Saturday, March 24, 2007
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Four NHL games were decided in shootouts Saturday, and the visiting team won each game. That begs the question: When a game is decided in a shootout, is there a home-ice advantage?
The statistics say no. With Saturday's four shootouts going to the visitors, road teams have now moved into the lead -- 149 wins to 148 -- in the 297 games decided in that manner since the NHL adopted the procedure prior to last season.
• Coyotes fans may have been counting their chickens when their team took the ice for the third period Saturday night leading the powerful Stars 3-0.
After all, it had been more than 10 years since the Stars -- good as they have been -- had won a game in which they trailed by three or more goals entering the third period. And it had also been more than 10 years since the Coyotes -- bad as they have been -- had last held a lead of three or more goals entering the third period, only to see its opponent leave the arena with two points.
But that's exactly what happened, as Dallas scored three times in the third and won in a shootout. Oh, yes, the last time that Dallas won such a game came in Phoenix on Feb. 8, 1997, when Dallas overcame a 4-1 Phoenix lead to take a 5-4 decision in overtime. That was also the last time that the Coyotes' opponents skated away from such a game with two points.
• The Rangers won at Boston 2-1 in a Saturday afternoon shootout; meanwhile, the Islanders won at Philadelphia 4-3; and in the evening, the Devils defeated the Panthers 4-3 in Miami.
It's not that often that the New York areas three NHL teams all play on the road on the same day; in fact, this was just the 70th time that it has happened in the 25 years since the Devils became the third-team-in back in 1982. And Saturday marked only the fourth time -- and the first since Feb. 2, 1998 -- that all three teams had won on the road on the same day!
And yes, it's the first time that all three teams had been credited, on the same day, with road wins decided by a one-goal margin.
• The Rangers' shootout victory in Boston was their eighth consecutive win over the Bruins (New York was 4-0 last season and is now 4-0 this season). It's the longest winning streak by either team in the history of a rivalry that began in 1926.
Boston has won seven straight against the Rangers four times; the last such streak ended in 1975.
• Dany Heatley's two goals led the Senators to a 7-2 victory over the Lightning in Tampa, his 44th and 45th goals of the season. Heatley moved past the idle Teemu Selanne (44 goals) and into second place on the NHL leaderboard, behind Vincent Lecavalier (49).
Heatley scored 50 goals last season, and is the first NHL player to score 45 goals in each of two consecutive seasons since Pavel Bure scored 58 and 59 for the Panthers in the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, respectively.
• The best way to cut the Red Wings down to size? Get them into a shootout. The Blues did just that at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday and came away with a victory Jason Bacashihua stopped all three Detroit shooters and made Doug Weight's shootout goal stand up.
Detroit is 40-19 this season in games decided in regulation time, but has won only three of eight games decided in the five-minute overtime period and has won only two of eight that have gone to a shootout.
• The Penguins nipped Atlanta 2-1, even though Sidney Crosby failed to score a point for the third consecutive game. It's only the second time that Crosby has gone three straight games without a point in his two seasons in the NHL. Crosby had one three-game drought as a rookie last season (Nov. 27 through Dec. 1).
• So who was the player of the game for the Nets in their 113-107 overtime win in Charlotte? Vince Carter (40 points, including a game-tying put-back dunk of Jason Kidd's airball as the fourth-quarter expired)? Kidd (15 assists and a key three-pointer in overtime)? Richard Jefferson (10-for-10 from the line, including four in the final minute of regulation time)?
Sorry, guys, but we'll go with rookie Josh Boone, who went 10-for-10 from the floor en route to 21 points -- a full 10 points better than his previous NBA high. And who do you think was the last NBA rookie to have at least 10 field-goal attempts in a game and make them all? None other than the pre-Carmen, pre-championship-rings, pre-nose-ring Dennis Rodman, who went 10-for-10 in his Pistons' 98-95 win over Philadelphia on March 14, 1987 -- 20 years, 10 days ago.
Boone became the second NBA player this season to have at least 10 field-goal attempts in a game and make them all. The other? San Antonio's Fabricio Oberto, of course, who went 11-for-11 in an overtime win over the Suns on Nov. 8.
• Carlos Boozer provided 28 points and 15 rebounds, shooting 13-of-17 from the floor, as the Jazz defeated the Grizzlies 118-108. That lifted Boozer's season statistics to 20.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game while making 56.3 percent of his field-goal attempts.
How many different players in NBA history have ever finished a season with across-the-board numbers at the Boozer level in each of those three categories? Only six! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reached those levels in four seasons; Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal each did it three times; and Artis Gilmore and, ahem, Jeff Ruland each did it once.
• The Heat, playing at home, led the 76ers 39-20 five minutes into the second quarter, but Philadelphia roared back to win 93-85. Miami became the first NBA team in exactly two months to lose a game in which it held a lead as large as 19 points -- since the Heat lost a 20-point lead and the game in Indianapolis on Jan. 24.
• Take a look at Corey Maggette's line in the Clippers' 111-105 win over the Wizards: He scored 29 points in a game in which he was credited with only nine field-goal attempts -- none of them a 3-point attempt! Seven-of-nine shooting from the floor and connecting on 15 of 17 foul shots will do that for you; we checked the math ... it proves out.
You have to go back more than 25 years to find the last player who scored that many points in an NBA game in which he didn't make any three-pointers and finished with fewer than 10 field-goal attempts. That player was Bill Cartwright; playing for the Knicks on Nov. 17, 1981, Mister Bill scored 31 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor and a 19-of-19 performance from the line.
• UCLA is the eighth team to reach the Final Four of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament after having lost the national championship game the previous year. Six of the seven previous teams to do that made a repeat appearance in the title game.
• UCLA's 68-55 victory over Kansas not only denied the Jayhawks a trip to the Final Four, but it ended a streak of 54 consecutive tourney games in which Kansas had scored more than 55 points.
There have been only two longer streaks in the history of the tournament: Duke (87 games from 1980 to 2006) and North Carolina (60 from 1989 to date). St. John's also has a current streak of 54 games (since 1951).
But UCLA has now held its opponent to 55 or fewer points in each of its four games in this year's tournament. The Bruins are the first team to hold four successive opponents in the same tournament to 55 or fewer points since Villanova held its first five opponents in the 1985 tourney to that level -- before it defeated Georgetown 66-64 in the national championship game.
• Ohio State's 92-76 victory over Memphis and its trip to the Final Four was forged at the foul line. (The teams each made 26 field goals, and the Tigers hit on 10 three-point field goals to five by the Buckeyes.)
But Ohio State converted 85.4 percent of its free-throw attempts -- 35 of 41 -- the best success rate by a team that had at least 40 free-throw attempts in a men's Division I tournament game since Xavier hit 86 percent (37 of 43) in a first-round victory over Kansas State in 1990.
• Even in defeat, Jeremy Hunt of Memphis had a game to remember, scoring 26 points off the bench. You have to go back to 1989 to find the last substitute to score that many points in a game this late in the NCAA Division I men's tournament; in an Elite Eight game in 1989, Michigan's Sean Huggins came off the bench to score 31 points in a 102-65 win over Virginia.