the Spurs to a 93-89 victory at Dallas. The Spurs became the first team in this year's playoffs to win a game in which their bench out-scored their starters. But that formula is not unknown to Gregg Popovich's team. This was the fourth time in the last 10 years that the Spurs have won a playoff game in which their bench players out-scored their starters; all other NBA teams have combined for just five such wins over that 10-year period.
Gray: latest youngster to throw shutout
From Elias: Sonny Gray's produced his first major-league complete game, and he did it with a flourish, shutting out the Rangers on three hits as the A's won, 4-0. Gray's shutout was the fifth this season by a pitcher younger than 25 years old. Martin Perez, 23, has thrown two shutouts; 24-year-old Henderson Alvarez has one as does 23-year-old Julio Teheran. That's the highest total of April (and March) shutouts by pitchers not yet 25 years old since 1989, when there were also five, turned in by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bret Saberhagen, John Smiley and Bob Milacki.
Darvish: 29-12 vs. other MLB teams, 1-7 vs. Oakland
From Elias: Yu Darvish took the loss for the Rangers on Monday night. His career won-lost record in MLB is now 30-19; it breaks down as 29-12 against teams other than Oakland but 1-7 against the A's. You have to go back to 1941 to find the last major-league pitcher who won at least 30 of his first 50 decisions but lost at least seven of those 50 decisions to a particular team. That pitcher was Hugh Casey of the Dodgers, who reached 50 decisions (in May of 1941) with a 31-19 record that included seven losses to the Cardinals. (Later that year, Casey would throw the most infamous pitch of his major-league career - a would-be game-ending strikeout in Game Four of the World Series against the Yankees that was not caught by his catcher, Mickey Owen. The Yankees rallied to win that game, and won the Series the next day.)
D'Backs can't get Tulo out
From Elias: Troy Tulowitzki had a home run, two doubles and two walks in five trips to the plate, knocking in three runs to lead the Rockies to a victory over the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, 8-5. It's the third time in Tulowitzki's big-league career that he has come to the plate at least five times in a game and has reached base safely on each trip, with at least three extra-base hits. The only other player in Rockies history to have three such games was Todd Helton.
Parra gets D'Backs' first lefty-on-lefty homer in over a year
From Elias: Gerardo Parra belted a home run off Franklin Morales in the second inning of Monday night's game, becoming the first Diamondbacks left-handed batter to hit a home run against a left-handed pitcher since Miguel Montero connected against the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia on April 2, 2013. In the interim, Arizona left-handed batters had accumulated 644 homerless at-bats against southpaw slants, the longest such streak in the majors since the White Sox went 1089 at-bats without a lefty-on-lefty homer from 1989 to 1991.
Another day, another RBI for Abreu
From Elias: Jose Abreu drove in the final run in the White Sox' 7-3 victory over the Rays; over his last nine games, he now has six home runs and 18 runs batted in. The only other rookies in the last 50 years to reach those totals in homers and RBIs over any nine-game span are Shane Spencer (1998 Yankees) and Brian Daubach (1999 Red Sox).
Brewers, down 3-0, come back to beat Cardinals... again
From Elias: The Cardinals took a 3-0 lead over the Brewers into the seventh inning, but Milwaukee rallied for three runs in the seventh and two in the twelfth to go home the winners. It's the first time that the Cardinals have lost a game in which they had a lead of three-or-more runs since last August 20 - when the Brewers overcame a three-run deficit to earn a 6-3 triumph in Milwaukee.
Kings, once down 0-3 in series, force Game Seven
From Elias: The Kings forced Game Seven by earning their third straight victory over the Sharks, marking just the ninth time in NHL history that a team had lost the first three games of a playoff series and then won the next three. The Sharks know all about that: they were also the last NHL team that was forced to a Game Seven in a series in which they had won the first three games. That happened three years ago against the Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals; in that case, San Jose, playing at home, won Game Seven, 3-2.
Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar each scored two goals for the Kings as they staved off elimination for the third consecutive game in their series against the Sharks with a 4-1 victory in Game Six. Williams also scored two goals when the Kings earned their first win of the series in Game Four. Over the last 20 years, the only other Kings player to generate two multiple-goal games in one playoff series was Zigmund Palffy, in L.A.'s first-round matchup against Colorado in 2002.
Malkin's hat trick closes out Blue Jackets
From Elias: Evgeni Malkin recorded the first hat trick of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs (and the second playoff hat trick of his NHL career), contributing three goals to the Penguins' series-clinching 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets. It's the third consecutive year in which a Penguins player has registered a playoff hat trick; Jordan Staal had one in 2012, and Sidney Crosby and James Neal both scored three goals in a playoff game for Pittsburgh in 2013. The Penguins are the first NHL franchise to have players produce hat tricks in each of three consecutive playoff years since the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche did so in 1995 (Joe Sakic), 1996 (Sakic and Peter Forsberg) and 1997 (Valeri Kamensky).
Parise writes his name into Wild record book
From Elias: Zach Parise set a personal high and a Minnesota franchise record for points in a playoff game when he scored two goals and assisted on two more as the Wild tied its series against the Avalanche with a 5-2 win in Game Six. Parise is the first NHL player to tally four points in a playoff game in which his team faced elimination since Duncan Keith produced two goals and two assists in the Blackhawks' 5-0 win in Game Five of a first-round series against the Canucks in 2011.