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Nightly Grades: It'd be easier to grade teams that didn't play

By Zach Harper | 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.

TeamGradeAnalysis
B+On a night in which Paul George couldn't buy a shot (2-of-12 from the field), the Indiana Pacers ralled around him and carried their star. Lance Stephenson was huge with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists. And there was apparently a point in which Roy Hibbert was on fire.
BGoing into Indiana and managing to keep it close throughout the entire game is hard enough for the best teams in the league to do. The Charlotte Bobcats just couldn't get enough perimeter support around Al Jefferson. That's what the Pacers are so good at taking away. It's a nice building block and a feather in the cap.
A-Kyrie Irving can't do it all on his own for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even a 31-point effort that dazzled spectators needs help and he primarily got that from Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao off the bench. Waiters had 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting and Varejao was huge with 14 rebounds and a stellar impact. Only their second road win of the season.
BNot a great home game for the Orlando Magic to drop, especially when they got a superb effort from Victor Oladipo and they were in control of the game early on. Oladipo filled the stat sheet with 26 points, five rebounds, four assists, four steals, and three blocks. Only 12 points combined for Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis is not acceptable though.
B-Toronto Raptors received 51 points from the tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross as they managed to screw up the whole tanking thing. Not sure you can give up losses to a competing tank squad like the 76ers and feel like you've executed Masai Ujiri's plan.
B+This is exactly how you execute Sam Hinkie's plan. The Philadelphia 76ers were ultra competitive, had great efforts from Tony Wroten and Evan Turner, and managed to walk away with the loss. This is what tanking is all about. Be competitive and interesting but get those ping pong balls.
B-It took 53 minutes to manage 101 points for the Atlanta Hawks. They didn't get out and run (7 fast break points) and the bench gave them next to nothing (why is Shelvin Mack taking nine shots in a game?). Al Horford was a monster with 34 points (and the game-winner) and Paul Millsap's 16-11-4 effort was huge.
C+Trevor Booker was the Washington Wizards' best player and John Wall needed 22 shots to get 13 points. They couldn't even get running with just 10 fast break points in an overtime game. It wasn't the worst game ever but we shouldn't speak of it ever again.
C+Jordan Crawford didn't hit any of his eight field goal attempts but it didn't matter because Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger managed to carry the Boston Celtics to the victory. This is where the Knicks are in the season.
DI don't know how to write a synposis of their effort and execution without being incredibly mean and Knicks fans have gone through enough this season. So I'll just be generous with a "D" and decline to comment further.
A-The Andre Drummond-Greg Monroe tandem was lethal tonight. Both players scored 22 points and they combined for 24 rebounds. Monroe and Drummond complemented each other beautifully and Drummond even hit six of his eight free throws. Great home effort from a Detroit Pistons team that is dangerously close to being a .500 squad.
BThe Brooklyn Nets are getting healthier (save for Brook Lopez) and that means they're no longer the joke on the court we saw over the past month. From there, it's about building continuity and figuring how how to play together in a successful way. Sure, they lost this road game but this was a legitimate building block for them. They just can't take a step back next game.
B+No Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans are still above .500 thanks to wins like this. Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon dominated by combining for 45 points. Holiday also chipped in 12 assists on the night. The Pelicans only turned the ball over six times against the Grizzlies. That's impressive.
B-That brutal third quarter for the Memphis Grizzlies is what did them in. They managed just 11 points in the quarter and hit only two of their four shots in the restricted area. It's hard to go through quarters like that and win games. Not impossible but it makes it really hard, especially on the road.
A+It was nice of the Oklahoma City Thunder to welcome Kobe Bryant back to the NBA. This bench has become insanely good and something that no longer feels like a problem for them.
D-Kobe Bryant had to play point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, and it resulted in 13 assists, seven turnovers, and just four points for Bryant. They gave up 31 points off of 19 turnovers.
AThe San Antonio Spurs just pick-and-roll'd the Minnesota Timberwolves to death in the fourth quarter and managed to get Tony Parker into the lane whenever he wanted. If that Manu Ginobili shows up in the playoffs, his new contract will be a steal.
B+The Wolves hung around in San Antonio for much of the game and just fell apart down the stretch on both ends. On offense, they went away from Kevin Love too much, despite him scoring 42 points. On defense, they couldn't keep the Spurs away from the rim with basic breakdowns. Learning experience they have to correct.
C+Mike Dunleavy knocked down a big 3-pointer with five seconds left to give the Chicago Bulls the win and help them avoid a bad loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It helped cap off a monster effort by Joakim Noah, who finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks. That is a stat line.
C-At this point, you're just hoping John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo get productive minutes in which they're learning the tricks of the trade. Nice effort for the Bucks as they challenged the Bulls, but you should feel sorry for those that have to go over the video of this game.
AGordon Hayward was filfthy in the way he led the Utah Jazz to this road victory. 30 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. He just broke down the Denver Nuggets' defense consistently and the Jazz got a competitive, road win against a solid team.
CTy Lawson didn't hit a shot in six attempts and the team was -30 in the 27 minutes he was on the court. There isn't a lot you can take from individual game plus/minus but that just seems disheartening.
A-57 points on 30 shots from the duo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. The Phoenix Suns couldn't really keep the Kings off the free throw line or out of the paint when they were scoring, but they still grinding out a fun home victory.
BRudy Gay's first game as a member of the Sacramento Kings resulted in 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Isaiah Thomas' 29 points were big but only 12 assists in a high scoring game isn't the type of effort that will get the road win. They fought hard but needed more.
A-Marching into Oracle Arena and taking a road victory against the Golden State Warriors but that' exactly what the Houston Rockets did. The defensive attack between Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley taking away the long ball from Stephen Curry was brilliant and it helped them control the game.
B+It was one of those rare Warriors games in which the team caught the majority of their points in the paint. 66 points in the paint and they shot just 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. That's not a comfortable plan of attack for the Warriors, as they like to work more outside-in. Sometimes the looks just don't fall.
 
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