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Paul's layup helps Hornets overcome Durant, Thunder

Feb 18, 2009 - 6:59 AM OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Chris Paul's spinning layup in the lane with 2.7 seconds left lifted the New Orleans Hornets to Tuesday's 100-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who got a career-high 47 points from Kevin Durant.

David West collected 37 points and 13 rebounds and Paul finished with 21 and eight assists for the Hornets, who snapped a two-game slide.

After Durant knotted the game at 98-98 with a turnaround 3-pointer from the wing with 13 seconds left, New Orleans inbounded to Paul, who drove up the court and straight down the middle of the lane before spinning and scooping a layup off the glass to clinch the win.

"We knew that Durant was going to get the ball in that situation," West said. "He is their go-to guy and we knew he was going to take that shot. We wanted to foul him to prevent a tie but he has such a quick release, we couldn't get to him in time. When he scored that, we thought we were going to have a chance to get a good look. (Paul) got to the rim and he put it in."

"We knew that Durant's three wasn't going to kill us," Paul said. "We didn't want to call timeout to give them time to set up - we've been in that situation too many times. So me and West looked at each other and knew we were going to go ball screen and try to win the game. I was able to drive in and get a tough shot."

The Hornets led, 78-71, at the beginning of the fourth quarter before Durant took over, scoring all 12 points during a 12-4 run that pulled the Thunder ahead, 83-82, with 9:52 left in the game.

"We started off very slow, but I think we did a great job of fighting back," Durant said. "They fought harder than we did at the end, and they have the best point guard in the world, and he made big plays at the end. Chris Paul and David West made great plays, that's what All-Stars do."

Neither team led by more than two points until West scored on back-to-back possessions to give New Orleans a 98-95 edge with 57 seconds left.

"I'm pretty comfortable in this building," West said. "This was a big win for us, this is exactly what we wanted to do coming out of the All-Star Break. Maybe not in this fashion, but a win is a win."

Durant, fresh off an All-Star weekend that saw him go off for 46 points in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge and win the H-O-R-S-E competition, scored 21 of Oklahoma City's 27 points in the fourth quarter and finished 16-of-27 from the field.

"Every time I step on the floor it is an exciting game for me, especially when we are playing one of the best teams in the league," Durant said. "I hit three or four in a row, and I just wanted to keep being aggressive and get the lead. I tried to get to the rack and to get fouled and if I had an open shot, take it. I didn't want to shoot it every time down the floor, but I was open so often I had to take it. It's a good position to be in, but I'd rather have the win."

"He is going to be one of the really, really good players in this league for years to come," Hornets coach Byron Scott said of Durant. "Forty-seven-point games just don't fall out of the sky. (The Thunder have) got a good thing going."

Jeff Green, who scored the other six points in the fourth, finished with 24 points and seven rebounds for the Thunder, who shot just 6-of-23 from 3-point range.

The teams completed a trade prior to the game, with the Hornets sending Tyson Chandler to Oklahoma City for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox, though none of the players involved played in Tuesday's contest.

"We had to come out and take care of business tonight," Scott said. "We had a lot of room for distraction with the trade of Tyson Chandler, coming back to Oklahoma City, first game after the All-Star Break. But we came out hot and really put the pressure back on the Thunder."