TORONTO -- After watching his team with its 50th game, New Orleans coach Byron Scott was willing to forgive a fourth-quarter lapse on defense.
David West scored 32 points and Chris Paul had 20 points and 16 assists to lead New Orleans to a 118-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, giving the Hornets 50 wins in a season for the first time since 1997-98.
"It's huge for us," West said of reaching 50. "I don't know if many people expected us to be where we are. We feel good about it but we're not settling for just 50. We're trying to win the West, trying to seal up the Southwest division. We're going to have to continue to play at a high level."
The Hornets shot 48-for-80 (60 percent) from the field, their third-highest mark of the season.
In a game that looked like a laugher, West and Paul had to be summoned from the bench after Toronto rallied from a 22-point deficit to cut the gap to 114-108 with 90 seconds remaining.
"Basically, their bench just ate our lunch," Scott said.
Scott felt better after West made a hook shot and Chandler threw down a dunk to push the Hornets' lead back to 10. But the coach made sure his team got the message about maintaining defensive intensity.
"I have to keep it in perspective," Scott said. "It's still a win, it's our 50th win of the season, we're still in number one position in the Western Conference so I have to keep all those things in perspective. I also have to keep reminding these guys that if we don't get better on the defensive end, we could be put out of the playoffs in the first round. It's that simple."
"They showed why they're one of the better teams in the Western Conference," Bosh said. "You really have to give it to them. We switched up our schemes, we tried to do different things but they were still able to have success. There wasn't anything we could throw at them to throw their offense off."
"The effort was there, we just couldn't stop anything," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.
Leading 69-58 at the half, the Hornets opened the third quarter with an 18-5 run, forcing the Raptors to call two timeouts before they could recover.
Chandler finished off two alley-oop dunks in the third as New Orleans outscored Toronto 32-21 to take a 101-79 lead into the fourth.
"We had a little stumble in our last game so it was good to see us come out and get this win," Chandler said.
The Hornets held a double-digit edge for much of the game. After T.J. Ford's jumper tied it at 14-14 midway through the first, New Orleans took the lead for good with an 11-0 run. West had three baskets and former Raptors forward Morris Peterson capped the spurt with a 3-pointer.
West went 8-for-11 with 16 points in the first as the Hornets opened a 34-24 edge after 12 minutes.
"When he gets that jump shot rolling it's hard for anybody in the league to stop him," Chandler said.
New Orleans avenged a 97-92 home loss to Toronto on Dec. 31.
|David West is untouchable against the Raptors, scoring 32 points as his Hornets win game No. 50. (AP)|
|New Orleans (50-22) «||37||32||32||17||118|
|NO:D. West 32 Pts
NO:T. Chandler 10 Reb
NO:C. Paul 16 Ast
|TOR:C. Bosh 21 Pts
TOR:K. Humphries 7 Reb
TOR:J. Calderon 11 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|P. Stojakovic, SG||43||9-13||2-3||4||2||0||25|
|T. Chandler, C||42||8-9||1-1||10||1||3||17|
|D. West, PF||42||13-21||6-8||7||3||4||32|
|C. Paul, PG||35||8-15||3-3||6||16||1||20|
|M. Peterson, SG||24||3-8||0-0||0||0||0||8|
|B. Wells, SG||17||6-11||0-0||0||0||2||12|
|J. Pargo, PG||16||1-2||2-2||2||3||1||4|
|J. Wright, SF||10||0-1||0-0||3||0||0||0|
|M. James, PG||5||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|C. Andersen, PF||5||0-0||0-0||2||0||0||0|
|R. Bowen, SF||Did Not Play|
|R. Butler, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Ely, C||Did Not Play|
|H. Armstrong, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Nesterovic, C||29||7-13||0-0||3||0||2||14|
|C. Bosh, PF||29||8-16||4-4||7||3||2||21|
|T. Ford, PG||26||5-10||0-0||1||6||2||10|
|A. Parker, SG||19||2-2||0-0||2||0||1||5|
|J. Kapono, SF||16||0-3||0-0||0||2||1||0|
|C. Delfino, SG||29||7-13||1-1||3||4||0||18|
|J. Calderon, PG||29||4-8||1-1||1||11||0||10|
|J. Moon, SG||23||5-7||0-0||6||1||0||13|
|A. Bargnani, PF||17||0-3||4-4||3||2||3||4|
|K. Humphries, PF||15||5-7||0-0||7||1||2||10|
|L. Johnson, PF||8||2-4||2-2||1||1||1||6|
|M. Baston, SF||Did Not Play|
|P. Brezec, C||Did Not Play|
|J. Graham, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Garbajosa, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|