for this game

Paul does it all as Hornets sting 76ers

Jan 27, 2009 - 7:04 AM By Peter Finney PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul was at his spread-the-wealth, scintillating best, and Peja Stojakovic took full advantage.

Stojakovic drilled five consecutive 3-pointers in the first 3:24 of the final quarter and Paul recorded his NBA-high fifth triple-double of the season to power the New Orleans Hornets to a 101-86 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night at the New Orleans Arena.

Stojakovic's 15-point flurry broke open a 69-63 game and gave the Hornets (27-14) an 84-68 lead with 8:36 left. Stojakovic finished with 26 points, including 17 in the final quarter, as the Hornets won at home for the 12th time in their last 14 games.

"He's the best shooter I've ever had the opportunity to play with," Paul said of Stojakovic, who scored more than 20 points for the third consecutive game. "Peja is unbelievable, especially in a scramble situation."

Paul had 27 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and added seven steals in a performance made even more impressive by the Hornets' hobbled frontcourt. Paul made all 12 foul shots.

Stojakovic could have had a sixth 3-pointer in the final quarter, but he failed to get it off just before the 24-second clock expired.

"When he hit the fifth one, I even sat over there and said, 'Wow,'" Hornets Coach Byron Scott said. "I don't think any of them even hit the rim. That fifth one (from the right wing) was pretty much big time. We were on a roll, but he was shooting it like he was shooting in practice the other day."

After his fifth three-pointer barely caused the net to flutter, the crowd went crazy but Stojakovic kept his poker face.

"I knew Philadelphia was an explosive team, and you can't get too excited," Stojakovic said. "Most of the game they didn't want to leave me, but in the fourth quarter they scrambled on the defensive end. It was fun."

Stojakovic credited his breakout fourth quarter to Paul's ability to penetrate the lane at will and kick the ball out to him. Even reserve center Ryan Bowen fed him with a pass from out of the post and keyed another Stojakovic three by keeping the ball alive after a missed jumper.

"When they started trapping, that's what we live for, because we have so many shooters," Paul said. "When they spread and we're making shots like that, we're tough to beat."

Rasual Butler and James Posey, who finished with 13 points apiece for the Hornets, each nailed three from long range. Although the Sixers dominated the Hornets inside with a 56-26 advantage in the paint, Philadelphia was just 2-of-14 from the arc and went just 12-of-20 from the line.

The Hornets, meanwhile, made 19-of-21 free throws.

Until All-Star forward David West went down with a bad back and starting center Tyson Chandler was sidelined with a severely sprained ankle, Stojakovic seemed to struggle with his shot, never looking comfortable even when he had wide open looks.

"The key is to continue being aggressive," Stojakovic said. "Some nights your shots are not going to go in, but I have to keep being aggressive and finding a way to be productive even if I'm not shooting the ball well."

The Sixers got 22 points from Thaddeus Young and 19 from Andre Miller, but it was not nearly enough.

"Peja made some great shots," said Sixers forward Andre Iguodala, who scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half when Philadelphia led 47-40. "He's a great shooter, and he got some good shots on fast breaks. (Paul) is a great point guard. We just couldn't stop him."

West has missed the last four games with back spasms and Chandler has missed the last three with his ankle sprain. West is not expected back until next week at the earliest, and Chandler will be out longer.

That forces the Hornets to change their approach since they can't be expected to muscle teams close to the basket.

"We've won three out of four without two of those guys," Scott said. "It's the ultimate challenge. You have to step up with those guys out. We're not making any excuses."