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Nightly Grades: Rockets get under OKC's skin, but Thunder get the win

By Matt Moore | 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.


It was an interesting tactic. Houston basically tried to annoy the Thunder into not noticing they were staging a comeback. And it almost worked. The Thunder were so busy hitting threes in the Rockets eyes and preeinging for the crowd, that Houston cut it to five.

But there's also a problem. They still can't defend at the level they need to. But the bigger issue was that they got away from their best tactic for success: threes. They took 25 threes to OKC's 29, and they shot just 36 percent from the arc. Houston needs a much bigger percentage there.

They didn't try enough to drive and kick in the pick and roll, which is a consistent issue.

It's nice that they managed to annoy and anger the Thunder so much, but a win would have been a better statement.


Russell Westbrook was fantastic, and all of a sudden no one's complaining about him. Funny how that works.

Their interior defense was terrific. They stayed home and cut of lanes at the elbow, and challenged inside. Steven Adams had a terrific performance against Dwight Howard.

Oh, and KD 42 points on 22 shots, five rebounds and four assists.


They finally got back on their feet. Bynum came in and gave them quality minutes, but their defense forcing 35 percent shooting was much bigger. Paul George was still quiet, but a little more efficient, and David West was an absolute monster. He just crushed everything. Also, he's terrifying.


Rajon Rondo's going to get tired of this really fast.


In this morning's picks video, I took the Spurs as a lock, even on the road vs. a playoff team. The reason? The Bulls out-work and out-execute you, but you can't do that to San Antonio. Effort's not enough, you have to out-talent them. The Bulls can't, not anymore.

They got worked over.


Your typical Spurs win. It should be noted that their ability to do this to the Bulls is unmatched. There's a reason the Bulls knocked off Miami and then get absolutely trounced. No one has the execution level of the Spurs, and they're firing on all cylinders right now.


There is nothing notable or suprising about them losing to one of the team struggling the most in the league, and going down double digits early in doing so.

Rudy Gay had 20 points on 21 shots.


They put together their best defensive effort in a long time, and Rodney Stuckey was incredible. Stuckey's been one of the few bright spots this year.

Big win to stabilize the ship to a degree. Even Josh Smith was efficient.


This was a big boy game. They were on the road vs. a tough team who beats you with determination, execution, and not talent. They're not flashy. This is playoff style, and Portland was totally unpreprared for it. They can't hang with a team like this. There are a lot of offensive-heavy teams in the playoffs for them, it's good they won't face Memphis.

They got their teeth kicked in a little bit on this one.


The whole package for grit grind. Tony Allen made cuts and made big plays. Zach Randolph worked inside. Marc Gasol made great passes, Mike Conley made great decisions, and in a twist from years past, Mike Miller and Courtney Lee spread the floor extremely well.

One of the best wins of the year and one of the biggest. Memphis moved a full game over Phoenix for the 8-seed.


They hung! They played pretty well for a while!

Then they were the Bucks. One less game.

Jeff Adrien is having a good season.


They were down to the Bucks for most of the game. They won. Great. But this sure seems like a team that's making vacation plans for late April. Kevin Love is great, though. His effort on defense shouldn't be overlooked this year.


The turnovers were problematic, as they always do, but this was a model Warriors win.

They crushed the Mavs with defense. Andrew Bogut was a force inside and Andre Iguodala was quick and effective on the perimeter. Harrison Barnes contributed. Their outisde shooting was blistering. This team is hitting its top gear in time for a push up the playoff ladder.

Big game vs. the Clippers next.


I will keep saying it however many times I have to.

This team cannot defend at a playoff level and it will either miss the playoffs or be dismissed summarily because of it. This is not the veteran 2011 team that coasted. This is a squad with legitimate weaknesses, and the Warriors exposed all of them.

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