Elias Says ... Hester returns to glory

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:


Devin Hester scored on 94- and 96-yard yard kickoff returns on Monday. They were his fourth and fifth touchdowns this season on either a kickoff or a punt return, setting a NFL record. Nine previous players had scored four times on kickoff or punt returns in one season.

Hester also broke the broader record for most "return touchdowns" in a season -- that is touchdowns other than those on running or passing plays. Hester has three punt-return touchdowns, two kickoff-return touchdowns and one field-goal-return touchdown. Ken Houston of the 1971 Oilers held the previous record with five return touchdowns, four on interceptions and one on an opponent's fumble.

• With a win Monday, Rex Grossman is 15-5 as a starter in the NFL. He's only the second quarterback in the last 50 years to win at least 15 of his first 20 starts for the Bears from the start of his NFL career. The only other quarterback to do that over the last half-century was Mike Tomczak, who was 17-3 in his first 20 starts from 1986 to 1989.

Marc Bulger threw two touchdowns to Torry Holt, their 37th and 38th career scoring connections. That sets a Rams team record. The old record was 37 touchdowns by Roman Gabriel to Jack Snow, the father of recently retired baseball player, J.T. Snow.

• The Suns beat the Magic on Monday, 103-89, extending their winning streak to 11 games. Phoenix has scored at least 100 points in all 10 of their road games this season, the longest season-opening streak for any team since the Warriors scored in triple digits in their first 24 road games of the 1992-93 season.

• Through 20 games this season Dwyane Wade has scored 560 points with 161 assists. The only other players in NBA history to average at least 28 points and 8 assists over the first 20 games of a season are Oscar Robertson, who did it four times, and Nate Archibald (in 1972-73).

• In another game without Allen Iverson, the 76ers dropped their eighth straight to fall to 5-15. It's only the fourth time in franchise history, including their days as the Syracuse Nationals, that the team won no more than five of its first 20 games of a season. They started 1-19 in 1972-73, 3-17 in 1995-96 and 5-15 in 1992-93.

Vince Carter went 9 for 20 from behind the three-point line Monday, making him only the fourth player to hoist as many as 20 threes in a game. Damon Stoudamire had 21 in April 2005, Michael Adams had 20 in April 1991 and George McCloud had 20 in March 1996.

• The Knicks got at least a dozen rebounds from each member of their starting frontcourt -- 13 by David Lee and 12 each from Quentin Richardson and Eddy Curry. It was the first time the Knicks had their starting frontcourt each grab a dozen rebounds since March 19, 1978, when Bob McAdoo, Jim McMillian and Lonnie Shelton did it. The Knicks also lost that game, 125-118 in Philadelphia.

• The Bulls made 15 of 18 first-quarter field goals, en route to scoring 42 first-quarter points and defeating the Pacers, 106-91. That was the second-highest field goal percentage by a team in one quarter this season -- the Suns made 16 of 19 against the Nets on Nov. 24. The Bulls' 42 first-quarter points were their most in the opening period since they had 42 in Charlotte in 1996.

• The Spurs have beaten the Clippers by at least 20 points twice in the last four days, 111-82 on Friday and 103-81 Monday. The last time that a team beat another by at least 20 points twice in a four-day span was when the Knicks beat the Heat twice in four days in Dec. 2003.

• The Capitals lost a shootout to the Penguins after having a 4-0 lead earlier in the game. It was only the third time in franchise history that Washington did not win a game after having a four-goal lead. The previous times were against the Islanders in 1983 and Rangers in 1991.

Evgeni Malkin scored his 15th goal in his 25th career game on Monday. He's one of five active players to score as many as 15 goals in their first 25 games, along with Eric Lindros (19 goals in first 25 games), Teemu Selanne (18), Joe Sakic (16) and Alex Ovechkin (15).

Joe Thornton had three assists for the second consecutive game and the sixth time this season in the Sharks' 4-0 win over the Coyotes on Monday. The only NHL players with even half as many three-assist games as Thornton this year are Slava Kozlov (4) and Sidney Crosby (3).

Jose Mesa signed with the Tigers as a free agent Monday to shore up their bullpen, um, fielding. Tigers fans will be happy to know that Mesa has made only one throwing error in 100 total chances over 476 games in the last seven seasons.