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Nightly Grades: LeBron James goes off back home in Cleveland

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.

TeamGradeAnalysis
D-

The Wizards just wouldn't put them away. They kept giving up just enough room off pick and roll coverage, and didn't crash the boards hard enough. Sure, Nene would have helped. But they needed this game and now they're facing a tough West coast road trip at the wrong time. They fell back into a tie with Brooklyn for the fifth seed with this loss.

A

On the odd night when Rudy Gay cooks like he did this game, they were ridiculously tough to beat. DeMarcus Cousins banged on the offensive glass, and Isaiah Thomas put in a triple-double.

There's a certain amount of frustration when the Kings win games like this. They should win more of them. But in another tough season, this was a fun win.

B-

They played exceptionally tough. The Blazers are a bit of a mess, but they're still a problem at home. Brandon Knight, Ramon Sessions, and Kris Middleton messed with Portland's pick and roll scheme and Ersan Ilyasova made plays.

Imagine if they had Larry Sanders. Or, you know... Andrew Wiggins.

D

I (almost) never give worse grades for wins than losses.

But come on, man. Y'all needed overtime to beat the Bucks at home. I can't give you a passing grade for that, and I'm nicer to the Bucks than most people. I get the injuries. I understand.

But they are a real mess in a lot of ways right now.

Damian Lillard's great, though.

C

LeBron scored 25 in the first, 16 over the next three quarters. Cleveland did a good job to discourage him, but he allowed it and the Heat didn't make them pay for the doubles.

It was a sloppy game with a sloppy result, but they made enough plays. Chris Bosh was great.

C

They were without Luol Deng and Kyrie Irving and hung with the champs, even leading periodically. Dion Waiters was terrific and a late blown no-call may have cost them a win. They fought.

Then again, a lot of teams fight when their best players are out. I'd be more impressed with a full-squad effort.

B

Jeff Teague was tremendous, just took over the game with 30 points. Pero Antic was great and Paul Millsap does his thing.

They made a lot of really smart plays and got a gutty win. Five in a row for the Hawks.

D

They get a little dependent on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to carry them when those guys maybe aren't good enough to do that to this degree. They lost Jonas Valanciunas to a back sprain and that was huge.

But they didn't have the coverage defensively and kept missing opportunities. They got foul happy late and that wasn't gonna cut it on the road. Toronto's a half-game up on Chicago for the 3-seed.

B

The Warriors are good at home, the Magic are bad, you don't need to know much more than that.

F

See above.

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