Paul leads Hornets past Pacers, 108-96Oct 18, 2009 - 4:14 AM By BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS(AP) -- The Hornets' draft-day trade that brought former LSU star Marcus Thornton back to his home state is looking pretty good.
Thornton scored 19 points, fearlessly driving into the paint to create shots, and New Orleans beat the Indiana Pacers 108-96 in a preseason game Saturday night.
"I'm not scared of anybody. They're either going to block it or put me to the ground," Thornton said. "I'm just trying to bring the energy to the team."
Chris Paul scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for New Orleans (2-4), and also finished with 11 assists. His 3-pointer with 1:41 left made it 101-94.
"An All-Star like that us supposed to take over. He did," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We missed some open looks ourselves, but that's the way the ball bounces."
Peja Stojakovic made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points for the Hornets. Hilton Armstrong blocked five shots.
Danny Granger scored 23 for the Pacers (2-3) in his return to his hometown. T.J. Ford added 22 points, Dahntay Jones 16 points and Troy Murphy had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pacers were plagued by turnovers, committing 22, which led to 22 Hornets points. Still, the game had 14 lead changes and 14 ties, and the Pacers led 88-85 after Ford scored consecutive baskets on a driving layup and a mid-range jumper.
Thornton, starting for the second time this preseason, tied it by hitting a double-pump floater over 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert while drawing a foul. Thornton then was credited with layup on Hibbert's goal tend to put the Hornets ahead 90-88.
"I am really pleased with how he has been playing," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "The good thing about Thornton is that once he realizes he makes a mistake, he fixes it right away. He's doing a good job so far."
David West, who scored 14 points, converted an inside pass from Armstrong to make it 94-90 and the Hornets never trailed again.
Bobby Brown, who is competing with first-round draft choice Darren Collison to be Paul's primary backup at point guard, scored nine points in 25 minutes.
His alley-oop dunk on a fast-break lob from Paul capped a 12-2 second quarter run and gave the Hornets a 46-44 lead.
Granger responded with a pair of 3s, the second tying the game at 52 and the teams were tied at 55 at halftime.
Collison played only one minute in the first half and did not attempt a shot. It appears Thornton, a second-round draft pick by Miami last spring before his trade to New Orleans, will see substantial playing time as a rookie.
Emeka Okafor, who is expected to start at center for New Orleans this season, sat out with a sprained toe on his right foot and has yet to play in the preseason. Ike Diogu, acquired in the offseason to back up West, also has yet to play because of a left knee sprain.
Indiana rookie Tyler Hansbrough, bothered by a sore right shin, was held out again. Jeff Foster (sore back) and Travis Diener (toe on left foot), who were listed as day to day, also did not play.
NEW ORLEANS 108 FINAL
Oct 17 10:37 PM
NEW ORLEANS 76 END, 3RD QTR
Oct 17 10:00 PM
NEW ORLEANS 55 HALFTIME
Oct 17 9:15 PM
NEW ORLEANS 25 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Oct 17 8:40 PM
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