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01-06-2010, 09:51 AM #1
Paul caps late comeback in Hornets' win
Chris Paul stole the Utah Jazz's comeback hopes and eased the New Orleans Hornets' road frustration.
With a four-point lead in danger of being cut in half, Paul stole the ball, ate a little time and then drove for a layup with 27 seconds left to help seal New Orleans' 91-87 victory over Utah on Monday night.
It was just the third road win for the Hornets this season and their first in Utah in almost four years.
"It's big for us, especially with how terrible we've played on the road this year," said Paul, who had 12 points, nine assists and three steals. "Hopefully this gives us the confidence and gives us the ability to realize that we are a good team and that we can win on the road."
The Hornets are 3-13 away from home this season and hadn't won here since Paul and Utah point guard Deron Williams were rookies in February 2006.
Teammates on the U.S. gold medal team in the 2008 Olympics, Paul anticipated a pass from Williams in the final minute and grabbed it just seconds after Williams had done the same thing at the other end. Paul's layup put the Hornets ahead 88-82 and that was all New Orleans needed.
"I think we showed a lot of grit, poise and we fought hard to win this game," Paul said.
Devin Brown, who played the 2005-06 season in Utah, added a career-high 30 points and David West had 20 points and nine rebounds to help the Hornets end a four-game road losing streak.
It was New Orleans' third straight win overall and got the club back to .500 at 16-16.
"We have to get a nice little win streak and this is an opportunity," Brown said. "January has to be our moving month and this is a great way to start off."
James Posey scored 12 points for the Hornets, who outscored Utah 25-11 in the third quarter and never let the Jazz regain the lead.
Williams had 17 points and 11 assists, but his milestone evening ended in disappointment. Williams needed eight assists to reach 3,000 for his career, but his final turnover on a pass to Andrei Kirilenko stung much more than the accomplishment.
"He made a great anticipation," Williams said of Paul. "I should have thrown it up to Andrei high. He's a lot taller than Chris. It was a bad pass by me."
Carlos Boozer added 18 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, which has lost three straight. Kirilenko and C.J. Miles added 15 points apiece for the Jazz.
New Orleans had a sloppy first half and trailed by four, but flustered the Jazz in the third quarter. Utah was 5-for-20 from the field in the period and never recovered.
"I thought across the board defensively in the third quarter we really worked hard," New Orleans coach Jeff Bower said. "It was a really strong quarter for us."
West hit a 14-footer to put New Orleans up 81-79, breaking the last tie of the game, and starting a 7-0 run. Brown followed with a three-pointer, then after another miss by the Jazz, Paul pulled up for a jumper that put the Hornets up 86-79 with 2:13 left.
Utah called a timeout and Miles made it 86-82 with a three-pointer. The Jazz had a chance to get closer when Williams stole the ball in the lane, but Paul stole it right back.
The Jazz led 51-47 at halftime, then opened the third quarter 1-of-13 from the field as the Hornets pulled ahead for their first lead on a 13-four run. Brown hit a three-pointer to tie it at 53, then after a miss by Williams, Brown drew a foul and made both free throws to give New Orleans its first lead at 55-53 with 6:54 left in the third.
The Hornets also closed the period on a 9-5 run, which stood at 9-2 until Williams hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to get Utah within 69-62.
Williams got a standing ovation when it was announced during a timeout in the third quarter that he had 3,000 assists, making him just the fourth Jazz player to reach the milestone. John Stockton, who holds the NBA record with 15,806, Karl Malone and Rickey Green are the others.