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Nightly Grades: Rolling Raptors dismantle the Pacers

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.

AIn the last 11 days, the Raptors have wins against the best team in the West (the Thunder) and the best team in the East (the Pacers). They took down Indiana tonight 95-82 to improve to 15-15 behind 26 from DeMar DeRozan and 14 assists from Kyle Lowry. Are they actually this good? Are they potentially a pest in the Eastern Conference playoff picture? Or are they just a little hot? Hard to tell right now, but the Raptors are definitely playing well, and they're playing hard. That's eight out 10 with some quality road wins and a couple against the elites.
AThe Timberwolves badly needed this win, and they exploded offensively to get it. The Pelicans made things look a lot more respectable with a quality fourth quarter, but the Wolves dropped 124 pretty effortlessly. Ricky Rubio flirted with a triple-double and Minny didn't score fewer than 27 in a quarter.
BWhen the 76ers win, it feels like a big deal. And for them to go on the road in Denver and take down a struggling Nuggets squad rather clinically, well, it's an automatic A.
BThe Mavericks just keep on keepin' on. On the road against the Wizards, Dallas got 23 from Monta Ellis and used a 28-17 fourth quarter to storm back on the Wizards, moving to 19-13 on the year.
FEight straight losses for the Nuggets, the latest coming tonight at home to the 76ers. Oof. So much oof.
FLosing to the Raptors isn't as awful as previously thought to be, but the Pacers just looked bad in this one, particularly in the fourth quarter. They couldn't make anything in the fourth quarter, executed poorly and didn't manage the game well. In the second half, they were outscored 55-38. That's not good.
FThey just can't do it. They can't get above .500, somewhere they haven't been since Oct. 31, 2009. Tonight, they had a shot against the Mavs but fell flat in the fourth quarter. They just aren't quite there yet. They're getting closer and should break over the hump sometime soon. But these kinds of losses remain humbling and a reminder that they've got a ways to go.
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