Paul, third-quarter burst help Hornets cruise past NetsMar 8, 2008 - 5:25 AM By Michael Nissman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets used a big third-quarter burst to take control.
Paul scored 25 points and dished out 16 assists as the Hornets posted a 107-96 victory over the reeling New Jersey Nets on Friday.
Tyson Chandler had 19 points and 10 rebounds and rookie Julian Wright had season highs of 20 and eight for New Orleans (42-19), which has won three straight and five of six to remain just 1 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs (43-17) for best record in the Western Conference.
"We had a good start and then, you know, between Paul and (Peja) Stojakovic, quickly got them back into it," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Wright obviously gave them a huge lift and a huge spark off the bench."
The Spurs play at the Denver Nuggets later Friday night.
Wright considered Friday's game an audition for starting role sometime down the road.
"I'm just trying to get my spot next year," Wright said. "I've been working on my game, that's the only thing you can do. It's a long season, so you gotta be ready when you get your chance to step up."
Hornets coach Byron Scott contributed Wright's success to a new sense of confidence.
"I trust him," Scott said. "I think it's all about confidence. Once Julian got a chance to be on the court a little bit, his confidence has gotten better and better."
The Hornets, who are 19-1 when Paul and Chandler have double-doubles in the same game, trailed, 46-43, at the break before outscoring the Nets by 14 in the third to cruise the rest of the way.
"I think we came out with a lot more intensity," Chandler said. "We started denying in the lane. Then, we got some deflections, which helped out our defense."
New Orleans began the third on a 16-2 burst, capped by a foul shot by Ryan Bowen with 7:24 left to take a 59-48 advantage.
After Devin Harris made a jumper to cut New Jersey's deficit to 63-58 with 4:22 left in the quarter, an 8-0 spurt by New Orleans put it back up by double digits with 2:33 remaining.
"We had a stretch in the third quarter where we had some bad shots and turned the ball over, and they got out on the break a little bit," Harris said. "We really couldn't recover."
Paul connected with Chandler on two alley-oop dunks in the run to thrill the soldout crowd.
"We knew we could attack them," Scott said. "They did not really have any shot blockers in there, so we wanted to be more aggressive in going into the paint, throwing the ball to Tyson."
New Orleans, which shot 52 percent (38-of-73), beat New Jersey here for the first time since a 106-97 victory on April 2, 2003.
"Our offense kind of stalled," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. "It was a little frustrating. It was pretty much the story of the game."
Jefferson scored 14 of his team-high 27 points in the first quarter and Vince Cater added 19 and 10 assists for the Nets, who shot 49 percent (43-of-87) but have dropped 14 of 16 away from the Meadowlands.
"We didn't give 110 percent," Jefferson said. "We've got to give it all we've got and leave it all out on the court. We didn't do that. They had the fire, and we didn't fight back."
The newly acquired Harris scored 17 points for New Jersey, which is 0-3 on its current Western swing and still has games at powerhouses Dallas and Houston coming up.
NEW JERSEY 96
NEW ORLEANS 107 FINAL
Mar 7 10:16 PM
NEW JERSEY 67
NEW ORLEANS 78 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 7 9:44 PM
NEW JERSEY 46
NEW ORLEANS 43 HALFTIME
Mar 7 9:04 PM
NEW JERSEY 28
NEW ORLEANS 25 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 7 8:34 PM
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