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Nightly Grades: Bobcats whip Pacers, who clinch playoff berth anyway

By Royce Young | NBA writer

More NBA: Power Rankings | Expert Picks | Latest news, notes

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.

AA 22-point blowout win over the Pacers? A 22-point blowout win over the Pacers! And no one scored 60 points on them! Al Jefferson absolutely dominated, going for 34 points and eight rebounds as Charlotte picked up a critical, and unexpected, win on Wednesday.
AThe Nets have broken over .500 for the first time this season, and they did it in impressive fashion with a 103-94 win over the Grizzlies. Joe Johnson had 21, Deron Williams dished out seven assists and outside of a little fourth quarter lapse, the defense was terrific.
AThe Knicks won! That's big news! And they did it on the road against the desperate Timberwolves, getting 33 from Carmelo Anthony en route to a 118-96 win. It's probably too little too late for the Knicks, but who knows, maybe they've got one more little win streak to send a jolt back to the believers.
B+A total taking-care-of-business win for the Wizards against the Jazz at home. Trevor Ariza led the way with 26, John Wall had 10 assists with 14 points, and the Wizards added another game of distance between them and .500.
B+Some laughed at my choice for Joakim Noah as No. 3 in the MVP race, but he did a good job of backing me up tonight with yet another triple-double, his third of the season. Ten points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists for the Bulls big man, as D.J. Augustin led them with 26 points as they handled the Pistons in Detroit, 105-94.
BBeating the Celtics? Not an achievement. But doing it 24 hours after upsetting the Pacers in Indiana? That's pretty impressive.
BDwight Howard had 19 points and 13 rebounds in his return to Orlando, as James Harden popped in 31. And the Rockets just keep on rolling.
BNice win for the Nuggets, taking down the Mavericks 115-110. Wilson Chandler had 21, but here's the stat of the night: The Nuggets had 68 points at halftime. That seems like a lot. And then they only scored 11 in the third, but held on with another outburst, scoring 36 in the fourth. Weird game.
CThe bad news: They got smoked by the Bobcats. The good news: They clinched a playoff berth anyway. And it's just March 5, making the Pacers the earliest team to do that since the 1996 Bulls.
DThe Nets are in a bit of a solid groove, but the Grizzlies can't afford defeats right now. And Jon Leuer can't be leading you in scoring with 19 either. Not the end of the world for Memphis, because again, beating the Nets isn't easy right now, but the Grizzlies have to be careful here. They're in the hunt for the playoffs, but every game is precious for them right now.
FThey stink.
FRick Carlisle said it all after the game: “I take full responsibility for this loss. I should have subbed out all the guys in there after the first three minutes.”
FThat's some kind of a heartbreaking, soul-crushing defeat right there. They got over .500 last night, and had the look of a team maybe ready to make a little push toward the postseason with some winnable games ahead. And then they go and drop a stinker to the Knicks, losing by 12 on their home floor as Kevin Love struggled with 19 on 6-17 shooting. Oof.
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