Nightly Grades: Big night of hoops for the holiday

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
BThe Charlotte Bobcats took care of the ball (eight turnover in an overtime game), shot incredibly well from downtown (10-of-18), and had 30 assists on 43 made shots. This was a great performance from the team, highlighted by Kemba Walker's 25-point, 10-assists, and nine-rebound effort. But they get just a "B" because it shouldn't take overtime at home against this Milwaukee Bucks team.
B+This really couldn't have worked out better for the Bucks. Brandon Knight had a monster game with 26 points and 14 assists. John Henson (14 points, nine rebounds, six blocks) had a great game off the bench. And a two-point jumper (foot on the line) at the buzzer gave Milwaukee the one-point loss. Good effort from young guys and a competitive loss that helps the lottery odds is a win-win for them.
AThis one was never really in doubt. The Detroit Pistons completely dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers on every level. Josh Smith was impossible for the Cavs to match up with and Brandon Jennings carved them up all night. Pure domination.
FAndrew Bynum was 0-of-11 in this game for zero points. None of the attempts were 3-pointers. And somehow it doesn't feel like he was the worst Cavs player in this game.
C+The New York Knicks played about as well as you can in the first half of this game. They built up a huge lead with a 36-14 second quarter and looked like the team from last season when they were clicking at their finest. Then they nearly gave the lead completely back. Orlando cut it to one in the fourth quarter but the Knicks managed to hold on in a game in which they lost Carmelo Anthony to an ankle injury.
D+Orlando Magic only played six people in the second half as they nearly erased a 24-point halftime deficit. Arron Afflalo had 16 points in the second half alone and they held New York to just 36.8 percent from the field in the final 24 minutes. Just can't allow such a big lead for the opposition.
AI don't know if this "Lance Stephenson should be an All-Star" talk is just hyperbole but he's continuing to be a big driving force in the best team in the East. He had 26 points Monday night as the Indiana Pacers blew the Brooklyn Nets out of the water. That third quarter domination is a staple of the Pacers.
D+Paul Pierce getting ejected for a flagrant foul was about the only fight the Nets seemed to put up Monday. The team missed 20 of their 26 3-point attempts and Joe Johnson, Andray Blatche, and Jason Terry were the only acceptable players on the night for Brooklyn.
AThe Miami Heat's victory over the Atlanta Hawks was easily the game of the night. It was an incredibly well-executed contest that saw a 38-point effort from LeBron James and big contributions from Ray Allen and Chris Andersen. Two big free throws by Michael Beasley won the game for the Heat too.
A-Hawks have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about from this game. They made 17 of their 34 3-point shots and received praise for their execution after the game from LeBron James. The trio of Paul Millsap, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague showed this team is in good hands. The Hawks are the third best team in the East and hung with the NBA champs.
B+The third quarter and Dirk Nowitzki were the big difference in this game for the Dallas Mavericks. A huge 36-21 advantage in the third gave the Mavericks the cushion they needed to secure a nice road victory for them. Mavs shot the ball extremely well with a 50.6/50.0/87.0 split for percentages.
B-No James Harden, no Patrick Beverley, and no Omer Asik. That's probably the difference between the Houston Rockets being able to grind out this victory and falling short of their goal. Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin were great but the team was too sloppy with the ball.
B+Zach Randolph was the catalyst for the Memphis Grizzlies with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. However, the big key for the Grizzlies grinding out this victory was the play of the bench. 51 points from the reserve players, led by 17 points from Jerryd Bayless. Grizzlies need a full team effort until Marc Gasol is back.
C+The Utah Jazz didn't really have a bad game in any respect, they just didn't have enough firepower and defense to keep up with a hot Memphis bench. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors had nice games but Enes Kanter was basically a no-show again for them.
A-The Tim Duncan crossover video above is an accurate representation of how this game went for both the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors. Tony Parker led the way with 26 points.
CKyle Lowry and Terrence Ross each dropped 23 points, but the Raptors giving up 34 points in the fourth quarter was probably not the way to steal a road victory against the Spurs.
B-Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson didn't give the Golden State Warriors much of the outside attack that tore down the Denver Nuggets in the 2012 playoffs. But David Lee managed to provide the scoring load to eek out the road win.
C+The Nuggets without Kenneth Faried seem to lack a certain energy. They certainly could have used that against the Warriors in a game in which they couldn't find a spark. Ty Lawson, Timofey Mozgov, and Andre Miller were all solid but there simply wasn't enough support.
A+This was a laugher pretty early in the second half and Gerald Green ended up being the leading scorer in the game with 22 points. The Phoenix Suns annihilated the Los Angeles Lakers on the boards 62-39, and bombed from outside.
DThe biggest positive I can find for the Lakers in this game is they only gave up eight points on their 11 turnovers. So that's something?
B+Tyreke Evans returned to Sacramento to remind the Kings that he was once a big part of their future. He had 25 points, 12 assists, and six assists off the bench for the New Orleans Pelicans, and the defense stymied the Sacramento Kings at the end of the game.
C+The Kings had just one made field goal in the final five-plus minutes, which is not how you close out a game if you're hoping to win. DeMarcus Cousins dominated for much of this game and Isaiah Thomas was great scoring the ball. But Rudy Gay and Jason Thompson combined for just 11 points on 2-of-16 from the field.
 
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