for this game

Paul stars as Hornets buzz Mavericks

Jan 15, 2009 - 5:40 AM By John Tranchina PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DALLAS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul did it all as the New Orleans Hornets topped the Dallas Mavericks, 104-97, on Wednesday.

The point guard recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 33 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and seven steals and New Orleans broke open a tight game with a 17-8 run in the fourth quarter. James Posey ignited the surge with five straight points.

"Every night I just try to take what the defense gives me, and tonight they were going under ball screens and forcing me to shoot, so that's what I had to do," Paul said.

New Orleans coach Byron Scott gushed about his star floor general.

"He was amazing," Scott said of Paul. "I think everybody in the league knows how good he is and how special of a player he is. You don't expect a triple-double every night and you don't expect him to have seven steals either, but it was one of those games where he was all over the place.

"He made some big plays on both ends of the floor to get us this 'W,' but again, that's the type of player he is. He's a very special player."

With the score tied at 81-81, Posey hit a shot from beyond the arc and followed with a pair of free throws to put New Orleans in front for good.

"Posey hit a three and that got us going," Paul said. "We're one of those teams that, usually when we get that lead, we usually don't give it back."

"We were very active on defense in the second half," Posey said. "We were able to get some steals and get some easy buckets. We focused on getting stops. We had active hands and were aggressive."

Paul scored 10 of the Hornets' final 12 points to keep them comfortably in front, as the Mavericks had no answer for the gifted guard.

He hit a 19-foot jumper to make it 94-87, followed with two layups, the second coming after he stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and took off on a fast break to put New Orleans up 98-89 with 3:32 to go.

"David West is the guy that actually made that play," said Paul, who added four more free throws down the stretch. "We went over that play in shootaround. When Dirk came off, D-West bodied him up, so when he got in the air, I knew that was the only place he could pass it, so I anticipated it and shot the gap.

"Chris Paul is great," Nowitzki said. "We didn't really want to double-team him that much and leave their shooters open. He took that freedom and killed us. If you get the ball out of his hands, then you leave the shooters open or you can let him beat you. He beat us today."

Jason Terry tried to keep pace with Paul, hitting a shot from beyond the arc and a driving dunk but the rest of the Mavericks provided little support.

"He got into passing lanes and we were careless with the ball," Terry said of Paul. "He leads the league in steals for a reason. You've got to be careful. Give him credit, they got steals and turned the game in their favor."

In their first meeting since the Hornets unceremoniously dispatched the Mavericks in five games in the first round of last spring's playoffs, New Orleans snapped a 13-game, regular-season losing streak in Dallas that dated to January 24, 1998.

Terry paced the Mavericks with 28 points off the bench, while Nowitzki added 20 along with 13 rebounds, one night after a 44-point performance against the Nuggets.

"Dallas has a lot of talent offensively and in the past, we have struggled with containing Terry," West said. "But that fourth quarter came down and we were able to get some stops."

The Mavericks, coming off an 0-3 road trip, including a 99-97 loss in Denver on Tuesday, had a five-game home winning streak snapped and have lost four straight overall.

"We've got to fight back from this," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've just got to battle. We went through something like this, very similar, earlier in the year and the only way you dig out of these is as a group and as a team."

The Hornets opened the contest on fire, jumping to a 12-4 lead in the opening 2:44 before the Mavericks stormed back with a 17-4 run to go up by five on Terry's basket with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

After a 6-0 run by the Hornets turned a seven-point Mavericks' lead into a 27-26 advantage, Terry hit a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to give Dallas a four-point edge going into the second quarter.

"I thought the first quarter, we were really soft," Scott said. "Dirk got any shot he wanted, Jason Terry got wide open looks, it just seemed like everybody was getting wide-open looks, so I thought in the second half we did a much better job of being a little more aggressive and closing down and taking away some of their air space."

The Mavs maintained a healthy lead throughout the second, going up 47-40 on Nowitzki's bucket with 4:33 left, but New Orleans responded with a 7-0 run over the next 1:15 to tie the game for the first time since midway through the first quarter.

"We played well enough in the first half, but they stepped up their defense and you have to give them credit," Nowitzki said.

Dallas restored its lead, however, and took a 56-51 lead into halftime after Antoine Wright nailed a 3-pointer from the baseline with one minute remaining. The Hornets battled back and finally regained the lead, going up 63-61 four minutes into the third quarter on Paul's shot.

The game swung back and forth for the rest of the quarter and headed into the fourth tied at 79-79.

The Hornets' starting five outscored the Mavericks' first unit, 81-53.

Tyson Chandler posted a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Peja Stojakovic and David West each scored 16 points as New Orleans shot 42-of-85 (49 percent) from the field.