NEW ORLEANS -- The Boston Celtics' recent dominance of the powerful Western Conference ended at the hands of an All-Star fittingly named West.
"We're confident in what we can do and we make sure, regardless if we're up, if we're down, that we play the same way and hopefully that consistency can carry us through to wins," West said. "Guys had to make shots. We're playing from behind just about the whole game, dealing with a team like Boston that we know is so good."
"Regardless of who we're playing, if we buckle down on defense at that crucial point, we'll be able to pull it out."
Chris Paul, despite playing only 29 minutes because of foul trouble, had 19 points and hit a pair of clutch jumpers in the waning minutes as New Orleans added a win over the mighty Celtics to recent triumphs over San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston.
The Celtics came in riding a four-game winning streak that included a three-game swing through Texas, with wins over San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.
Paul Pierce had 16 of his 28 points in the first quarter and the Celtics shot better than 60 percent and led by double digits until well into the third.
But Boston seemed to tire in the fourth as New Orleans surged to its ninth straight victory at home while stopping Boston's road winning streak at eight.
"We definitely had our opportunities, had our big early lead, but we couldn't get stops tonight for some reason," Pierce said. "We just played lackadaisical (in the fourth quarter). You've got to give them some credit. ... Their bench did a great job coming in and giving them a spark, with Jannero Pargo and Bonzi Wells."
Wells had 12 points and eight steals, six in the fourth quarter to set a franchise record and help New Orleans hold Boston to 17 points.
Boston committed 21 turnovers, leading to 32 Hornets points.
"Guys were really helping each other," Wells said. "We played really no defense for most of three quarters and in the fourth quarter we made a conscious effort to understand what their sets are. We don't see teams like this often, so we kind of calmed down in the fourth quarter and got stops."
Pargo had 15 points and six assists in 21 minutes, helping New Orleans surge into the lead while Paul was on the bench early in the fourth quarter.
"David West single-handedly destroyed us, but Pargo was the most important player on their team," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "They had their leader off the floor, and they actually cut the lead, got the lead, with him off the floor, and that's the time we should have stretched the lead and we didn't."
Pierce's double-pump driving layup through a crowd just as time expired gave Boston an 89-81 lead after three.
Foul trouble kept Paul on the bench to open the final period, but the Hornets rallied behind Pargo, who hit a 3 and a jumper on consecutive possessions to cut Boston's lead to 91-90.
After P.J. Brown's block sent Ray Allen away for a fast-break layup, New Orleans buckled down on defense, holding Boston scoreless for more than five minutes.
During that span, West's fast-break dunk put New Orleans up 94-93 with 6:12 to go for the Hornets' first lead since 6-5. West then hit a jumper off the glass and a driving floater as he was fouled, capping a 9-0 run that made it 99-93.
Boston cut it to 104-101 on Rajon Rondo's driving floater over the 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler. But Paul, coming up big when it mattered as he has all season, responded with a 3. With the crowd on its feet and in a frenzy, Boston could not recover.
"C.P. was struggling a little bit, but in the fourth quarter came back in there and again willed us to victory," Pargo said. "He has a will that only a couple players have in this league and it's good to have a guy like that on our team."
Rondo scored 23 points for Boston. Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Celtics outrebound New Orleans 44-29. Allen added 17 points.
Stojakovic scored 13 for the Hornets, who were 25-of-29 on free throws.
Boston shot 75 percent in the opening period and was up 60-45 in the second before New Orleans closed to 65-55 at halftime
|Chris Paul's Hornets run past the Celtics, who watch their four-game win streak come to an end. (AP)|
|New Orleans (47-21) «||23||32||26||32||113|
|BOS:P. Pierce 28 Pts
BOS:K. Garnett 12 Reb
BOS:R. Rondo 7 Ast
|NO:D. West 37 Pts
NO:T. Chandler 9 Reb
NO:C. Paul 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|R. Allen, SG||39||6-12||3-4||6||3||3||17|
|P. Pierce, SG||38||9-15||7-9||6||2||4||28|
|K. Garnett, PF||36||9-13||1-2||12||4||4||19|
|R. Rondo, PG||35||10-15||3-4||4||7||3||23|
|K. Perkins, C||32||2-2||2-2||4||2||2||6|
|J. Posey, SF||19||0-4||0-0||1||0||1||0|
|P. Brown, PF||12||1-4||0-0||5||0||2||2|
|L. Powe, PF||12||2-3||1-1||3||0||4||5|
|S. Cassell, PG||10||0-2||0-0||1||1||1||0|
|E. House, SG||7||2-4||0-0||2||2||2||6|
|S. Pollard, C||Did Not Play|
|B. Scalabrine, PF||Did Not Play|
|T. Allen, SG||Did Not Play|
|G. Davis, PF||Did Not Play|
|G. Pruitt, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|T. Chandler, C||43||4-4||1-2||9||0||5||9|
|D. West, PF||43||15-25||7-7||4||0||3||37|
|P. Stojakovic, SG||37||3-13||5-5||2||1||2||13|
|C. Paul, PG||29||6-10||5-6||3||7||5||19|
|M. Peterson, SG||16||1-3||2-2||2||1||2||5|
|B. Wells, SG||26||3-8||5-7||3||2||2||12|
|J. Pargo, PG||21||6-10||0-0||3||6||1||15|
|J. Wright, SF||17||1-3||0-0||0||2||1||3|
|M. Ely, C||7||0-1||0-0||3||0||0||0|
|R. Bowen, SF||Did Not Play|
|M. James, PG||Did Not Play|
|C. Andersen, PF||Did Not Play|
|R. Butler, SG||Did Not Play|
|H. Armstrong, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|