Paul shines as Hornets topple MagicFeb 19, 2009 - 5:53 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Hornets benefited from another great effort from their All-Star point guard against the Orlando Magic, who are still trying to adapt to playing without theirs.
Chris Paul recorded 36 points and 10 assists as the Hornets cruised to a 117-85 triumph over the Magic on Wednesday.
"You have to put this on (Chris Paul)," New Orleans forward David West said. "He came out, he had (26) points in the first half. He had a lot of aggression."
Rasual Butler scored 15 points and West added 14 to help the Hornets win their second straight contest in the wake of learning Tyson Chandler failed his physical with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired the center in a trade on Tuesday.
The botched test effectively voided a swap that had sent Chandler to the Thunder in exchange for forward Joe Smith, center Chris Wilcox and the draft rights to center Devon Hardin.
Scott said he learned of the news only after walking into the locker room. General Manager Jeff Bower broke the news to the team, and many players who had been upset to see Chandler go were pleased by the unusual circumstances that will have him rejoin the team.
"Well, he comes back and we welcome him with open arms," Scott said. "Jeff talked to the team, and he was right on point. The trade was made for us to be a better basketball team and get more depth. The (poor rebounding) stats don't lie, and (Bower) felt he had a right to make the trade.
"I've stated before, the big guys, we were not very happy with them. The game is won in the trenches and we have to do a better job when Tyson gets back."
Scott said he believes Chandler will take the trade attempt in stride and be a big contributor when he rehabs his left ankle completely.
"I think he'll feel fine," Scott said. "Tyson will come in and view it as a second opportunity. Again, the bottom line is we have to continue to get better on the defensive end and be a much better defensive rebounding team.
"That was the thing that got us and (if we don't improve) we're going to continue to struggle as a basketball team."
Though the Hornets were without Chandler in this one, they had no trouble stopping Dwight Howard, who finished with 12 points and was held to just two in the final three quarters.
Rashard Lewis registered 17 points and eight assists while J.J. Redick contributed 14 points for the Magic.
"It was one of those nights a great player just obliterated us," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said of Paul. "You can complain about your defense all you want, but sometimes great players just make you look worse than you are. He was fabulous. He destroyed us."
The Magic suffered their worst setback of the season in falling to 3-3 without All-Star floor general Jameer Nelson, who is out for the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Meanwhile, New Orleans will welcome back Chandler before its game in Los Angeles on Friday, but seemingly did not require his defensive prowess thanks to another sparkling effort from Paul.
"I'm excited to have him back, and hopefully he'll hit the ground running," Paul said. "I think it'll give us a huge lift. Hopefully it will bring us closer together and there won't be any animosity. T.C. is family here, and he understands what's been the goal all along."
The Magic, who fell into a 15-point deficit at the end of the first quarter, shot a porous 37 percent (26-of-70) from the floor and made only 20-of-36 free throws.
Late in the first quarter, Paul had 16 points, three assists and four rebounds, compared to 14 points, four assists and three rebounds combined by Orlando.
Paul shined in the first half, when the Hornets led, 56-43, but fell seven points short of matching his career high of 43, set against Memphis on December 12, 2007.
"Every game here is important to us," Paul said. "We need to pile up the wins, and the only way to do that is to be aggressive. I was talking to (David) West before the game, and we said if we go down, we have to go down fighting."
NEW ORLEANS 117 FINAL
Feb 18 10:35 PM
NEW ORLEANS 86 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 18 10:01 PM
NEW ORLEANS 56 HALFTIME
Feb 18 9:09 PM
NEW ORLEANS 35 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 18 8:38 PM
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