SEATTLE -- Short of being a consistently winning team, the Seattle SuperSonics have still found a way to turn their oft-trashed home court into a house of horrors for opponents.
Ankles had better beware.
Luke Ridnour had 27 points and nine assists Tuesday night to lead the SuperSonics to a 102-94 victory over the limping New Orleans Hornets, who lost Rookie of the Year Chris Paul indefinitely to a sprained ankle in the first quarter.
Last week, Dallas All-Star Dirk Nowitzki sprained his ankle on the same floor at KeyArena -- but did not miss any games.
Paul, the fourth Hornets key player now injured, is going to be out at least two and perhaps four games, according to New Orleans coach Byron Scott.
"Right now we've got to re-evaluate the next couple days and see if the swelling goes down," Scott said. "For sure, he's out (Wednesday at Portland). And he'll probably be out the Denver game (Friday in Oklahoma City), as well."
Scott said his "best-case" scenario for Paul returning would be for the Jan. 2 home game against Golden State. Paul refused comment while awkwardly exiting the arena on crutches.
Chris Wilcox added a season high-tying 22 points for the Sonics, who outscored New Orleans 30-22 in the decisive final quarter. Wilcox said he, too, sprained his right ankle when crashing hard into the basket standard while missing an alley-oop lay in late in the game.
"Put an ankle brace on it and it will be all right," for Thursday's game at Denver, Wilcox said, describing what may become pre-emptive player gear for future games in Seattle.
Ray Allen had 21 points and a season-best eight assists for the Sonics, who won for the second consecutive time following a six-game losing streak.
Allen's 10 points led Seattle out of a 72-all tie after three quarters. The All-Star was 3-for-4 in the decisive period, after 4-for-11 shooting in three quarters spent largely feeding open teammates for scores.
"We've been too individualistic on offense in the fourth quarter. There's been no flow to our offense," said Allen. "That really didn't happen tonight."
His 3-pointer with 5:15 to go put Seattle back up 87-86. Allen then converted a turnover by Tyson Chandler into a dunk by rookie Mickael Gelabale.
Gelabale then swatted Chandler's shot underneath into the Sonics bench. After Pargo briefly retied the game with a 3, Gelabale followed his own miss to give the Sonics the lead for good, 91-89 with 3:50 remaining and end the French native's impressive spurt.
Ridnour then swished a 3-pointer for his 11th make in 17 shots to put Seattle up 99-91 with 1:20 left. That essentially ended the game.
Though beaten-down, the Hornets still had sting. They rebounded from a 35-point home loss to San Antonio on Saturday by jumping to a 10-point lead in the first quarter. New Orleans remained in front or within four points of the lead after Paul got hurt -- until Seattle's late surge.
Paul had six points and seven of the Hornets' eight assists in the opening period. He turned the ankle while landing his foot onto the left foot of Seattle center Johan Petro in the open floor on a Hornets' fast break with 1:18 left in the first quarter. Paul hopped through the lane and then collapsed beyond the baseline while screaming "Ohhh!" repeatedly and grabbing his ankle.
After a few moments on his back, Paul was carried directly into the nearby visitors' locker room by Chandler. The Hornets announced at halftime that X-rays were negative.
Without Paul -- plus injured Peja Stojakovic (back surgery), Bobby Jackson (cracked left rib) and David West (right elbow) -- New Orleans is missing 65 of the NBA-low 90 points it was averaging entering Tuesday.
Is it a silver lining that Paul may be back by next week? Nope, Scott saw only more black.
"There's never a best-case scenario with C.P. being out," Scott said. "Him missing a (single) game is going to hurt us, obviously."
- Wilcox, who signed a $24 million, three-year contract in August, had 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season.
- Scott uncharacteristically received a technical foul after talking with an official coming out of halftime. After being assessed the "T," Scott simply smiled at the referees and then clapped to encourage his team.
- Chandler, the NBA's fifth-leading rebounder at 11.7 per game coming in, had 11 rebounds and 14 points.