Around the Rim: Drama out west

Clippers 95 Heat 89 (OT): Could this be the real Clippers that many people expected before the season? The Clips tightened up their defense down the stretch and rallied behind Chris Paul who had 27 points and 11 assists. A lot of people will pick on Lebron James for shrinking in the fourth quarter and overtime, hitting on just 1-of-6 shots. But the entire Miami Big Three struggled during that time, going just 4-of-18. Lebron though did strike out on the free throw line missing four of them in the final six minutes of regulation.

Blake Griffin had 20 points and 12 rebounds while Caron Butler had 20 of his own.

Lakers 90 Jazz 87 (OT): Kobe has another 40 point game but got cold late, missing the game-winner in regulation and then hitting on just 1-of-5 shots in overtime. But his supporting cast bailed him out in overtime. Pau Gasol hit a three (which prompted Jazz TV color commentator Matt Harping to scream “WHAT?!”) and Andrew Bynum a huge block of an Al Jefferson lay in under two seconds to preserve the win.

Both teams looked dog tired, having played the night before. Paul Millsap led the Jazz with 29 points while Josh Howard came off the bench for 18. This was the Lakers first road win and they beat a team that is very tough, especially at home.

Magic 107 Trail Blazers 104: The Magic were on fire, hitting 16 three’s and leading by as much as 23 points in the third quarter. But the Trail Blazers had a run in them and got the game down to just two points with 20 seconds to go. But their magic – pardon the pun – ran out and JJ Redick hit four throws to help Orlando hold on. The Magic had seven players in double digits and when they get balanced scoring and hit from deep, they are very good. They’re now 7-3 on the season but this was their first quality win. LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points while Jamal Crawford had 23 off the bench,

Spurs 101 Rockets 95 (OT): Just a night ago, Gregg Popovich was ripping his team’s defense. But he had to be happy with their effort in overtime, holding Houston to just 2-for-10 shooting. Tony Parker stepped up again with 28 points while Tim Duncan had 17 and 11 rebounds. The Spurs are now a perfect 7-0 at home while the Rockets are hard-luck losers again.

Mavericks 90 Celtics 85: Boston was behind all game long and fighting to get back in the game. But they finally caught up with Paul Pierce hitting a three with 25 second remaining to tie it up 85-85. So the Mavs turned to their star and Dirk Nowitzki drove pass Kevin Garnett and laid the ball in as he was fouled by Brandon Bass for the three-point play. Game over. Rajon Rondo had 24 points but KG, Piece and Ray Allen all struggled shooting.

Knicks 85 76ers 79: The Sixers have looked good so far this season and were riding a six-game winning streak into the Garden. That is where they ran into Carmelo Anthony who torched them for 27 points while Amar’e Stoudemire had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Philly couldn’t get it going on offense, shooting just 39.5%. The Knicks are heating up, having won four straight.

Thunder 95 Hornets 95: OKC was playing for the fifth time in six days so it’s no wonder why they looked sluggish for most of the game. Except for Kevin Durant. He didn’t have tired legs with 29 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. The Thunder swept the grueling stretch and moved to 10-2 with the best record in NBA along with the Bulls. The Hornets went just 1-16 from downtown. Chris Kaman and Carl Landry each scored 17.

Nuggets 123 Nets 115: Ty Lawson sat this one out with a strained right foot but his team didn’t miss a beat as they shot a blistering 59.5% in this score-a-thon. But New Jersey, connecting on 20-of-35 three pointers including six(!) from Jordan Farmar who led the Nets with 26 off the bench. The Nuggets had a season high 37 assists including 12 from Andre Miller who moved into the starting lineup. Danilo Gallinari had 22 points.

Bulls 78 Wizards 64: This game was flat out ugly. Derrick Rose was sidelined with an injured toe so John Lucas III got the start and became the team chucker, taking 28 shots but hitting 11 on his way to 25 points. The Wiz hit just 31% of their shots and had only 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Pacers 96 Hawks 84: Danny Granger broke out of his shooting slump, going 9-of-16 including three from downtown with 24 points total. The Hawks were sloppy with 18 turnovers and missing a bunch of layups. The Pacers are now 7-3 which is their best start in five years.

Kings 98 Raptors 91: Now this is the player many thought DeMarcus Cousins could be. He dominated in the paint with 21 points and 19 rebounds while Tyreke Evans went off for a season-high 29 points. If Cousins can stop complaining and focus on playing basketball, he can be a force. Leandro Barbosa had 24 points for the Raptors.