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Paul, Chandler help Hornets handle Knicks

Mar 4, 2008 - 4:22 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, it was apparent which team had a legitimate point guard on the court.

Chris Paul scored 27 points and contributed to three key baskets down the stretch as the New Orleans Hornets pulled away for a 100-88 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

David West netted 19 as New Orleans improved to 4-4 since the All-Star break and also surpassed its win total from last season. Tyson Chandler collected 15 and 18 rebounds as the Hornets also bounced back from Sunday's frustrating 17-point loss in Washington.

One of the factors that enabled New Orleans to recover was the chemistry between Paul and Chandler, who keyed a game-ending 10-0 run.

Paul, who also had eight assists, made his final one a game-clincher when he worked off a pick-and-roll and found Chandler for a monster alley-oop dunk with 67 seconds left.

"We got one of the best (point guards) in the game right now," Chandler said. "(Paul) is always in control of the flow and he always has an understanding of what's going on out there. That's why I love playing with the dude because you get hot and he understands it. He understands where to get you the ball and he just makes guys around you better."

"I said before the game, (Paul) is great," New York coach Isiah Thomas said. "He is just as good in person as when you watch him on tape."

It was another high-flying highlight for Paul and Chandler, who now have teamed up for a league-leading 60 alley-oops. The latest one put New Orleans ahead, 94-88, and was sandwiched around a Paul layup and three-point play.

"I take it for granted when he's not in the game with me, like what am I going to do," Paul said of Chandler. "Just having that option every time I drive the lane puts the defense on their heels a little bit."

"That's what great players do, either make a play for themselves or a play for their teammates," New Orleans coach Byron Scott "He did a real good job of getting to the basket and when he wasn't getting to the basket, he was finding open guys. He was finding Tyson for dunks and Peja (Stojakovic), Mo (Williams) and those guys for jump shots. He did what he was supposed to do."

The clutch performances of Paul and Chandler also moved New Orlean (40-19) to within 1 1/2 games of the San Antonio Spurs (41-17) for first place in the Southwest Division.

While the Hornets played with poise to close out a tight game, it was apparent the Knicks needed just that. They missed their final 12 shots, were handed their third straight loss and dropped to 18-42 in securing their seventh consecutive losing season.

Before the Hornets closed it out, the Knicks had a chance as rookie Wilson Chandler hit a 17-footer with 6:33 remaining to make it a one-point deficit.

The Knicks scored four points the rest of the way and none after Jamal Crawford's free throws made it a two-point game with 3:33 to go. In the final three-plus minutes, New York missed a pair of 3-pointers, four jumpers and a layup.

"We went a little bit cold, myself included," Knicks forward David Lee said. "It was one of those nights where we didn't make a lot of shots. (There's) no excuse on not winning. We need to find a way to finish it off and get a victory at home."

Crawford led the way with 20 points but was 7-of-20 from the floor for New York, which shot under 40 percent (35-of-86) overall and was 6-of-22 in the fourth.

Eddy Curry scored 19 points but did not take a shot in the fourth and Nate Robinson chipped in 17 for the Knicks, who were without forward Zach Randolph (foot).

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