Friday, April 27, 2007
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• The Heat's 104-96 home loss to the Bulls left Chicago with a commanding three-zip lead in the best-of-seven series. And it left Miami in a situation never before faced by a defending NBA champion: the Heat is the first team to lose its first three playoff games the year after winning the NBA title.
• Pat Riley's all-time NBA playoff coaching record breaks down this way: He's 157-87 (.643) in playoff games against all teams except the Bulls, but he's just 14-23 (.378) in 37 games against the Bulls. That's the most playoff games lost to one team by any head coach in NBA history.
• Miami's loss had its roots exactly 15 feet from the backboard: the Heat made only 16 of 35 free-throw attempts in its eight-point loss. Shaq? Sure. The big guy made only three of 12 shots from the foul line. But Dwyane Wade wasn't much better, connecting on just four of 10 one-point tries.
It was the first playoff game in NBA history in which two teammates each had at least 10 free-throw attempts and neither made more than 40 percent of them.
• Jason Kidd's physical condition -- a bruised knee forced him to miss practice Thursday -- was all the talk for two days leading up to Game 3 of the Nets-Raptors series. Then the game started, and talent trumped talk.
Kidd had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 19 assists in New Jersey's 102-89 victory, as he became just the third player in NBA history to post a triple-15 in a playoff game. In 1967, Wilt Chamberlain had 16 points, 30 rebounds and 19 assists as his 76ers (en route to the NBA title) defeated the Cincinnati Royals; and in 1985, Fat Lever had 19 points, 16 rebounds and 18 assists for the Nuggets in a victory over the Jazz.
The Nets have played 69 playoff games in the six seasons that Jason Kidd has been a member of the team. In the team's 25 seasons in the NBA prior to Kidd's arrival, New Jersey played only 39 playoff games.
• The Warriors defeated the Mavericks 109-91 in the first playoff game that Golden State has hosted since May 4, 1994, when the Suns completed a three-game sweep of the Warriors with a 140-133 victory. (In that game, Charles Barkley scored 56 points, his all-time playoff high, for Phoenix. Avery Johnson, now the Dallas coach, scored 10 points with eight assists off the bench for the Warriors.)
That was the longest span between consecutive home playoff games by one team in the same city in NBA history. The only longer gap between home playoff games was 16 years by the Clippers (1976-92), but that spanned their moves from Buffalo to San Diego to Los Angeles.
• On Wednesday, the Yankees postponed their home game against the Blue Jays, with the result that Wednesday's scheduled starter, Andy Pettitte, would be held back to oppose Daisuke Matsuzaka on Friday in the opener of a three-game series in the Bronx.
But not even Pettitte -- the Yankees' best starter this season and possessor of a 64-27 record for the Yankees when starting immediately following a loss -- could stop his team's slide. Boston's 11-4 victory spelled a seventh straight loss for the Yankees, matching their longest losing streak in Joe Torre's 12 seasons at the helm. (The Yanks dropped seven straight games in the closing days of the 2000 season before recovering to win a third straight World Series -- the last one that they have won.)
And for the eighth straight game, Yankees pitchers allowed six-or-more runs. It's the first time since 1933 that the Yankees have permitted six or more runs in each of eight consecutive games. That Ruth-and-Gehrig 1933 team had a pitching staff that included three future Hall-of-Famers: Lefty Gomez, Herb Pennock and Red Ruffing.
• The White Sox bested the visiting Angels 7-3 to give Chicagoland fans, at least temporarily, all-time bragging rights over the SoCal crew. The teams have now met 643 times in the all-time series between the teams dating to the Angels' first season (1961); with Friday's win, the Sox have now won 322 games to the Angels' 321, with one game ending in a tie.
But there are actually two teams that stand "even-steven" after having faced each other even more frequently than the Angels and White Sox have. And remarkably, those teams are the regional rivals of the Angels and the Sox. The Dodgers and the Cubs have met 2,024 times since 1890, with each team winning 1,005 games and 14 ties.
• James Shields scattered four hits over eight innings in the Devil Rays' 4-1 win in Oakland, and he held the Athletics' left-handed batters hitless in 11 at-bats. It was the second straight start in which Shields has held southpaw swingers without a hit; Cleveland's lefties went 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts Sunday.
• Jason Marquis led the Cubs to a 5-3 win over the Cardinals -- the second time within seven days that Marquis has beaten his former team. He became the first pitcher in major league history to beat the defending world champions twice in April after having pitched for the champs the previous season.
• Jeff Cowan put the puck past Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the second overtime period to give the Canucks a 2-1 victory over the Ducks, evening the series at a game apiece. That was Giguere's first loss in overtime in nine playoff games, ending the longest start-of-career overtime winning streak by any goaltender in NHL playoff history.
• The Sabres trailed the Rangers 2-1 entering the third period, but Chris Drury scored before a half-minute went by and Thomas Vanek scored the game-winner midway through the period. Buffalo overcame the odds to earn its victory: Entering play Friday, NHL teams were 2-32 during the 2007 playoffs in games in which they trailed entering the third period.
• EDS Byron Nelson Championship leader Luke Donald has recorded only one bogey through the first two rounds of the tournament. For Donald, it's the fewest holes over par in the first two rounds of any of the 136 PGA Tour events in which he has played. Donald's previous low had been three, recorded most recently at the 2005 Nissan Open.
• Will the Dolphins consider trading up to draft Brady Quinn? Miami is one of two teams that haven't drafted a quarterback since 2001, when the Dolphins spent a sixth-round pick on Josh Heupel (Oklahoma). The other team is the Cowboys, who haven't selected a QB since choosing Quincy Carter (Georgia) in the second round in 2001.
One streak not expected to end on Saturday is the Rams' span of 43 years since they last chose a QB in the first round, dating back to their selection of Bill Munson (Utah State) in 1964.