Paul scores 28 as Hornets rally past Rockets 99-95Jan 3, 2010 - 5:02 AM By BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS(AP) -- For Chris Paul, it's not always about strategy, but simply that uncanny knack for rising to the occasion.
With New Orleans down by seven inside the final three minutes, Paul scored or assisted on 10 straight points, and the Hornets closed with a 13-2 run to pull out a 99-95 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.
"When we're out there playing a game, I'm looking at the score like, whatever we got to do to make sure we got more than them at the end of the game, that's what I'm going to do," Paul said.
Indeed he did, finishing with a game-high 28 points, nine assists and a pair of steals.
Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 16 rebounds for New Orleans, and David West added 14 points, including a jumper that gave the Hornets the lead for good with 47.6 seconds left.
Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and Aaron Brooks had 17 for Houston, which shot 49 percent and led most of the game, but was hurt in the end by 19 turnovers and the lack of a go-to scorer in the final minutes.
"When they needed scores and they needed stops they got them, and when we had opportunities, we didn't capitalize on them," Ariza said. "They did what they do best, and that's get the ball to Chris Paul and let him make plays."
While Houston was 8 of 20 on 3-point attempts, it appeared that long-range shooting would be the Hornets' downfall. New Orleans was only 2 of 13 from long range before Paul found James Posey for a momentum changing 3 with 2:07 to go. Paul followed with a driving layup and was fouled for a three-point play.
After Ariza missed a long jump shot as the shot clock wound down, Paul found West for a mid-range jumper to put New Orleans in the lead.
Houston, which overcame an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat New Orleans in Houston on Tuesday night, continued to fall apart this time. Landry fouled out when Posey crashed to the floor as Landry pushed his way across the lane, drawing a whistle as Landry held up his arms in disbelief. The call infuriated Rockets coach Rick Adelman.
"I'm going to be trying to find out what an offensive foul is," Adelman said after the game. "That's all I want to find out - what an offensive foul is."
He cut short his post-game interview seconds later, saying that if he continued it was "gonna cost me."
Landry said he didn't run over Posey intentionally and that Posey "tried to flop a little bit."
Posey said he'd recognized the play Houston was running and moved into Landry's path.
"He didn't even slow down and he just ran me over and I was able to get the call," Posey said. "It was just one of those heady plays, just saving it for a stretch like that."
After Landry went to the bench, Paul then wound the shot clock down as he backed into the lane and hit a tough turnaround fadeaway to make 96-93 with 19 seconds to go and send the crowd into a frenzy.
"Don't nobody do that except Kobe," Landry said. "It's just a tough shot and it fell."
Brooks tried to tie it but missed from long range. Devin Brown got the rebound and was quickly fouled. He hit both free throws to cap a 12-point night, and the Rockets were unable to recover.
Houston led for much of the first half and went up by 11 early in the third quarter when Shane Battier's transition 3-pointer made it 62-51. The Rockets shot 51.8 percent (29 of 56) through three quarters and led 77-71 heading into the fourth.
New Orleans was as close as 86-84 after Paul converted an off-balance leaner as he was bumped by Kyle Lowry into a three-point play. Brooks answered with a 3 from the right wing, and after West scored, Brooks hit a pair of free throws and Landry scored inside to put Houston up 93-86 with 2:57 left. The Rockets would score only two points the rest of the way.
"I'm really happy and proud of our guys for how they won," Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. "We had stretches that we had breakdowns, but when we needed stops, we defended and really tried to keep them contained."
Louis Scola scored 15 for Houston, but it all came before he checked out with four fouls in the third quarter. Kyle Lowry added 12 points.
Darius Songaila scored 12 in a reserve role for New Orleans.
NOTES: Okafor had 11 rebounds in the first half alone. ... The Hornets (15-16) have won 11 of their last 12 at home, where they are 13-3 this season. ... Houston won the first meeting of the season between the teams, 108-100 in Houston on Dec. 29. ... Houston came in having won six of eight games and two in a row. ... The Rockets (20-14) dropped to 10-10 on the road this season.
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
HOUSTON 26 24 27 18 95
NEW ORLEANS 24 22 25 28 99 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: HOU - TREVOR ARIZA 19, AARON BROOKS 17,
LUIS SCOLA 15
NOR - CHRIS PAUL 28, DAVID WEST 15,
EMEKA OKAFOR 14
Jan 2 10:31 PM
END 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
HOUSTON 26 24 27 77
NEW ORLEANS 24 22 25 71 END 3RD QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 3RD QUARTER
HOU - TREVOR ARIZA 17, LUIS SCOLA 15,
AARON BROOKS 10
NOR - CHRIS PAUL 18, DARIUS SONGAILA 12, THREE
PLAYERS WITH 10
Jan 2 9:53 PM
HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
HOUSTON 26 24 50
NEW ORLEANS 24 22 46 HALFTIME
HIGH SCORERS AT HALFTIME
HOU - TREVOR ARIZA 11, AARON BROOKS 8,
LUIS SCOLA 8
NOR - CHRIS PAUL 9, DEVIN BROWN 8,
EMEKA OKAFOR 8
Jan 2 9:08 PM
NEW ORLEANS 24 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 2 8:38 PM
- NBA China to open basketball-themed Playzone in Shanghai May 17
- Hornets PG Kemba Walker has another surgery on left knee May 9
- George's return has Pacers dreaming of brighter future May 2
- Hornets future unclear with 4 starters becoming free agents May 2
- Game 7's to decide Miami-Charlotte, Toronto-Indiana series Apr 30
- Rockets must find coach in wake of first-round ouster Apr 29
- Batum 'running on adrenaline' in Game 6 after birth of child Apr 29
- Blazers, Hornets can cap comebacks, Raptors also can advance Apr 29
- Blazers, Hornets can cap comebacks, Raptors also can advance Apr 28
- Hornets C Spencer Hawes out for remainder of series vs Heat Apr 28
- Warriors reach second round with MVP Stephen Curry sidelined Apr 28
- Warriors roll into second round of playoffs without Curry Apr 28