Nightly Grades: Lakers find a way in Portland

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+ So, disclaimer, they beat a Portland Trail Blazers team starting four rookies. But in a game they HAD TO HAVE, the Los Angeles Lakers swept their first back-to-back of the season. And they did it behind one of the most incredible individual performances of the season. Kobe Bryant , playing all 48 minutes, finished with 47 points on 14-27 shooting, with eight rebounds and five assists. The Lakers stay a half game ahead of the Utah Jazz  and won a game that, while a struggle, is maybe the biggest of the season.
A No LeBron. No Wade. No Bosh. No Haslem. No problem against the Washington Wizards . Keep in mind, the Wizards were riding a nine-game home winning streak and the Miami Heat took them down 103-98 led by 23 from Ray Allen .
B+ An improbable four-point play sent the game into overtime against the Milwaukee Bucks , and the Orlando Magic outscored them 18-8 in the extra frame. Tobias Harris had 30 points, 19 rebounds and five assists, Nikola Vucevic had 30 points and 20 rebounds, and Doron Lamb had 16 points off the bench. It's the type of growing-up game this young Magic team needs more of. Impressive stuff from them.
B This grade is really just for Damian Lillard . The Blazers were extremely shorthanded playing without JJ Hickson , Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews , but took the Lakers to the wire, largely because of an outstanding effort from Lillard. A career-high 38 points and nine assists. If only he wasn't playing with Victor Claver , Sasha Pavlovic and Luke Babbitt .
C If they're aiming to avoid the Lakers in the first round, like some think they are, then mission accomplished. Playing without Tony Parker , the San Antonio Spurs became the 21st straight team to lose in Denver and fell out of the top spot in the West.
D Outside of John Henson , who had 17 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks (!!!), the Bucks were pretty much a disaster. Fouling to give up a four-point play that forced overtime and then getting outscored 18-8 in the extra frame is kind of terrible. Monta Ellis went just 7-27, and J.J. Redick was only  6-16. Lucky for the Bucks, they're basically locked into their No. 8 seed, but they sure didn't make anyone feel better about their chances with this loss.
F The Dallas Mavericks ' postseason hopes were sunk a couple weeks ago, but they still have a reason to play. Getting to .500 means they get to shave and, with an opportunity to do so, at home, against the Phoenix Suns , the Mavs laid a big egg. The loss drops them to 38-40, meaning if Dirk Nowitzki wants that beard off, the Mavs need to go at least 3-1 to finish out.
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