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Paul's 19 points help Hornets edge Magic

Apr 2, 2008 - 4:29 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- In a tight, taught contest, Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets came out on top.

Paul had 19 points and 12 assists as the Hornets edged the Orlando Magic, 98-97, on Tuesday.

Fellow All-Star David West had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Morris Peterson scored 19 - including five 3-pointers - for New Orleans, which has won two straight and seven of eight overall.

"We go as (Paul) goes," West said. "Even nights Chris is struggling we have a talented group of guys that are hungry and understand the way to play the game. But we follow his lead first and foremost."

Peja Stojakovic scored six of his 10 points in the final 65 seconds for the Hornets (51-22), who remain in a virtual tie with the San Antonio Spurs (52-23) at the top of Western Conference. San Antonio defeated the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 26 points and dished seven assists and All-Star Dwight Howard had 17 and 15 boards for Orlando, which has dropped four of six here to New Orleans.

The Hornets trailed by as many as 14 points after the break after Rashard Lewis drilled a shot from the arc 57 seconds into the third to give the Magic a 59-45 advantage.

However, New Orleans went on a 14-4 spurt late in the third and into the final period to take a 78-76 lead 36 seconds into the fourth. Paul, who collected his 48th double-double of the season, had seven points in the burst.

"I realized early in the game it was not about good shooting percentages," said Paul, who connected on just 6-of-19 from the field, including 0-of-4 from the arc. "We just had to grind it out and get the win. Guys had to make plays when we needed to."

The lead changed hands seven times in the final period until Keyon Dooling's slam dunk and a 3-pointer by Maurice Evans gave the Magic a 95-92 lead with 1:30 left.

Stojakovic took over from there, nailing a technical free throw with 1:05 remaining before his shot from the arc put the Hornets ahead, 96-95, with 54 ticks on the clock.

"I had a really bad night overall," said Stojakovic, who connected on just 2-of-11 from the floor but hit the one that counted most. "I just wanted to stay in the game in the second half and be aggressive. When the coach called the play for me, I was ready. You have to give yourself a chance."

"I thought Peja's three was big," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "He was 1-of-10 for the night and boom. I just had a feeling. It's just one of those things where sometimes you have a feeling, and I knew Peja was due."

The 30-year-old Stojakovic then made two more foul shots with 12 seconds left to increase the lead to three.

Turkoglu's dunk sliced Orlando's deficit to 98-97 with six seconds remaining but, after Paul clanked two foul shots, Dooling missed jumper as time expired - giving New Orleans the win.

"I think my teammates know how mad I was for missing those two (free throws)," said Paul, who had missed just one of his previous eight free throws. "I always want the ball in that situation. I understand I have to make those shots. But we knew we were still winning and, if we came out and got a stop, that would be in the past."

Lewis, who netted 24 points, was the initial option on the last shot of the game for the Magic, but was forced to pass off as the clock wound down.

"I wanted to be aggressive, go to the basket and draw some kind of contact," said Lewis, who passed to Dooling after taking the inbounds pass on the final possession.

"Suddenly, I was looking at four guys as I drove to the basket. So, I kicked it out to try and get a better shot."

The Hornets outrebounded the Magic, 51-30, and held a huge 21-2 edge on the offensive boards. New Orleans had six players grab at least six rebounds.

"We have to do a better job as team to help Dwight," said Turkoglu, who grabbed five rebounds. "We just can't let him get all the rebounds. The Hornets did a good job of getting offensive rebounds. They were the team at the right time at the right place."

"I thought the No. 1 factor for us was 21 offensive rebounds by them," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "They really outworked us on the glass, and that's very, very hard to overcome."

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