Nightly Grades: Lakers find a way in Portland

By Royce Young | NBA writer

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.

A+So, disclaimer, they beat a Blazers team starting four rookies. But in a game they HAD TO HAVE, the Lakers swept their first back-to-back of the season. And they did it behind one of the most incredible individual performances of the season. Kobe Bryant, playing all 48 minutes, finished with 47 points on 14-27 shooting, with eight rebounds and five assists. The Lakers stay a half game ahead of the Jazz and won a game that, while a struggle, is maybe the biggest of the season.
ANo LeBron. No Wade. No Bosh. No Haslem. No problem against the Wizards. Keep in mind, the Wizards were riding a nine-game home winning streak and the Heat took them down 103-98 led by 23 from Ray Allen.
B+An improbable four-point play sent the game into overtime against the Bucks, and the Magic outscored them 18-8 in the extra frame. Tobias Harris had 30 points, 19 rebounds and five assists, Nikola Vucevic had 30 points and 20 rebounds, and Doron Lamb had 16 points off the bench. It's the type of growing-up game this young Magic team needs more of. Impressive stuff from them.
BThis grade is really just for Damian Lillard. The Blazers were extremely shorthanded playing without J.J. Hickson, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, but took the Lakers to the wire, largely because of an outstanding effort from Lillard. A career-high 38 points and nine assists. If only he wasn't playing with Victor Claver, Sasha Pavlovic and Luke Babbitt.
CIf they're aiming to avoid the Lakers in the first round, like some think they are, then mission accomplished. Playing without Tony Parker, the Spurs became the 21st straight team to lose in Denver and fell out of the top spot in the West.
DOutside of John Henson, who had 17 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks (!!!), the Bucks were pretty much a disaster. Fouling to give up a four-point play that forced overtime and then getting outscored 18-8 in the extra frame is kind of terrible. Monta Ellis went just 7-27, and J.J. Redick was only 6-16. Lucky for the Bucks, they're basically locked into their No. 8 seed, but they sure didn't make anyone feel better about their chances with this loss.
FThe Mavericks' postseason hopes were sunk a couple weeks ago, but they still have a reason to play. Getting to .500 means they get to shave and, with an opportunity to do so, at home, against the Suns, the Mavs laid a big egg. The loss drops them to 38-40, meaning if Dirk wants that beard off, the Mavs need to go at least 3-1 to finish out.
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