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Nightly Grades: Westbrook returns and OKC magically plays better

By Royce Young | 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

It's amazing. Russell Westbrook returns to his starting spot, flirts with a triple-double (17-9-9) and the Thunder go on the road and handle the Bulls a night after getting whipped by the Mavs. Weird how that happened, right?

Oh, and Kevin Durant dropped a cool 35-12-5 on 11-21 shooting against Jimmy Butler and the suffocating Bulls' defense. The Thunder: They can be pretty good when their best players play.

A

Hey, it's Deron Williams! Flashing back to 2010, Williams dropped 28 on the Suns as the Nets coasted to a high quality 108-95 win. Despite Gerald Green double-pump dunking on his face, Mason Plumlee played well (14 points, 11 boards) and Joe Johnson added 19. All five starters were in double-figures as the Nets shot 58.6 percent from the field.

AIt wouldn't have been surprising for the Mavericks to follow up their impressive beatdown in Oklahoma City on Sunday with a clunker at home against the Celtics. But they retained focus and added another game over the Suns with a 94-89 win. It was a bit of an escape, as the Mavs had the survive a late fourth quarter push that had the game within one with seconds left, but Dirk Nowitzki was too much down the stretch. Any win is a good win when you're in a playoff scrap.
B+The Rockets clearly had enough of that losing thing. Taking out their frustrations from losing in Miami on Sunday, they bounced back by dismantling the Jazz, 124-86. Terrence Jones led the way with 30 as the Rockets scored at least 28 in every quarter.
BDid you know: The Hawks are still hanging on to a playoff spot. I had forgotten until I looked tonight after their 97-83 win over the Bobcats. Paul Millsap had 28 and Pero Antic added a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds).
C

The won the game, but you can still ask what's up with the Pacers. Beating the 76ers was expected, but only doing it by nine and needing this Paul George dagger dunk was not.

C-

That's now 21 straight losses for the Sixers, a new franchise record. But hey, they competed and had a chance to beat a title contender on the road. They might be losing, but they're still competing.

DJust a tough loss on the road in Brooklyn. It wasn't an expected win or anything, but the Suns are slowly slipping away. Their fun and gun offense is stalling out and they aren't hitting shots from everywhere all that often anymore. They're now a game and a half behind Memphis and 5-5 in their last 10.
DThe Bulls know how to claw against the best, but they didn't have enough to stay with the ticked off Thunder. After getting the game within one at 76-75 with 10 minutes left, the Thunder went on a 13-0 run over the next 6:30, putting the Bulls to bed. That's right -- the Bulls didn't score a point for six and a half minutes.
DFive straight losses now for the Celtics. Not peaking at just the right time. (That's a tanking joke, you see.)
FThe Bobcats had won eight straight at home, but the Hawks snapped that despite 20 from Kemba Walker. The Bobcats had kind of been living a charmed home life the last couple weeks anyway, so this was coming. Especially since it was against the Hawks, who have owned Charlotte in recent memory.
FGetting beat by 38? Seeing as the Jazz have lost five straight and are 1-9 in their last 10, that seems about right.
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