Paul hits game-winner as Hornets top NetsNov 13, 2007 - 5:30 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Even the New Orleans Hornets could not figure out how they pulled off an improbable victory.
Chris Paul scored a season-high 27 points and made a running layup over Jason Kidd with two seconds left as the Hornets erased an 11-point deficit in the final five minutes for an 84-82 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
Paul struggled through most of the second half but took over down the stretch as New Orleans, which led by as many as 13 points in the first half, avoided a collapse of its own with a pair of four-point possessions and stellar play from its leader.
"There were a few times down the stretch I thought it might be over," Paul said. "But we showed a lot of fight."
"I don't know how we won the game," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "This is the type of game last year we probably would have lost. It says a lot about the resiliency we have as a team."
Despite playing without injured star Vince Carter, the Nets dominated the third quarter and scored 12 of the first 15 points in the fourth.
The Hornets went scoreless for the first 5:44 of the final period and looked lifeless, but reeled off nine straight points and finally forged an 82-82 tie on a four-point play by Morris Peterson with one minute to go.
On the ensuing possession, Kidd grabbed the offensive rebound when Nenad Krstic missed a pair of free throws for New Jersey. But Krstic missed an off-balance jumper with 20 seconds to go and New Orleans did not call a timeout - putting the game in the hands of its young star.
"I looked at coach to see if he wanted to call a timeout and he said 'No, push it,'" Paul said. "I watch a lot of games and teams usually do better when they don't call timeout."
Paul let the clock wind down and took advantage off a screen from Tyson Chandler by driving down the right side and hoisting a runner off the glass and over the outstretched hand of Kidd to give the Hornets their first lead of the quarter.
"We ran a screen and J. Kidd got held up a little bit," Paul said. "I know we're at our best when I'm coming off the pick-and-roll with Tyson rolling towards the rim. I just saw the lane and realized, if I could get over there quick enough, I could get to my floater."
"Chris is very creative with the ball and a great point guard," Kidd said. "He got to his right hand and he made a tough shot, but that's what great players do."
Antoine Wright, who started in place of Carter, missed a fadeaway jumper off the front of the rim as time expired.
The decisive basket capped a remarkable stretch for Paul, who ended the Hornets scoreless stretch on a 3-pointer with 6:16 remaining and started the key 9-0 run with another shot from the arc at 4:25.
David West was fouled under the basket on the play and made the resulting free throw.
Paul assisted on a dunk by Chandler with 3:20 left and fed West for a layup that brought the Hornets within 80-78 with 2:10 remaining. Wright followed with a jumper at 1:52 and the Nets appeared close to sealing the game when Jason Collins rebounded Paul's miss with 65 seconds to go.
But Paul stole the ball and made a pass to Peterson, who drained a wide-open 3-pointer just before Collins crashed into him. Peterson made the ensuing free throw to tie it.
"Chris made an unbelievable play with the steal," Peterson said. "I just remember standing up on the right wing and calling his name out and he saw me. I don't know, I just knocked it down, and it was a great feeling to be fouled."
Chandler collected 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks and West had 13, eight and five assists for New Orleans, which has bounced back from its first two losses of the season with victories on consecutive nights.
Richard Jefferson scored 16 of his 32 points in a dominant third quarter but failed to score in the fourth as the Nets clearly missed Carter, who is sidelined indefinitely a with sprained right ankle he suffered in Saturday's loss to Boston.
Kidd had 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Krstic posted his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds as the Nets lost consecutive games for the first time this campaign.
"I don't think we're wondering, we know what went wrong," Kidd said. "We made some mistakes down the stretch. Those type of things came back to hurt us."
The Hornets put on a shooting display in the first half, making 49 percent (19-of-39) of their shots and 8-of-11 from 3-point range. They led by as many as 13 in the first half and had a 49-37 halftime cushion.
But New Jersey outscored New Orleans, 30-16, in the third quarter led by Jefferson, who made 5-of-9 shots and 5-of-5 free throws. The Hornets made just 6-of-18 shots and committed six turnovers in the period.
NEW ORLEANS 84
NEW JERSEY 82 FINAL
Nov 12 9:49 PM
NEW ORLEANS 65
NEW JERSEY 67 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 12 9:13 PM
NEW ORLEANS 49
NEW JERSEY 37 HALFTIME
Nov 12 8:33 PM
NEW ORLEANS 26
NEW JERSEY 21 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 12 8:05 PM
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