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Nightly Grades: John Wall and the Wizards are winners

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
AThis was your typical Indiana Pacers' victory. They established plenty of good team play early on with six different players getting at least eight points in the first half of play. Then they clamped down on the Orlando Magic in the second half by giving up just 29 points on 28.2 percent shooting. The Pacers just don't often seem to get sucked into not taking these easier games seriously. Their bench outscored Orlando's 49-19.
C-Arron Afflalo had 18 points for the Magic in the first half then scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting in the second half. Nobody on Orlando seemed capable of giving him the proper support in this game and they succumbed to the typical Pacers' second half suffocation. Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 13 rebounds in a good battle with Roy Hibbert but there weren't any other bright spots.
A-Don't look now but the Washington Wizards are above .500 for the first time since 2009. All it took was a win Saturday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder and following that up with a win at home over the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night. John Wall did a little bit of everything with 22 points (7-of-15 shooting), five rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks. Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Ariza combined for 49 points too.
C+What happens when the Blazers don't make threes? They shot just 5-of-19 from downtown against the Wizards and couldn't find a way to rally from a big deficit without the shot consistently falling. LaMarcus Aldridge (20-10-6) and Damian Lillard (25-6-8) had big games but the Blazers' bench struggled for the third straight game. They had just six points tonight, which makes 23 points total in the past three games.
BShaun Livingston was everywhere for the Brooklyn Nets, tallying 13 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and seven steals to help complement the 20-point efforts from Paul Pierce (25), Deron Williams (21), and Mirza Teletovic (20). They forced 26 turnovers by the Philadelphia 76ers, which led to 32 points.
CMichael Carter-Williams tried to lead a furious comeback for the Sixers with seven points and three assists in the fourth quarter but they couldn't make up enough ground to pull off the comeback. Four different players for Philly had at least four turnovers, which negated the 52.1 percent they shot from the field.
B+We saw a spry Dwyane Wade, an active Chris Bosh, and a destructive LeBron James as the Miami Heat continued their dominance over the Detroit Pistons. They won their 16th game in the previous 20 matchups against Detroit. Wade had 30 points on 13-of-19 from the field and LeBron James had 24 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.
C+The Detroit Pistons wanted to dominate the Miami Heat inside and instead just couldn't get enough going, despite Brandon Jennings' 26 points. Andre Drummond was in early foul trouble and couldn't get going until the second half. And Josh Smith went 5-of-20 from the field as he recorded 12 points, six rebounds, six assists, and six turnovers. The Pistons couldn't take advantage of 20 turnovers by the Heat because they had 21 themselves.
BBrandon Knight hit the go-ahead 3-pointer you see at the top of this post to secure their ninth victory of the season. They beat the New York Knicks 101-98, thanks to big efforts from Knight (25 points), Khris Middleton (19 points, 5-of-6 from three), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (15 points with his parents in attendance).
FCarmelo Anthony had 36 points on 13-of-25 shooting and 5-of-11 from three. J.R. Smith had 30 points on 9-of-17 from the field and 6-of-11 from three. The rest of the Knicks had 32 points on 12-of-36 from the field and 4-of-13 from downtown. Great job, gang.
B+Tony Parker going against the New Orleans Pelicans' pick-and-roll defense doesn't seem fair. That's because it's not. He had 32 points and nine assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs over a scrappy Pelicans team. Tim Duncan chipped in with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six blocks. The Spurs had just seven turnovers in the game.
CThe Pelicans still don't have Ryan Anderson or Jrue Holiday, but they managed to put up a good fight against the Spurs. Anthony Davis had a horrible night shooting the ball with a 6-of-21 performance, but he still ended up with 17 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks. Anthony Morrow had 20 points off the bench and Austin Rivers had 10 points and five assists in 20 minutes.
C+The Oklahoma City Thunder relied on the duo of Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka to win this game and it worked out. Durant had 31 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds while Ibaka supported him with 21 points and 12 rebounds. The Thunder's defense was stellar against the Memphis Grizzlies and they closed out the game by giving up four points (22.2 percent shooting) in the final six minutes.
D+Without Mike Conley playing, the Memphis Grizzlies just didn't have enough to get buckets when they needed them the most. They made just two of their 16 3-pointers, shot under 40 percent from the field, and couldn't capitalize enough on the Thunder's 16 turnovers (13 points).
AYou know that 50-40-90 club we love to praise players like Larry Bird and Kevin Durant for doing in a season? The Dallas Mavericks hit the Cleveland Cavaliers with that performance tonight in a rout. They shot 55.0 percent from the field, 46.2 percent from downtown (26 attempts), and made 24-of-26 (92.3 percent) from the foul line. They just peppered the Cavs with offense all night.
D-Can anybody on this team get a stop when they need one? They couldn't Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. Kyrie Irving (27 and 8) got his numbers and Jarrett Jack finished with nice numbers (12 and 8) in his start. But Dion Waiters didn't show up (zero points on four shots in 11 minutes) and the Cavs didn't play any defense.
BDeMar DeRozan carried the Toronto Raptors and made up for a poor shooting night by Kyle Lowry to grab the road victory. DeRozan had one of his best games with 23 points, four rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers. He was in total control of his game and made up for Lowry's 1-of-8 shooting performance.
D+Marvin Williams led the team with 23 points. Now guess if this team scored over or under 80 points. Awwww, you cheated!
A-Randy Foye's winning 30-footer helped cap off a couple of incredible performances by Ty Lawson's 28 points and Kenneth Faried's 28-point, 11-rebound effort. The Denver Nuggets struggled to hit 3-pointers all night, but Foye delivered on a confusing offensive play to secure the one-point victory.
BBlake Griffin was unreal for the Los Angeles Clippers. 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers. DeAndre Jordan had 12 points in the fourth quarter, including making all four free throw attempts. The Clippers had 60 points in the paint and 29 fast break points. It still wasn't enough because Randy Foye buried them at the buzzer.
B+DeMarcus Cousins played for the first time since sitting out six games with a sprained ankle. He made up for lost time by giving the Sacramento Kings 25 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists in their big win over the Chicago Bulls. The Kings dominated Chicago without even killing them from outside. They made just two of their eight 3-point attempts and one of the makes came from Quincy Acy.
FIt might have been the 12-point first quarter. It also might have been shooting under 30 percent for the game. It might have been allowing the Kings to make over 50 percent of their shots. The reason the Chicago Bulls lost by 29 to the Sacramento Kings is in there somewhere.
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