Nightly Grades: Rockets crush the slumping Pacers

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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.

A The Houston Rockets are 22-6 since Jan. 1, and added to that with a 112-86 whipping of the Indiana Pacers . A 31-6 run in the third turned a fairly close game into a laugher, as James Harden erupted for 28, with 16 coming in the third.
A The Dallas Mavericks were up 40-10 on the Portland Trail Blazers early in the first half. And somehow, with 3:50 left, they were down six. But in an extremely important game, the Mavs hung together finishing on an 11-0 run, sparked by Devin Harris -- yes, Devin Harris! -- to pull off a very weird 103-98 win over the Blazers.

Break up the Charlotte Hornets ! OK, so that's only two straight wins, but they've shown a nice response in bouncing back from LeBron's 61-point night against them. It would've been very Bobcat-y to have followed up their blowout win over the Pacers with a bad loss tot he Cleveland Cavaliers , but instead they got another huge night from Al Jefferson (28 points) to hold off Cleveland for a 101-92 win.

Oh, and check out this ridiculous pass from Josh McRoberts :

A Of the three or four second tier Eastern teams, the Toronto Raptors are probably the most consistent at beating the teams they should. They don't often have hiccups against bad teams, and tonight was another example as they dropped the Sacramento Kings 99-87 behind 19 from Terrence Ross to go eight games over .500. 
A The Memphis Grizzlies are hanging tough in the Western playoff chase. Their game in Chicago tonight would've been a very easy one to drop, or really, an expected one. But Marc Gasol had 18 as the Memphis defense shut the door, keeping the Grizzlies on pace. 
B+ Boston Celtics win! 
B+   New York Knicks win! (So what that they beat the Utah Jazz .)
B Big bounce back win for the Minnesota Timberwolves . They could've let their deflating loss from Wednesday against the Knicks beat them again tonight against the Detroit Pistons , but they showed up and put in the work to handle business. Kevin Love had 28 and 14 in a 114-101 win.

The Denver Nuggets are just a different team with Ty Lawson . He had 17 assists tonight and absolutely torched the Los Angeles Lakers swiss cheese defense. Lawson makes so much happen, opening the door for big games for guys like Kenneth Faried (32 and 13), and he also does things like this:

C- On the surface, it's not that bad of a loss. They were on the road playing a desperate Mavs team. But getting in a 40-10 hole was horrible, and then it somehow got worse because they dug out to lead by six in the final few minutes, only to give the game away. 
D Hey, bright side: The Lakers improved defensively from last night's debacle against the Los Angeles Clippers . The bad news: They still gave up 134 points and lost by eight. The effort was there though, as they competed, outscoring Denver by 11 in the fourth to give themselves a semi-shot. Their big problem? They just aren't any good.
F These are the kinds of losses the Brooklyn Nets were very good at early in the season. A very winnable one on the road against the Celtics, and the Nets never found consistent offensive rhythm, and scored only 14 in the fourth in a 91-84 loss. Back to .500. 
F Following up their beatdown against the Bobcats, the Pacers went to Houston and lost by 26. Something's wrong, it seems. Paul George is in a funk, the bench isn't producing, and the defense is weak. Just a little late season swoon, or something bigger?
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