for this game

Paul upstages Kidd as Hornets top Mavericks

Feb 21, 2008 - 4:48 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- In his long-awaited debut with the Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd wasn't even the best point guard in the building.

All-Star Chris Paul collected 31 points, 11 assists and nine steals as the New Orleans Hornets won their fifth straight game with a 104-93 victory over Kidd and the Mavericks at New Orleans Arena on Wednesday night.

"He (Paul) is just an extremely good young talent, and the sky is the limit for him," Kidd said. "He's just playing extremely well."

Fellow All-Star David West had 18 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans, which remained atop the Western Conference standings.

"We were just trying to come out and maintain where we've been all year," West said. "Whatever everybody's saying isn't going to affect us. We went out with a lot of aggression and attacked them. We really forced them to do things that they weren't comfortable doing."

It was the first game after the city hosted the All-Star Game this past weekend, putting basketball in the Bayou on center stage.

The All-Star Weekend's momentum seemed to follow through as 15,941 fans packed a raucous New Orleans Arena.

The Hornets had averaged less than 13,000 fans per game before the All-Star break and need to raise their average attendance to 14,750 fans before the end of the 2009 season or the team can opt out of their contract with the state.

No one got more attention during All-Star Weekend than Paul, who used the festivities as an opportunity to showcase his talents to the world. He showed them off again Wednesday.

Paul shot 11-of-20 from the field, including 2-of-3 from the three-point-arc, and committed just one turnover - falling just one steal shy of a rare points, assists and steals triple-double.

"Chris Paul set the tone in the first five minutes of the game with five steals," Hornets reserve point guard Bobby Jackson said. "He knows he is the reason why we are going to come out and play well. Everybody is pointing at him."

Taking over in the second half, Paul missed just one shot after halftime for the Hornets, who outscored the Mavericks, 57-49, in the final two quarters.

"We had a very aggressive mindset going into the game on both ends of the floor," Scott said. "I thought for the most part that we were able to do the things we talked about this morning on both ends."

But Paul, who is a legitimate MVP candidate, wasn't even the main story on this night.

A future Hall of Fame point guard, Kidd was dealt to the Mavericks on Tuesday after a snag in the deal nearly kept him with the New Jersey Nets.

"One game, one practice with Jason is not going to mesh overnight," Mavericks forward Josh Howard said. "You need to turn the page and get ready for the next game. They (the Hornets) had a great shooting game tonight."

But the teams were able to pull off the trade, which was the latest in a flurry of deals by Western Conference contenders.

"After the big trade, they're in that honeymoon stage and feeling real good about their decision and the direction their franchise is going in," Scott said. "I don't really pay too much attention to what other teams do."

Kidd finished with eight points, five assists, six rebounds and six turnovers.

"I caused a couple of breakdowns," Kidd said. "We had one practice (together). We can build on this. I was just trying to get guys the ball instead of just being aggressive. It's a lesson learned."

The Nets traded the point guard to the Mavericks for a five-player package - headlined by guard Devin Harris - and two first-round draft picks.

New Jersey also received forward Keith Van Horn, swing man Trenton Hassell, center DeSagana Diop, guard Maurice Ager and cash consideration - reportedly worth $3 million - while Dallas acquired forwards Antoine Wright and Malik Allen to complete the deal.

"We're not looking at it in terms of pressure," Kidd said. "We look at it as a challenge and it's a challenge we're excited about. Nobody's going to win the West easily."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points for the Mavericks, who have lost four of their last five contests.

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