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Nightly Grades: A Wolves-Heat Instant Classic

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-

OK, baby steps. They battled. They fought. Paul George finally got loose offensively. They looked like a legit team.

But it still wasn't enough. They just don't have any balance. Spacing, touches, mental, none of it is balanced.

Late in the game, Lance Stephenson had the ball off a steal, down four with less than a minute left. It was one on three. If this were November, he would have split the defenders, drawn the foul, and scored the and-one.

Instead, his layup went wild off the glass and no foul. That was it.

The Pacers' body language is that of a manic depressive.

A-

No Kyle Lowry, no Amir Johnson, and they gutted out another win. There's something special going on in that building, and the Raps are going to be tough to beat there in the playoffs.

Greivis Vasquez made a huge shot late, but Terrence Ross was the hero. When his catch and shoot game is going, it opens up a ton for the Raps. Oh, and Jonas Valanciunas ate Hibbert alive.

C

Good effort, but Ty Lawson was banged up, they're missing another five serious rotation players, and Aaron Brooks had to play 40 minutes.

The effort here was actually really decent, but Memphis had them out-manned.

B-

It was a must win with their schedule this week (Spurs and Heat next) and they won. Zach Randolph hit some killer shots but was inefficient. The difference was really Mike Conley who tore things up in the second half. When his floater is falling and you're sagging the bigs, you're in big trouble.

Memphis held Denver to 36 percent shooting.

Grizzlies hold on to a playoff spot for another day.

D

Victor Oladipo is pretty great. He had 21 points and was a plus-7. Jameer Nelson was a minus-20 and had 11 points.

Guess which one started?

They just didnt' have another weapon with Nikola Vucevic out. Charlotte's defense swallowed them alive.

B

Kemba Walker had a triple-double and Al Jefferson had 29. That's the model. Well, that and absolutely killer defense that held the Magic to 36 percent shooting and an 85. offensive rating which is horrible.

Charlotte is one win away from clinching a playoff spot.

F-

They had momentum. They had the schedule. They had the tiebreakers. They had just gotten Kyrie back.

And now this.

That pretty much wraps up Cleveland's season. Three back with five to go, four in the loss column.So much potential wasted. The story of the Cavs.

.

B

Jeff Teague ate up the Cavs' defense, patient and determined, and Mike Scott had 26 off the bench. Good ball movement got them this one, and now the Hawks don't look like roadkill as much.

Full game up on New York with seven to play.

B

Henry Sims had 24 points on 10 shots tonight. Contract the Celtics.

F-

I've said it before. I'll say it again.

They don't rebuild. They reload.

D-

The basketball IQ differential in this game was like the difference between MIT graduate programs and the part at my toddler's daycare where they play with Play-Dough.

B

The Nets are so patient. They just hammer you with execution, finding the right amount of space to create shots and then getting back in transition. They were ten steps ahead of Detroit all night.

Mirza Teletovic had 20, Livingston 23, and Deron Williams had a terrible night and the Nets still cruised. 61 percent shooting for the Nets.

A+

This was a game of the year candidate, which says a lot since the Wolves aren't making the playoffs. Kevin Love was spectacular, Corey Brewer did his outlet thing.

They got solid contributions from a lot of guys, and Ricky Rubio's late-game defense was just superb. This was a fantastic, feel-good win vs. the champs, even without Wade..

It took 2 overtimes, and a series of freakish circumstances, but it happened.

At the end of regulation, down one, Mario Chalmers drove, both he and the defender flopped, he got the call. He missed one of two free throws to tie the game. Kevin Love missed a game winner.

In OT, down one, Mario Chalmers drove, both he and the defender flopped, no, this isn't a typo, it happened this way twice, Chalmers got the call. Kevin Love missed the game winner.

Finally in double OT, LeBron missed a free throw, Corey Brewer drew a foul, knocked it down, and Ray Allen missed the game winner.

Huge win for the Wolves, for momentum towards next year if nothing else.

A+

Hard to take anything away from them, they just didn't get things to go their way down the stretch without Dwyane Wade (and Greg Oden).

You would have liked to have seen some better late-game playcalling and execution, but you can tell they're holding back things to keep them fresh for the playoffs.

The doubles from Minnesota messed with LeBron and the Heat's lack of shooters is a real issue for them. They may end up missing Mike Miller more than they thought.

But still, a double overtime loss by one? .

B

Monster win for the Wizards. Bradley Beal is opening himself up as a certified Knicks killer. They've got a lot of good things going right now.

When Wall shakes loose in that high pick and roll, he's become deadly, able to rise up and hit, find the roll man, find the cutting shooter. Everything has slowed down for him and executes by knowledge, not feel.

Tough defense to force the turnover on the Knicks' final play and a big win.

D-

Carmelo Anthony was hurt, pretty badly according to him after the game. He played through it because no matter what, he cares enough to try.

J.R. Smith kept him in it, but he did it with poor shot selection. This always heppens. He finds good fortune by playing smart, then gets to feeling too good and goes back to bad habits.

Tyson Chandler played exceptionally well in this game. Raymond Felton had some big moments.

It just wasn't enough.

D+

Some hustle, no effect. The Bucks.

B

Lots of hustle. Lots of effect. The Bulls.

C+

The Thunder were in stop-and-start mode in this game. They never could establish a rhythm. That speaks to what Russell Westbrook, who sat out this game, gives them. He helps them keep up velocity when the engine starts to idle.

They're missing one more offensive contributor and are trying to cobble it together with ten different options. The result, without Westbrook, is not quite having enough to finish the move.

Durant with 25 for the 40th straight game. But they lost the progress they made on San Antonio Thursday.

B

With two weeks to go before the playoffs, James Harden was different tonight. His tomahawks had more force. His cuts were more aggressive. His defense was... not a total disaster. You could sense his realization of how much more important these games are.

Omer Asik was terrific on both ends, including huge free throws towards the end

Jeremy Lin struggled, but Francisco Garcia made up for it. Huge win for the Rockets, and they've clinched a playoff berth.

D-

Some nights they don't have it this season, not with their injuries.

B

When Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward both play like this, the Jazz have a chance. Imagine if they add another imapct player in June.

B

They've discovered the edge that you find when you're battling for the playoffs. They were sharper, smarter, stronger but most importantly more desperate.

When Goran Dragic and Gerald Green were on the court together vs. Portland, they outscored the Blazers by 24 points. That's your ballgame.

D-

Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge: 33 points on 31 shots. IT's not just about the point total. They have to be efficient or they're doomed. Their defense isn't good enough otherwise.

B

Dirk. That's all. That's all I've got, that's all they needed.

B

You ever seen a school of fish scatter when a predator arrives?

That.

F-

They scored 27 points in a half.

B

They did not score 27 points in a half. So they won.

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