for this game

Paul powers Hornets past Warriors

Apr 7, 2008 - 5:11 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul may not win the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award this season. But he undoubtedly has been the most pivotal player for the New Orleans Hornets.

Paul recorded his fourth career triple-double Sunday afternoon, collecting 16 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists to lead the Hornets to an impressive 108-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

The 22-year-old Paul paced the Hornets to their 11th straight home win, drawing chants of "MVP!" from the sellout crowd at New Orleans Arena.

"It's an honor," said Paul, considered a front-runner for the league's MVP along with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. "I feel like my team is the MVP. We are having an outstanding year - and if it happens, it happens."

The Hornets improved their overall record to 54-22, matching a single-season franchise record for wins and extending their lead atop the Western Conference standings.

After posting a 39-43 mark last season, New Orleans has been spurred by the stellar play of Paul, who also recorded five steals Sunday to increase his season total to 199 - also a franchise record.

The league leader in assists, Paul once again was the engine for the Hornets, who have won five straight games and 10 of their last 11.

"I think this is a very, very good win for us," Paul said. "We came out aggressive the entire game. We got stops when we needed to, and we did an outstanding job of closing off the lane and making good shots."

David West and Peja Stojakovic each scored 25 points to pace New Orleans, which widened its lead atop the Western standings to 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Lakers (53-24) and the San Antonio Spurs (53-24).

"It's just another good accomplishment for this team," West said. "We're obviously not going to be content with it. Right now it's just all about us trying to get better in these last six games."

"We are trying to win the Western Conference," added reserve Jannero Pargo, who scored all 15 of his points in the second quarter. "Any win that we get right now is big. We are feeling pretty good right now."

Monta Ellis scored 35 points for the Warriors (46-31), who entered the matinee contest tied with the Denver Nuggets for the conference's eighth and final postseason berth.

Despite trailing throughout the second half, Golden State reeled off a 12-0 run early in the fourth quarter to forge a 90-90 tie with eight minutes remaining. Ellis scored six points during the surge and capped the outburst with a soaring dunk.

But Paul drilled a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, sparking an 18-4 run and giving the Hornets the lead for good.

"(Making 3-pointers) is a huge impact," Paul said. "I think Golden State will be one of the first teams to tell you that, because every night they shoot a lot of threes and they make a lot of them. I think we got very lucky tonight that they weren't too hot."

The Warriors clawed within 96-92 on Ellis' layup with 6:21 left.

However, Golden State would get no closer, as Paul closed out his sensational performance by helping New Orleans score on three straight possessions.

After assisting on a pair of made jumpers by West, Paul stole the ball from fellow star point guard Baron Davis and drove for an uncontested layup, extending the lead to 102-92 with 4:45 left.

"We just started coming over and helping," Paul said. "Early in the game, they were running a lot of ball screens and beating us, but we started getting over and cutting off the lane."

Stojakovic drained a 3-pointer one minute later to put the contest out of reach.

Ellis shot 17-of-26 from the floor and reached the 30-point mark for the 12th time this season.

"My play was all right, but it would have felt better if we had gotten the win," said Ellis, who also grabbed 10 rebounds. "My shot just was going down tonight. I took the smart ones and I drove to the basket and that was it."

Golden State led by as many as 12 in the second quarter before falling to 1-3 on its four-game road trip.

Davis scored 17 points and dished out eight assists while Andris Biedrins added 17 and 15 rebounds for the Warriors, who shot just 3-of-29 from the arc.

"I have no problem with the effort," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "I have a problem with the some of the shot selections. We were shooting too many threes when the ball's not going - too many early threes."

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