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Nightly Grades 1.24.13: Pierce lets it slip away

By Zach Harper | NBA writer
J.R. Smith and Paul Pierce have different emotions. (Getty Images)

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management, the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad and the ugly from the night that was.

DeMar DeRozanYou already saw the game-winner from earlier, but this really was a good enough shot after a good enough game to get him high marks. Twenty-two points on 10-of-17 with the buzzer-beater is probably the best performance of the night because his team got the win to go with it.
Rajon RondoI was ready to give Rajon Rondo a "B" because his team ended up getting the loss, but I can't punish him for some Paul Pierce fumbles. Rondo had his usual national TV game triple-double with 23 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. He also scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. This loss is definitely not on him.
Goran Dragic In what was supposed to be an easy run for the Clippers, Dragic led his Suns team to the surprise victory on national TV. His 24 points, eight assists, and five rebounds led the way for Phoenix in its second game with new coach Lindsey Hunter. Dragic got to the free throw line 14 times and made 11 of them.
J.R. SmithJ.R. Smith gets a "C" out of a lot of kindness here. He was horrendous for most of the game. He had nine points on 3-of-16 shooting and zero assists in 35 minutes of play. With 1:10 left in the game and the Knicks up two, Smith hit the 3-pointer that gave the Knicks an insurmountable lead the rest of the game. He followed that by forcing a Paul Pierce turnover with seven seconds left. Big finish for Earl.
Paul PiercePaul Pierce usually sticks daggers into the New York Knicks and their fans when they most expect it. He gets to the elbow, puts up a shot and celebrates victory. However, he lost the ball out of bounds with seven seconds left and never allowed himself a chance to win the game. It ruined what should have been a great game from him.
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