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Paul shines again as Hornets edge Sonics

Dec 10, 2007 - 4:13 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul collected 29 points and 10 assists as the shorthanded New Orleans Hornets escaped with a 91-88 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Sunday.

After scoring a career-high 43 points in his last game, Paul had to continue his red-hot shooting to make up for the losses of starters Peja Stojakovic (groin) and Morris Peterson (back).

The 2005-06 Rookie of the Year connected on 10-of-16 shots and made 8-of-9 free throws. It also was Paul's 11th time with at least 10 assists this season.

In the fourth quarter, Kevin Durant gave Seattle a 78-77 lead with 4:22 remaining on his dunk off a pass from Nick Collison. However, Paul answered back with consecutive baskets to forge a four-point advantage a minute later.

"They came out with a lot more energy than we did," Hornets forward David West said. "They were able to crash the basket in the third and get some offensive rebounds. They took advantage and got themselves some extra shots and got back into the game. Once you let a team back in as talented as they are with Durant, we knew we would be in for a fight."

Durant's huge 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go drew the Sonics within 86-85. But Bobby Jackson made a pair of free throws and David West split two from the line to rebuild a four-point edge.

"We fought our way back, but we just couldn't put out," said Durant, who scored 23 points. "I credit New Orleans for knocking down shots and for playing defense. I think it was a good game overall. We've just go to learn how to put both halves together."

Once again Seattle came within one on Earl Watson's shot from the arc, and still had a chance to win it after Jannero Pargo missed two foul shots with six seconds left.

But Collison threw the ball out of bounds on a half-court pass to Durant and Paul sank two free throws to seal the win in the waning moments.

"We weren't ready to play," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Whatever we were at the half, we were lucky to be where we were. Our defense was a disgrace. I don't know where we were, we just weren't ready to play."

Chris Wilcox had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Kurt Thomas contributed 12 and 10 for the Sonics, who held a 56-43 advantage on the glass.

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