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Paul lifts Hornets past lowly Kings

Feb 24, 2009 - 7:07 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- Chris Paul and the struggling New Orleans Hornets got just what they needed to regain their winning ways on Monday. A game against the Sacramento Kings.

Paul scored 27 points and added 13 assists to lead the Hornets to a 112-105 victory.

New Orleans had dropped eight of its last 12, but got enough from Paul and David West to avoid going winless on its three-game road trip.

"It was very important. We had lost two tough games in LA and Utah. To get another win under our belt is big," Paul said. "Hopefully we can go back home and keep this going."

West added 24 points and came up with a pair of big blocks in the closing minutes for the Hornets.

Kevin Martin scored 32 points, including 24 in the fourth quarter for Sacramento.

The Hornets led 84-74 after three, but the Kings got back in the game with a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter.

"I just didn't think we came out with the same intensity in the second half," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "(Sacramento) got any shot they wanted, they got to the basket. And it was just a carryover for the rest of the half.

"We've got to be a little more mature as a basketball team and understand that we had that team down. If we would have came out and got into a real aggressive basketball game to start the third quarter then it might have been a different story."

Paul scored 12 of his points in the final quarter, including consecutive jumpers that gave New Orleans a 99-91 lead with about six minutes to go.

Martin kept the Kings in the game and hit a 3-pointer to make it 106-102 with 2:12 to play. Paul answered with a bucket in the lane and West came up with a block on Andres Nocioni on the other end.

"We let Kevin Martin get going, he was really getting to the free throw line and really

doing some things we couldn't deal with," West said. "But we were able to hold on, make some stops and make some stops down the stretch."

Nocioni scored 19 points off the bench for the Kings, who have the league's worst record (12-46) and are 2-8 this month.

"It didn't end the way we wanted, but the guys did fight back after getting down 15," Kings coach Kenny Natt said. "We were challenging guys. They decided to step up and really play better defense and get out to the 3-point shooters in the second half."

After a rare turnover by Paul on a drive, West came up with another block and Paul made two free throws to push the lead to 110-102 with 32 seconds remaining.

Tyson Chandler scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets and added 10 rebounds after missing the previous 16 games with a sprained left ankle. New Orleans went 7-9 with Chandler out and tried to trade him to Oklahoma City but the trade was nullified after Chandler failed a physical.

"He looked great. I know he got tired in the first half, probably just nervous energy just getting back in. But I thought he played fantastic, he ran the floor well," Scott said. "Obviously he was still a little rusty, five turnovers showed that, but as a whole I thought he was great."