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Nightly Grades: Heat dominate, Knicks survive, Warriors can't lose

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 Washington Wizards used a big 17-0 run in the third quarter to take control of the game and put the Charlotte Bobcats in the loss column. Bradley Beal had 21 points and the Wizards took care of the ball with just seven turnovers (four points given up off of them). They didn't get to the free throw line much and struggled from beyond the arc (29.4 percent), but they grinded out a good win against a playoff opponent. Yes, the Bobcats are a playoff opponent at 15-21. Thanks, Eastern Conference.
D+Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker had nice games for the Bobcats but nobody else could really get going. Al Jefferson had six points on nine shots, the team missed nine of their 24 free throw attempts, and they only managed 22 points in the paint. Charlotte managed just three offensive rebounds on the entire night.
AThe Cleveland Cavaliers had one job to do for much of the night: see where the Philadelphia 76ers were leaving CJ Miles open and get him the ball. He knocked down eight 3-pointers in the first half (most of them wide-open) and 10 for the game. He finished with 34 points on 18 shot attempts (10-of-14 from three). This was just total domination by the Cavaliers, who put the game away early and won by 18 points. It wasn't that close.
D-The only thing keeping the Sixers from an "F" for this game is Michael Carter-Williams. He finished with 33 points on 13-of-25 from the field to go with six rebounds and five assists. Outside of MCW, the Sixers shot 34.4 percent from the field, including Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner combining for four points on 2-of-20 shooting.
B-The Indiana Pacers won a lot of ugly games last season with great defense and poor offense. This must have been a throwback performance for them in their 86-79 win over the Toronto Raptors. The Pacers managed just 1-of-11 from 3-point range but Roy Hibbert finished with 22 points, eight boards, and three blocks. A +17 advantage on the boards helped control the game as well.
CThe Raptor received great efforts from DeMar DeRozan (28 points on 9-of-22 shooting, six assists, and zero turnovers) and Patrick Patterson (20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench), but the rest of the team really struggled to score the ball. Amir Johnson, Terrence Ross, and Jonas Valanciunas combined to score seven points on 2-of-19 shooting as the team made just 37.0 percent from the field.
AThis win by the Miami Heat over the New Orleans Pelicans was close for a while, but eventually LeBron James decided the game was over. James had 32 points, Dwyane Wade contributed 22-8-8, and Chris Andersen was big off the bench with 15 points on 7-of-7 from the field. They turned 16 Pelicans' turnovers in 21 points and outscored the Pelicans 64-39 in the second half.
C-Anthony Davis was fantastic tonight with 22 points and 12 rebounds to go with three blocked shots. He was a presence in the first half, but eventually the talent disparity played out. You really saw the missing presence of Ryan Anderson in a game like tonight because the Pelicans' offense in the second half had horrible spacing as the Heat made a big run.
DI don't even know what the New York Knicks were doing at the end of this game. They had three straight turnovers in the final minutes of the game that didn't involve a single pass in the halfcourt. They nearly blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, only to hang on for the win thanks to the Detroit Pistons playing equally as incompetently. At least Carmelo Anthony had a good game with 34 points on 13-of-24 from the field.
D-The Pistons dominated the boards (54-38) and yet couldn't find a way to make the Knicks pay consistently. Brandon Jennings shot them out of the game with 2-of-12 from the field and Josh Smith's eight turnovers were pretty special to behold. Smith missed a 17-foot jumper that would have put them ahead with 10 seconds left by leaving it about six feet short. Great game, everybody.
AStephen Curry and Klay Thompson were just 11-of-36 from the field together? Not a problem for the streaking Golden State Warriors. They won their 10th straight game and are 6-0 on this seven-game road trip. David Lee gave the Warriors 22 points and 18 rebounds and the Warriors' defense just shut the Milwaukee Bucks down all night.
D-Ersan Ilyasova had 20 points, Brandon Knight had 18 points, and the rest of the team? Well... have you guys heard of this Andrew Wiggins kid? How about Jabari Parker? Actually, is your little cousin any good at shooting the basketball?
BThe Luol Deng trade means the Chicago Bulls will start working toward a favorable lottery draw in May under Tom Thibodeau, right? Wrong. Bulls stifled a good Phoenix Suns' attack with their patented defense as they kept their opponents out of transition and out of the paint. Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and D.J. Augustin all had nice games for the Bulls.
CWithout Eric Bledsoe causing chaos on both ends of the court, the Phoenix Suns struggled to put together much of an offensive rhythm. They finished with just 12 assists during the game and were held to 26.1 percent from downtown. Goran Dragic had 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting but only two assists.
A-You saw some pretty great execution by both sides at the end of the San Antonio Spurs' two-point overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Manu Ginobili made two huge shots for the Spurs, despite having a horrible shooting night. He made a layup to put the Spurs up two at the end of regulation and then had the winning layup with a little over a second left. Tim Duncan carried the Spurs all night.
B+The Memphis Grizzlies put up a great fight and also did a great job of executing down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime. Mike Conley had the layup to send the game to overtime and finished with 30 points in the game. Memphis bench had 44 points.
A-Remember Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter? They're still very good basketball players when the Dallas Mavericks need them to be. Nowitzki had 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting and Carter had 19 points off the bench to help dissect the Los Angeles Lakers' defense. Mavericks had 32 assists on 48 made baskets.
C+The Lakers were able to make some 3-pointers and get to the free throw line to keep this one from getting completely out of hand, but the Mavericks controlled the majority of this game. Lakers had just eight players available and had to play Ryan Kelly 27 minutes. Jodie Meeks led them with 24 points.
A+Denver Nuggets' scoring by quarter was 31 (first), 37 (second), 35 (third), and 26 (fourth). They hit 14 3-pointers with Randy Foye netting half of them to score 23 points. Kenneth Faried went Manimal on the Boston Celtics with 21 points and 13 rebounds. And the Nuggets just completely dominated this entire game.
FThey did manage to force 21 turnovers and score 25 points off of them. That's pretty much the only nice thing you can say about them in tonight's 31-point loss.
AGordon Hayward went supernova against the Oklahoma City Thunder as the Utah Jazz pulled off the upset. 37 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists against Kevin Durant's 48 points, while he was wearing Durant's signature shoes. Perhaps we were watching the sequel to Thunderstruck?
C+Not sure what more Durant could have done Tuesday night, other than make more 3-pointers (3-of-13). He finished with 48 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals, two blocks, and zero turnovers. Reggie Jackson had 20 points and no other Thunder player registered double figures in points. For some reason, Derek Fisher was on the floor during the fourth quarter, getting torched as the Thunder needed stops.
A-This is probably the type of effort the Sacramento Kings hope to get out of the DeMarcus Cousins-Rudy Gay duo next season when they've shaped the roster a little bit more. Cousins had 35 points and 13 rebounds to go with Gay's 32 points on 16 shots. Isaiah Thomas managed 22 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds too as the Kings held on after a furious finish by the Blazers.
BDamian Lillard tried to bring the Portland Trail Blazers all the way back. He scored 26 points in the fourth quarter to give him 41 on the night, but the team fell short. They couldn't get LaMarcus Aldridge going against Cousins' defense and players not named Lillard shot 3-of-14 from 3-point range.
 
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