Nightly Grades: The Lakers don't need a bench, just the Cavs

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
A-The Los Angeles Lakers basically had six guys the entire night after two players got injured. Then they technically had four players after two of the remaining six fouled out. They still ended up winning this game by double digits. Steve Blake had a triple-double (11 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds) and Farmar was on fire when he was healthy. They hit 18 threes and had just 15 turnovers.
FThe Cleveland Cavaliers were embarrassed by the Lakers' second and third unit. They played much of the game against six total players. Two of them fouled out. Ryan Kelly scored 26 points. This is what the bottom looks like.
B+Jeff Green was absurd for the Boston Celtics and they controlled this victory over the Philadelphia 76ers for pretty much the entire 48 minutes. He had 36 points on 18 shots and received great support from Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, and some guy named Rajon Rondo (eight points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds).
CHard to feel bad about the effort from the Philadelphia 76ers in this one. They didn't defend the three well at all and they ended up getting beaten at the free throw line. However, they had balanced scoring and did a nice job of pushing the pace without being out of control.
AAfter 58 minutes of play, the San Antonio Spurs finally put the Washington Wizards away. Tony Parker only made it through the first half before back soreness kept him out the rest of the way, but Tim Duncan, Danny Green, and Patty Mills picked up the slack. This was simply a matter of which team got tired first and it wasn't the Spurs.
A-It's hard to fault the Washington Wizards in this one. They took the Spurs to two overtimes before finally running out of gas in the second OT. To remain over .500, it would have meant consecutive wins over the Thunder, Blazers, and Spurs. Outside of John Wall's nine assists, the rest of the team just didn't move the ball all that well (10 assists). That's nitpicking though.
B+Victor Oladipo has had 35 points in a game but this might have been the Orlando Magic rookie's best game of his young career. He had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, was in complete control of everything he was doing, and just looked calm with the ball. Orlando handled this entire 48 minutes and used a big second quarter to get the space they needed.
C-Perhaps grasping at straws, Detroit Pistons' coach Maurice Cheeks inserted Kyle Singler into the starting lineup in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The result didn't differ. The Pistons were still controlled by the efforts of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Smith had a good game except he couldn't hit free throws. Jennings made 5-of-23 from the field. Same old, same old.
B+The Portland Trail Blazers did something they haven't had to do much this season: grind out a victory. LaMarcus Aldridge wasn't hitting his shots but he still rebounded and passed the ball. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews made up for Damian Lillard's poor night. And the bench didn't give them much but they gave them enough to pull out the road victory.
B-The New York Knicks were ugly on offense but they managed to play some encouraging defense against a great offensive team. It ended up not being enough for them but at least they put up more of a fight than we're used to seeing this season. Great effort from the Knicks' bench but the team couldn't hit a three.
A-The Houston Rockets received a great game from Dwight Howard (34 and 14) and the team clamped down on the Phoenix Suns in the fourth quarter to pull off the win. They went 11-of-16 from 3-point range, which gave Howard enough room to operate inside. James Harden chipped in with an efficient 23 points on 10 shots.
B-Great effort from the Suns in Houston but they simply didn't have the firepower from downtown to stay in the game. They made just 26.7 percent of their 3-pointers. Goran Dragic was hard to contain but without the perimeter help to support it, the Suns just didn't have enough.
B+The Dallas Mavericks are used to this style of play. They didn't play great defense but they managed to shoot the ball well and out-score their opponents. The rough and tumble style of defense from the Memphis Grizzlies' big men were ineffective against Dirk because he can be anywhere on the floor and get his points.
CFor just the second time this season, the Grizzlies had a game in which both teams shot over 50.0% from the field. They're 0-2 in these games. They don't have the firepower to stick in games like this and it showed. It's rare they don't leave their defensive imprint on a game but that's what happened.
BNo Tyreke Evans. No Jrue Holiday. No Ryan Anderson. No problem. Anthony Davis had 27 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way and the backcourt of Eric Gordon and Brian Roberts combined for 37 points. And no, that was Gordon with 34 and Roberts with three. New Orleans Pelicans survived the barrage of 3-pointers from the Atlanta Hawks by dominating the boards and barely turning the ball over.
C+Can't give up 35 points in the fourth quarter on the road and expect to win a tight game. DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap did a great job of scoring, but outside of that, the team needed a presence inside to balance everything out. 3-point shooting was great but they didn't get to the free throw line enough.
B+The Oklahoma City Thunder probably should have put this game away early with the Wolves' injuries but Kevin Durant gave them enough (26 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) to never really have to worry in the fourth quarter. Reggie Jackson had 20 points and Serge Ibaka did a great job protecting the rim.
B-The Minnesota Timberwolves were without Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, and Corey Brewer and still hung with the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road on the second night of a back-to-back for a little over three quarters. Ricky Rubio had an efficient scoring night from the field but missed five free throws and had a couple of big turnovers in the fourth to seal it for the Thunder.
BThe Denver Nuggets were hosting the Milwaukee Bucks and weren't leading at halftime. That's not ideal and even though they ended up winning by 10, it's hard to say they had a great game. Ty Lawson was phenomenal slicing up the Bucks' defense and Randy Foye gave him some great moments. JJ Hickson gave them 19 and 10 but still can't defend anything.
C+Larry Sanders and Khris Middleton both had 25 points as the Bucks put up a good fight for the second straight game. If Ersan Ilyasova doesn't shoot 4-of-16 and Brandon Knight doesn't shoot 4-of-17 and the Bucks don't give up 110 points, they might have won consecutive games for the first time this season.
BThe Sacramento Kings survived a furious comeback by the Toronto Raptors to secure another home victory, this one with Adam Silver in attendance. The trio of DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Isaiah Thomas combined for 72 points and 41 of the Kings' 51 free throw attempts. The team made 41 of them.
C+The Raptors may have been screwed out of a great comeback when Kyle Lowry got called for a kickout on a 3-point shot he hit to bring the game to within three. Instead, it remained a six point game and he was ejected when hit with his second technical foul, this one for running away from the call. Raptors also wouldn't have been in this position if they hadn't played like crap for three quarters.
A-In one of the most enjoyable, highlight-packed games we've seen this season, the Miami Heat pulled out a tough road victory. LeBron James controlled the entire game in a way only a few ever have. He had 31 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds to go with infinite highlights. Miami had seven players in double figures and Ray Allen hit a huge clutch three in the corner to help seal it.
BHard to be mad at the Los Angeles Clippers over this one. Without Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, they still took the Heat down to the wire behind the amazing play of Blake Griffin. He finished with 43points, 14 rebounds, and six assists in a career night for him. DeAndre Jordan had 16 and 16, and Jamal Crawford gave them 31 points. Outside of Crawford, the team was just 1-of-12 from 3-point range. They also turned it over 20 times.
 
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