Nightly Grades: Knicks are in the playoffs, for now

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. 

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A

Don't look now, but the New York Knicks are officially in the playoffs. At least by percentage points. The Atlanta Hawks are still ahead in the loss column, but with the Knicks blowing out the Brooklyn Nets 110-81. 

J.R. Smith looked like his old Sixth Man of the Year self with 24, Carmelo Anthony had an efficient 23 and 10 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 17 off the bench. 

Oh, and Iman Shumpert did this pretty thing:

A

19. 

The San Antonio Spurs can't be stopped. Seriously, there is no one that can stop them. In a game that appeared to be dangerous, the Spurs dispatched the Golden State Warriors with ease, 111-90. Just effortless domination. It was seemingly over early with a 31-18 first quarter, which is what the Spurs have done to everyone during this streak. Fast starts and early leads. 

A

The Houston Rockets were without Dwight Howard , but let's ignore that important qualification for a moment. Because the Toronto Raptors played a tremendous 48 minutes to eek out a 107-103 win as DeMar DeRozan poured in 33. 

A

Every now and then, the Minnesota Timberwolves show you what they were capable of this season. And in a 102-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies , it was all that and more. Kevin Love had a triple-double (24-16-10) and Kevin Martin added 21. What could've been.

A

The Washington Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, officially. With an easy 118-92 handling of the Boston Celtics , the Wizards locked up a postseason berth. I'm excited to see John Wall in the playoffs. You should be too.

A

The Clippers showed some of what makes them elite tonight coming back on the Suns. With a 34-17 fourth quarter, the Clippers erased a double-digit second half deficit, and did it with excellent defense and splendid halfcourt playmaking by Chris Paul and company.

B+ Again, D.J. Augustin played a great game (23 and six assists) as the Chicago Bulls dismantled the slumping Hawks without too much effort.
B

Hawks lose, Knicks win, Cleveland Cavaliers win. They're not quite out of this yet, despite the fact they totally should be. Kyrie Irving returned to the floor and the Cavs cruised past the Orlando Magic 119-98. Dion Waiters had 26, Irving added 17 and eight assists, Tristan Thompson and Spencer Hawes each had 20 and Jarrett Jack popped in 13. This was against the Magic, but that's the kind of performance the Cavs were supposed to be doing far more often.

B

They beat the Philadelphia 76ers 123-93. Annnnnnd scene.

C

The effort was there, and they just fell short in a good game against a good team. Missing Dwight Howard hurt, but Omer Asik filled in admirably with 15 boards. 

C-

The Indiana Pacers won, which for them at this point, is the important part. But sheesh, it was still kind of a terrible performance. 

They struggled all 48 minutes with the lowly Detroit Pistons , and needed an accidental dagger 3 from Paul George to finally put them away. 

GIF: Pacers F Paul George hits a comically deep three on Twitpic

A

Just a soul-crushing loss for the young Suns. They had the Clippers. Up 13 heading to the fourth, the Suns completely bogged down, failing to manufacture much of anything in the final 12 minutes. The loss to the Lakers last week was awful, but this one to the Clippers is the kind that could haunt you.

D

Can you blame them? The Spurs are in full on beast mode, so losing by 21 doesn't carry all that much shame. Then again, I think we all expected better.

D

They lost to the 76ers, barely beat the Milwaukee Bucks , and then barely lost to the Pacers. The Pistons are weird.

F

The Nets don't have a lot to feel bad about despite losing by 29 to the Knicks. They're still in the playoffs, and they've still been playing tremendous ball the last three months. 

But they missed a pretty big opportunity to deal a big blow to their crosstown rivals. That's the part that stings.

F

When you're in a battle like the Grizzlies, they're all bad losses. But 14-point loss to the Wolves is just no good. 

F

I'm starting to get this weird feeling that the Hawks don't especially want to be in the playoffs.

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