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Nightly Grades: The Truth shall set you free, Brooklyn

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
B+A lot of factors go into winning or losing a game, but I think you can credit Paul Pierce and Mirza Teletovic shooting the lights out from downtown for the Brooklyn Nets' win over the Miami Heat. Pierce was 5-of-7 from 3-point range and Teletovic was 3-of-5 as they provided big shots against the Heat. Pierce finished with 29 and the Nets moved into the 5-seed with the win.
CI have no idea why LeBron James is shooting only 13 times in a game, but it's probably not a recipe for success in games that don't involve 20-point victories. Heat were sloppy with the ball, and even threw it away on the final possession when they were looking for the win.
A-The Denver Nuggets survived a furious fourth quarter from the Orlando Magic and rode Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, and Ty Lawson to victory on the road. With only eight fast break points, the Nuggets did almost all of their damage in the half court, shooting the ball really well from outside.
C-The Orlando Magic didn't turn the ball over a lot (eight times), but they got destroyed on the boards, despite a 16-rebound effort by Nikola Vucevic. The Magic just can't get stops at all and gave up 68 second half points to the Nuggets.
A-The Sacramento Kings absolutely lived at the free throw line, making 40 of their 50 attempts. Rudy Gay had 19 attempts alone, en route to 27 points. It's hard to know if the Kings' defense forced the 38.9 percent from the field by the Sixers or if that was just the Sixers. Kings did force 20 turnovers though; actually, that's probably the Sixers too.
F18 losses in a row.
A-In a season in which we've made fun of the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors are one win away from being 10 games over .500 on the season. They got another double-digit win, this time at the expense of the Detroit Pistons. Toronto dominated the boards and got good scoring efforts from Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan.
D+The Detroit Pistons have now lost 11 of their past 14 games, and just look like a bunch of individuals going for their own numbers out there. It's fantastic guys are going for their numbers, but it's making this team unwatchable.
B+After missing five straight games, Gerald Henderson returned to the Charlotte Bobcats and helped Al Jefferson lead them to a big road victory. They didn't share the ball much with just 13 assists, but they still managed to play good defense and score when they needed to. They turned a #LeaguePassAlert with five minutes left into a relatively easy finish.
C+John Wall had a great game scoring the ball, but he seemed pretty frustrated by the Bobcats' defense as the Washington Wizards let one get away. The Wizards just couldn't get to the free throw line at all (nine attempts), and it killed any chance of getting easy points against a good defense.
A-That's five wins in a row for the New York Knicks, and they might be just good enough to slip into that final playoff spot in the East. Carmelo Anthony had 34 points and nine rebounds, Cole Aldrich had a double-double in the start for Tyson Chandler, and Tim Hardaway Jr had 22 points off the bench in an easy victory.
DThis is what it looks like when the 2013-14 Boston Celtics sit Rajon Rondo to be careful about his return process.
BA clutch Mike Conley runner with 1.5 seconds left gave the Memphis Grizzlies the victory, despite not playing all that well against an injured Pelicans' team. This was very much a Grit N Grind type of win, as the Grizzlies cement themselves into the playoff picture.
B-They're missing a bunch of key players and it still took a winner with time winding down to take them out. The New Orleans Pelicans received a very promising game from Austin Rivers (14 points, nine assists), and Anthony Davis (29 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) was his typical awesome self.
B+Dirk Nowitzki was surgical with how he picked apart the Utah Jazz's defense and Monta Ellis had 11 assists as the Dallas Mavericks won another big game. Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington combined for 23 points off the bench and the Mavs kept pace with the Grizzlies.
C+All of the youth on this Jazz team played well and Utah still lost to help keep pace in the lottery odds sweepstakes. That's a lose-win situation for them.
B+

The San Antonio Spurs' outside shooting will get the majority of the glory for this win, but it was their stellar defense that shut down a great Blazers' offense. This team is pretty healthy and if they're playing defense like this when the playoffs come around, we'll see them back in the NBA Finals. Spurs' bench was huge with 46 points.

B-After losing LaMarcus Aldridge early in the third quarter, the Portland Trail Blazers weren't able to recover enough to take a game away from the Spurs in San Antonio. Nobody will blame them either. Blazers just couldn't get the same offense flowing like they normally do and they shot a horrendous percentage from 3-point range. Damian Lillard battled by putting up 23 points though.
A-Cleveland Cavaliers had six players in double figures, led by Kyrie Irving's 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, as they got a huge road victory in Phoenix. Spencer Hawes set the tone early with 17 of his 19 points in the first quarter. Cavs hit half of their 3-pointers in this game and played some of the most engaged defense we've seen from them all season.
D+Eric Bledsoe's return to the court didn't exactly go as planned. The Phoenix Suns' guard had 15 points and nine assists, but he needed 15 shots to get those points. Suns made just 10 of their 35 3-point attempts and were killed on the boards. The Suns continue to play inconsistently as we enter the final playoff push.
B+On a night in which Chris Paul struggled to make shots, Blake Griffin and Danny Granger (yes, that Danny Granger) provided the necessary scoring for the Los Angeles Clippers to win a big division game. Griffin had 30 points and 15 rebounds while Granger scored 18 points off the bench.
CThis story for the Golden State Warriors is getting old this season. Stephen Curry creates points, Klay Thompson and David Lee provide supplementary scoring, and nobody else steps up to help the team.
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