for this game

Paul nails game-winning three as Hornets edge Pacers

Jan 20, 2009 - 12:34 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets apparently took the message from their coach to heart.

Paul drilled a 3-pointer as time expired Monday, lifting the Hornets to a dramatic 103-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

New Orleans posted its second straight win since being called out by coach Byron Scott, who criticized his team after Friday's 92-78 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, saying that it was playing without the drive of a championship team.

Paul, for his part, had that killer instinct in this one.

"I wanted no parts of overtime tonight," Paul said. "Peja (Stojakovic) said he didn't want no parts of overtime. I'm sure (James) Posey didn't want no parts of overtime. So, it was really good for us to win it in regulation."

Paul collected 27 points and nine assists and Stojakovic added 26 points for the Hornets, who responded to Danny Granger's game-tying shot from the arc just seconds before the winning three.

Granger tied the game at 100-100 with 2.5 ticks left, when he took a dribble hand-off from Jarrett Jack and nailed a 3-pointer with Rasual Butler's hand in his face.

After a timeout, Paul quickly dribbled to the right wing and uncorked a fadeaway 3-pointer, which was open thanks to Indiana's notoriously lackadaisical defense.

"The funny thing about it is, as soon as Granger made his shot, (Paul) walked over to me and said, 'Coach I need the ball, just let me have it,'" Scott said.

"So, I just tried to draw up a play where I could give him a little space try to get him a quick little switch, which they did, and he was able to get it off."

It was the latest star-studded performance from Paul, who leads the NBA in assists (11.1) and steals (2.8). But it did not come without some adversity.

The Hornets built a 97-92 lead with 1:16 left, when Paul passed out of a double-team and found Butler, who nailed a baseline jumper. The bucket came after Granger had blown a layup on the other end and seemed to take the air out of the Pacers.

Indiana, however, came storming back thanks to its backcourt, which rattled off five quick points.

Jack hit a three and T.J. Ford picked up a steal and transition layup to tie the game at 97-97 with 46 ticks left. Paul dribbled the ball off Ford's foot to ignite the break.

Melvin Ely then made 1-of-2 free throws with 26 seconds left, allowing the Pacers a chance to go ahead on the ensuing possession. Ford, however, dribbled the ball out of bounds with 7.6 remaining.

Paul hit two free throws to forge a three-point lead for New Orleans, setting up the wild final sequence.

Stojakovic notched his first 20-point game since coming back from a back injury on December 28 - ironically, against Indiana. However, he gave the credit to Paul.

"He's a guy that is capable of making those kind of shots," the sharpshooter said. "It was a huge game for us."

Granger scored 30 points for the Pacers, who had their brief two-game winning streak snapped with another close loss.

"There is no doubt (Granger) is a 100 percent All-Star," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "He does this about every game. He is the fourth leading scorer in the league.

"Over the last 15 games, he is averaging 32.0 points a game. He is a great player. How he can be left off the All-Star team? I have no idea how that can happen."

Despite Granger's play, three of Indiana's last four defeats have come back three points or less.

"Our shooter made a three and their shooter hit one to counter," O'Brien said. "It was a great shot, both of them. What are you going to do? We lost a tough game tonight."