Houston at New Orleans

Hornets, Paul pick up crucial win for playoff hopes

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tyson Chandler raised his arms in the air, savoring the moment as the Hornets finally sealed a win against a playoff-bound foe with Desmond Mason's dunk.

Chris Paul scored 28 points, David West added 23 and Mason put the finishing touches on New Orleans' game-ending run as the Hornets pulled away late for a 106-94 win Sunday night against the Houston Rockets.

Chandler held both arms over his head to celebrate Mason's dunk, then pointed one finger to the ceiling as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock. A sellout crowd came to its feet and joined in by twirling white rally towels.

"It was a great feeling to sort of know we had sealed the deal," Paul said. "We didn't have to grit it out too much. It was just a great team effort."

New Orleans finished the game on a 13-3 run, punctuated by Mason's steal and dunk in the final minute.

It was New Orleans' first win against a Western Conference playoff team since Feb. 7 against Denver and moved the Hornets within two games of the idle Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Following a six-game losing streak, the Hornets have won four of six games.

"It's a big step in the right direction, but it's one game," said Paul, who had a career-high four 3-pointers. "We've got to continue to do this the rest of the season."

Tracy McGrady scored 31 points to lead Houston, which had a five-game winning streak snapped. Yao Ming added 16 points, Luther Head scored 15 off the bench and Rafer Alston had 12.

Mason scored 19 points, and Chandler had 14 points and 10 rebounds while allowing Yao to make only one of his final 11 shots.

"You just try to wear him down," Chandler said. "I just take it minute by minute, quarter by quarter and put as much pressure on him as possible to make him work defensively, make him box me out, sprint for no reason to make him run, just hope it wears on his legs and come the third and fourth quarters his shots come up short."

The Rockets led 57-45 in the opening minute of the second half, after what ended up being Yao's next-to-last basket. The 7-foot-6 All-Star felt he settled for too many jump shots.

"I believe I can make those shots, but not today," Yao said. "I don't know what happened. I just kept missing."

The Hornets eliminated the 12-point deficit with a 21-7 run, and Paul's right-handed runner in the lane gave New Orleans its first lead at 66-64 with 3:03 left in the third quarter. His 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left in the period gave New Orleans a 75-73 lead, and the Hornets added the first four points of the fourth quarter to finish off a 9-0 run.

They wouldn't trail again -- thanks in large part to West and Paul, who teamed up to score 18 of the Hornets' final 25 points.

Houston got within one point on five occasions in the fourth quarter, but could never pull ahead. Paul protected the one-point lead the final time with his three-point play that gave New Orleans a 93-89 lead with 3:21 remaining.

McGrady followed with another driving layup, but West answered with a right-hander in the lane that started the game-ending run.

The Hornets scored the final nine points, beginning with Chandler's putback of a Mason miss. Paul hit a fadeaway jumper over Alston, and Rasual Butler added a 3-pointer from the right corner before Mason's dunk set off the Hornets' third sellout crowd in as many home games - two in Oklahoma City and one in New Orleans.

"Every game for us is a huge game," Chandler said.


  • Houston G Bob Sura, inactive all season after knee surgery, turned 34 on Sunday. On his birthday three years ago, he scored 23 points and had a career-best 15 rebounds for Atlanta in a win over New Orleans.
  • Hornets coach Byron Scott said he's now hoping G Peja Stojakovic (back), out since November, could return Saturday for a game against New York. He said G Bobby Jackson could "maybe" return Wednesday at San Antonio and "probably" Saturday.
  • A white board in the Hornets' locker room that had been wiped clean at midseason had the conference standings back on it Sunday. "I want them to see it. We're still right there," Scott said.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Chris Paul, who scores 28 points for the Hornets, says goodbye to Houston defender Shane Battier.  (AP)
Chris Paul, who scores 28 points for the Hornets, says goodbye to Houston defender Shane Battier. (AP)
Houston (44-26) 3022212194
NO/Okla. City (32-38) «20243131106
HOU:T. McGrady 31 Pts
HOU:C. Hayes 8 Reb
HOU:T. McGrady 6 Ast
NO:C. Paul 28 Pts
NO:T. Chandler 10 Reb
NO:C. Paul 5 Ast
Players of the Game
New OrleansHouston

C. Paul

T. McGrady

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Y. Ming, C377-222-272416
T. McGrady, SG3612-206-956031
R. Alston, PG364-100-023312
S. Battier, SF353-80-02128
C. Hayes, PF262-30-08224
L. Head, SG286-150-020215
J. Howard, PF211-32-24234
K. Snyder, SF122-40-04214
J. Tsakalidis, C100-00-01010
D. Mutombo, CDid Not Play
B. Sura, PGDid Not Play
B. Wells, SGDid Not Play
V. Spanoulis, PGDid Not Play
J. Lucas, PGDid Not Play
S. Novak, PFDid Not Play
Totals 37-8510-1335181894
New Orleans
D. Mason, SF389-171-131119
D. West, PF389-165-553223
T. Chandler, C376-112-4101214
C. Paul, PG3610-154-455028
R. Butler, SG333-62-26109
D. Brown, SG230-40-03230
J. Pargo, PG143-80-02107
M. Jackson, PF132-62-26016
H. Armstrong, C70-20-03000
L. Johnson, SF40-00-00000
B. Jackson, PGDid Not Play
P. Stojakovic, SGDid Not Play
B. Bass, PFDid Not Play
C. Simmons, PFDid Not Play
M. Vinicius, SFDid Not Play
Totals 42-8516-1843149106
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Dal 104 Final
Atl 97
Chi 92 Final
Ind 90
Det 121 Final
Mil 95
Pho 100 Final
Sac 107
Port 93 Final
Min 94
Den 105 Final
Cle 93
SA 120 Final
Sea 79
GS 113 Final
LAL 115