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Paul leaves, Hornets fall apart vs. Blazers

Feb 3, 2009 - 5:02 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- With Chris Paul out of the game, the New Orleans Hornets suddenly become much more vulnerable.

LaMarcus Aldridge collected 22 points and 11 rebounds and Jerryd Bayless chipped in 19 points off the bench as the Portland Trail Blazers used a huge fourth quarter to secure a 97-89 comeback victory over the Hornets on Monday.

The Blazers outscored the Hornets, 42-17, after All-Star point guard Chris Paul went down with a right groin strain late in the third quarter. New Orleans held a 17-point lead when the All-Star went down but could not stop Portland's 38-point fourth quarter.

Paul is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. He appeared to aggravate a groin strain when he slipped entering the lane on a drive against Bayless with 1:30 left in the quarter. He delivered a pass but went down in obvious pain before limping to the locker room.

"I stepped wrong," Paul said before quickly leaving the arena.

Paul actually tweaked his groin about 90 seconds earlier. He pulled up near the sidelines and grabbed the back of his right leg as the Blazers called a timeout with 2:35 left in the third quarter and the Hornets leading, 70-50.

Hornets Coach Byron Scott said Paul told him during the timeout that he had "pulled his groin a little," but they both agreed he would continue playing.

"He said he wanted to stay in," Scott said. "His fear and my fear was that if I take him out and he gets cold, I can't bring him back in. It just so happens my other fear was that if he plays longer, he's probably going to hurt it even worse, and the latter came true."

Scott said, in hindsight, he may not have made the correct decision.

"He wanted to finish out the quarter like he normally does," Scott said. "I gambled and it probably backfired a little bit."

Scott said he would have a better idea of the extent of Paul's injury Tuesday after Paul gets a full medical examination. The Hornets host the Bulls on Wednesday night.

Portland hit nine straight shots at one point in the fourth quarter while New Orleans missed nine in a row. The Blazers outscored the Hornets in the frame, 38-15, en route to their fifth straight win.

"We never gave up, we kept scrapping and defensively we rattled them a little bit," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "Paul's injury changed the momentum, and then all of a sudden, the team gets on a run. It's a domino effect."

David West led the Hornets with 25 points and Paul had 12 and 13 assists before exiting.

"We stopped playing defense," West said. "That's the bottom line. They just had us on our heels."

The one down spot for Portland was the play of star Brandon Roy, who was held to a season-low six points on 2-of-10 shooting.

"They did a good job of packing it in and not letting me get a lot of drives to the paint," Roy said.