Around the Rim: Sixers look strong, Bulls cruise

76ers 96 Pacers 86:  Don’t look now but Doug Collins has Philly sitting atop the Atlantic Division at 6-2.  And it’s not a fluke either.  The Sixers are going nine deep in their rotation and winning close games too.  Case in point was the 15-3 run in the third quarter to take control over the Pacers.

They got 41 points off their bench while Andre Iguodala led the balanced offense with 20 points.  But the Sixers attack teams on defense with the Pacers held to just below 37% shooting on the night.  Now, the team is taking advantage of their schedule so far which has been heavy with home games but they’re first in points allowed (85.6), 2nd in rebounds (46.1) and fifth in points scored (100.3).  Those are signs of a good team.

Bulls 92 Pistons 68:  This was a tale of two quarters with the Bulls taking control in the 2nd quarter and a nine point lead at halftime and then shutting down the Pistons in the final quarter, holding them to just nine points.  And no one had to play heavy minutes for Chicago and they breezed their way to a victory.

Carlos Boozer had a big game, missing just four shots on his way to 23 points while Derrick Rose had 22 of his own.  The Pistons have no identity on either end of the court and just can’t seem to put it together.  Greg Monroe has been about the only bright spot with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.  They’re still winless on the road and just 2-7 on the season.

Knicks 91 Bobcats 87:  The Knicks just can’t make anything easy.  They were down 10-0 right out of the gate but came back immediately.  They let the Bobcats hang around the entire game with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire ice cold but Melo hit the big shot late to help secure the win.   It wasn’t pretty, shooting just 38% for the game, but New York has now won three straight.

Boris Diaw looks badly out of shape but he almost had a triple double with 19 points and 10 rebounds and seven assists.  Just imagine what he could do if he dropped about 15-20 pounds.

Hawks 106 Nets 101:  Believe it or not, these teams have now played three times already this season.  And the Hawks got the sweep.  Every one of their starters scored in double digits led by Josh Smith and his 26 points with the team shooting almost 54% from the field.  The Nets once again were down big early – 13 after just the first quarter – but fought their way back to make a game of it.  MarShon Brooks got the start and made the most of it with 19 points and 10 rebounds.  Just not enough for the Nets who are 0-4 at home so far.

Raptors 97 Timberwolves 87: Dreadful shooting by the T’Wolves who hit just under 34% of their shots with Kevin Love going just 3-16.  Meanwhile, the Raptors got 31 points from big man Andrea Bargnani who has been on a tear, averaging almost 24 points.  The T’Wolves are normally pretty fun to watch but not on this night.  For all the excitement, the team is now just 3-6 on the season.  The Raptors have now won 14 of the last 15 games between these two teams.

Hornets 94 Nuggets 81:  The Hornets were banged up, missing Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Xavier Henry while Jarrett Jack played with a sprained right foot.  But they pulled together in a tough place to play in Denver for the win to snap their six-game losing streak.  Carl Landry had 21 points while Chris Kaman put up 20.  The Nuggets got out to a good start with 27 points in the first quarter but then the offense fell apart with just 54 points the rest of the way.   They had to be kicking themselves over this one, losing to a depleted team on their home floor.