Nightly Grades: Bobcats whip Pacers, who clinch playoff berth anyway

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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 A 22-point blowout win over the Indiana Pacers ? A 22-point blowout win over the Pacers! And no one scored 60 points on them! Al Jefferson absolutely dominated, going for 34 points and eight rebounds as Charlotte picked up a critical, and unexpected, win on Wednesday.
A The Brooklyn Nets have broken over .500 for the first time this season, and they did it in impressive fashion with a 103-94 win over the Memphis Grizzlies . Joe Johnson had 21, Deron Williams dished out seven assists and outside of a little fourth quarter lapse, the defense was terrific.
A The New York Knicks won! That's big news! And they did it on the road against the desperate Minnesota Timberwolves , getting 33 from Carmelo Anthony en route to a 118-96 win. It's probably too little too late for the Knicks, but who knows, maybe they've got one more little win streak to send a jolt back to the believers.
B+ A total taking-care-of-business win for the Washington Wizards against the Utah Jazz at home. Trevor Ariza led the way with 26, John Wall had 10 assists with 14 points, and the Wizards added another game of distance between them and .500. 
B+ Some laughed at my choice for Joakim Noah as No. 3 in the MVP race, but he did a good job of backing me up tonight with yet another triple-double, his third of the season. Ten points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists for the Chicago Bulls big man, as D.J. Augustin led them with 26 points as they handled the Detroit Pistons in Detroit, 105-94.
B Beating the Boston Celtics ? Not an achievement. But doing it 24 hours after upsetting the Pacers in Indiana? That's pretty impressive.
B Dwight Howard had 19 points and 13 rebounds in his return to Orlando, as James Harden popped in 31. And the Houston Rockets just keep on rolling.
B Nice win for the Denver Nuggets , taking down the Dallas Mavericks 115-110. Wilson Chandler had 21, but here's the stat of the night: The Nuggets had 68 points at halftime. That seems like a lot. And then they only scored 11 in the third, but held on with another outburst, scoring 36 in the fourth. Weird game.
C The bad news: They got smoked by the Charlotte Hornets . The good news: They clinched a playoff berth anyway. And it's just March 5, making the Pacers the earliest team to do that since the 1996 Bulls.
D The Nets are in a bit of a solid groove, but the Grizzlies can't afford defeats right now. And Jon Leuer can't be leading you in scoring with 19 either. Not the end of the world for Memphis, because again, beating the Nets isn't easy right now, but the Grizzlies have to be careful here. They're in the hunt for the playoffs, but every game is precious for them right now.
F They stink.
F Rick Carlisle said it all after the game: “I take full responsibility for this loss. I should have subbed out all the guys in there after the first three minutes.”
F That's some kind of a heartbreaking, soul-crushing defeat right there. They got over .500 last night, and had the look of a team maybe ready to make a little push toward the postseason with some winnable games ahead. And then they go and drop a stinker to the Knicks, losing by 12 on their home floor as Kevin Love struggled with 19 on 6-17 shooting. Oof.
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