for this game

Paul stars as Hornets edge Cavaliers on West's jumper

Mar 27, 2008 - 3:52 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) - In a showdown of MVP candidates, Chris Paul bested LeBron James and helped the New Orleans Hornets snap the Cleveland Cavaliers' nine-game home winning streak.

David West dropped in a 17-foot jumper with sixth-tenths of a second left, on Paul's 20th assist, to give New Orleans a 100-99 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday.

"That's why (Paul) is the best point guard in the league," James said. "We had him bottled up (on the final play), but he has eyes in the back of his head."

The Hornets (49-21) will remain the top team in the Western Conference, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (49-22), who host Charlotte later Wednesday.

Giving the Cavaliers the lead just moments earlier, James picked up Paul on the decisive play, sticking with the point guard on a drive to the lane before Paul kicked it out to a wide-open West.

"It's funny because me and LeBron are like brothers," Paul said. "We talk all the time during the season, so I knew when the fourth quarter came, he was going to start guarding me."

"We talked about staying home because we had some length on Chris Paul, and he hadn't been scoring the ball really well," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.

New Orleans won its fifth straight and ended a six-game losing streak in Cleveland.

Paul scored 15 points and committed just one of his team's eight turnovers. At one point, the New Orleans point guard had 13 assists compared to Cleveland's 12. He fell two shy of the Quicken Loans Arena record of 22 set by Andre Miller.

"(Paul) is breaking all kinds of records this year," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "He didn't have his best stuff offensively from a shooting standpoint (5-of-17), but still was able to direct our offense extremely well and get guys wide-open shots."

James, meanwhile, had given the Cavaliers a 99-98 lead with 7.7 seconds to go on a driving layup. "The King" finished with 21 points and eight assists and has scored at least 20 points in 49 straight games.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a season-high 29 points and added 15 rebounds for Cleveland, which trimmed a 56-50 halftime deficit to two points after three quarters.

Damon Jones buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Cavaliers an 84-81 lead with 6:20 to play. Peja Stojakovic answered with a basket from the arc 18 seconds later to tie the score at 84-84.

Stojakovic sank his sixth 3-pointer of the game to give New Orleans a 94-91 lead with 2:46 left.

After James sank two free throws, Tyson Chandler's putback dunk gave the Hornets a 98-95 lead with 47 seconds left.

But a tip-in by Ilgauskas and James' slashing layup put Cleveland back ahead.

"(The go-ahead basket) was good for us, but we couldn't get a stop," James said. "I just want to win every game."

Paul penetrated the lane and passed back to West, who buried the game-winner. With no timeouts, the Cavaliers were left with a three-quarter court desperation heave.

"We wanted to get them in a pick-and-roll situation," West said. "If (Paul) doesn't get the shot, I'm going to get it. Luckily, it worked out for us. Coach called my number at the end, and I was able to deliver."

"I call David West the '17-foot assassin,'" Paul said. "I knew he would be somewhere behind me."

Stojakovic finished with 25 points and West added 20 and six rebounds for the Hornets.

Behind Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, who also had 15 rebounds, Cleveland hammered New Orleans on the boards by a 48-33 margin, including 17-11 on the offensive end.

"If you look at the stats, we probably should have lost the game," Scott said. "They shoot 50 percent. We shoot 44. They outrebound us by 12 or 13. So, if you look at those two stats, we probably should have lost the game.

"But when we had the ball, we got a pretty good look at it, and we knocked 'em down at key moments."

With the setback, the Cavaliers were swept by the Hornets this season, despite the efforts of Ilgauskas, who had a combined 43 points and 27 rebounds.

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