Nightly Grades: The Pacers are beasts of the East


Here's the problem. You can point to offensive struggles, more Derrick Rose rust, new personnel, a road game, and all these points are valid. But th Chicago Bulls had a chance to win this game. 

The reason they didn't is that they don't have an extra gear. They haven't had it in the Thibodeau era. It's a good thing and a bad thing. They play consistently minute to minute, game to game, week to week. They always play hard. But they never have anything else in the tank. 

Elite teams, like Miami and Indiana, do. And in a close game, when the Indiana Pacers hit the afterburners, the Bulls couldn't pick up. Maybe that's just the homecrowd effect. But they just don't have the weapons or energ to burst past teams right now. They do what they do. And that's going to be enough more than often this season. 

But games like this, you need a little bit more. 


Paul George looks like an MVP candidate. David West is an assassin. Lance Stephenson makes plays, and they don't just defend, they attack you on defense. This is maybe the baddest team in the land right now. 

Also, the hustle, it is real. 

D+ It's an East-Coast second game of a back to back roadie. This happens. The Orlando Magic are sneaky good, the Los Angeles Clippers had a huge win Tuesday over the Houston Rockets . Schedule loss. 
 A-    Nikola Vucevic is just a MONSTER. 30 points and 21 rebounds. Victor Oladipo got some positive words from Chris Paul after the game, and the Magic most impressively are learning to close games.  Strong future for the young Magic. 
B-  Hey, a win's a win, and the Sixers have been tough. You would have liked to have seen them keep the foot down on the pedal, but the offensive spacing was much better and that's all you need when you're winless. Off the ledge, Washington Wizards fans.

It was a fun week, y'all. 


Another strong game, this one with an ailing Kemba Walker unable to deliver any contribution. Gerald Henderson moved in really smart ways to score and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is really turning into something, jumper or not. 

Really strong back to back performance for the Kitties. 


Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan are going to have to get a better points-to-shots ratio than 180-to-173 (for the season) if this team is going to go forward. But the bigger problem is their defense. Charlotte got in the lane at will. Jonas Valanciunas helped but still makes young-guy mistakes. 

Toronto gave up a 108 defensive efficiency against a team without Al Jefferson . That's bad. 


Can't figure out t. Weird defensive lapse against a bad ofe so far. Weird defensive lapse against a bad offensive team Wednesday night. 

Stil had a chance to win, but Kyrie Irvig, who finally got his shot going, dribbled it off his foot. They need some work, but even their best doesn't blow you away, not yet anyway.


Fun win. Dependent on O.J. Mayo to get hot, and needed some heroics from Caron Butler , but for a team that doesn't want to tank, it'll take as many of these as it can get. Very incomplete team, but one that competes consistently.  


You lost to Boston. I don't care if it was a road back-to-back. Go sit in the corner and think about what you've done. 


Kelly Olynyk did things! Jeff Green looked like an NBA player! They didn't blow a monster lead completely. 

They needed the loss more, but it's nice to throw the fans a bone sometimes. Sure. Good win.


The New Orleans Pelicans just blistered the Memphis Grizzlies and are very bipolar right now. They only have two modes: Destroy everything with wings of fire, or crash into the ocean floor. That's it. Vs. Memphis, they just overwhelmed the home team with offense. 


Set the warning fires, unlock the panic button, fire up the players-only meetings, and send the women and children to the bunker. This was a blowout before Zach Randolph left for the birth of his child, before Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless got hurt, before anything weird happened. 

They just clocked. This team is in dire straits right now and doesn't really know what it's doing on either end of the floor. 


Held on, and I get the back to back business. But is it weird to anyone else how close most of these games are for a team that nearly won the title? San Antonio Spurs are still picking up wins, there's just something that feels off. Can't put my finger on it. 


Hey, good job staying competitive, and having a lead for most of this game. The Phoenix Suns are scrappy. Just really rough and tumble. This was a good loss, especially without Goran Dragic

Might want to draw up a better final possession than Gerald Green desperation pull-up three though, Jeff Hornacek. (Admission: Their first attempt was a great Eric Bledsoe corner three off the corner.)


Just came out and ran the Wolves off their own floor. The defense was what got this one down for them. Steph Curry struggled from the floor and suffered an ankle injury, but they held one of the NBA's best offenses to an 83.9 defensive efficiency, the lowest mark of any team Wednesday. 

Great team basketball continues from the Golden State Warriors , who have been maybe the best team in the West so far. 


 Just seeed off all night. Ricky Rubio 's passes were off with his timng, Nikola Pekovic struggled inside, Kevin Love was ineffiicent compared to his usual standard, and their bench gave them very little. 

A step back for the Wolves who have now lost two straight. 


Oh, that's right. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are really good. Sorry, seems like everyone forgot that for a bit. Also, Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb came up big against a good opponent. Good early signs for OKC who seems to be getting it together. 


 Back-to-back road game against a Western Conference powerhouse. You would have liked to have seen better effort, but this stuff happens. No big worry for a Mavs team that looks pretty good. Schedule loss 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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