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Nightly Grades: Durant strikes again, Nets get charitable

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.

AThe Phoenix Suns were "supposed" to be a tanking team looking toward the future. After dropping 124 points on the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night, they've now surpassed last season's 25 wins. Gerald Green had a ridiculously efficient 30 points on 10-of-12 shooting and Goran Dragic had 24 points. They used a great first quarter to take control of the game early and never gave it up.
B-The Sixers like to get you into a chaotic, fast-paced game but they don't do it as well as the Suns do it. Philly had 21 turnovers and couldn't do enough to make up for a bad first quarter. They scored inside, they made 3-point shots, they were successful from the free throw line. They just couldn't get anywhere close to enough stops.
B+The Toronto Raptors were down one point and didn't have the ball with 12 seconds left. They ended up winning the game, thanks to the Brooklyn Nets hilariously falling apart. Patrick Patterson made big plays down the stretch to steal this victory and keep control of the Atlantic Division. Kyle Lowry led the way with 31 points and Jonas Valanciunas dominated with 20 points and 13 boards.
FThe Nets will be able to look back at a lot of terrible things from early in this season if they don't manage to win the division, but this one will probably sting the most. They wasted a great effort by Andray Blatche off the bench and a big comeback from Paul Pierce to win this game. Except they threw away the win.
BThe Minnesota Timberwolves had Nikola Pekovic drop out of the game early in the first quarter with an Achilles' strain. But they were still facing a decimated Chicago Bulls team and were able to grind out a victory. Kevin Love had 30 points against the Bulls' frontline and the Wolves finished off a 3-1 road trip they really needed.
C+Joakim Noah was a late scratch for the Chicago Bulls and they simply didn't have enough on offense to make enough runs in this game. Carlos Boozer needed 24 shots to get 20 points, D.J. Augustin had a great shooting night, and Jimmy Butler only took 12 shots when he had matchup advantages all over the place.
AThe Los Angeles Clippers did exactly what they were supposed to do against the Milwaukee Bucks. They let Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford combine for 45 points, which was a healthy chunk of the 86 points they gave up to Milwaukee. 26 fast break points. 14-of-28 from 3-point range. And Darren Collison managed a great game as the point.
DThey only had 11 turnovers in this game and five players made it to double figures in scoring. That's kind of a win for the Bucks, right?
B+Durantula. Slim Reaper. Death. KD. Call Kevin Durant whatever you want to call him, just make sure you call his number in a tight game. Durant had 13 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the victory. He had the last seven points, including the winner.
BPaul Millsap led the way with 23 points and eight rebounds and the Atlanta Hawks received a big contribution with 36 bench points. Without Al Horford and Jeff Teague, they put up a potentially winning effort in OKC. Unfortunately for them, they don't have a Durant.
B+Marvin Williams came alive with 12 points and seven rebounds in the third quarter and the Utah Jazz survived the hack-a-any big man we have strategy by Michael Malone in the fourth quarter to pull out the home victory. Six Jazz players in double figures and the team finished with eight turnovers.
CThe Sacramento Kings didn't have DeMarcus Cousins but they did have good efforts from Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams, and Ben McLemore. The Kings turned a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter into a five-point deficit, but couldn't get closer than that.
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