SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Rejected after failing a physical that nullified a trade to Oklahoma City last week, Tyson Chandler enjoyed a nice welcome back party Monday night with his New Orleans teammates.
It was Hornets point guard Chris Paul making sure Chandler's return was a happy occasion. The All-Star point guard had 27 points and 13 assists for the Hornets, who held off a fourth-quarter rally by the Sacramento Kings in a 112-105 victory.
Chandler scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and added 10 rebounds after missing the previous 16 games with a sprained left ankle. The Hornets were 7-9 in Chandler's absence.
"It (the trade) was something that doesn't happen every day," said Paul, who made 11 of 19 shots and added six rebounds and three steals. "But we got our big fella back. He is a guy that knows the system and we know what to expect from him night in and night out. We welcomed him back with open arms."
It was Paul orchestrating the fourth quarter, tantalizing the Kings' defense with his ball-handling, shooting and pinpoint passing off the pick-and-roll. He was especially effective in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points and three times finding Chandler with perfect lob passes for dunks.
Ahead by four points, Paul hit back-to-back jumpers midway through the fourth quarter to put New Orleans up 99-91. The Kings never got closer than five points the rest of the game.
"You almost have to pick your poison with us," Paul said. "With TC (Chandler) back there, we have our lob factor back. Then when I get in the lane, Tyson is here and D (David) West is open for the jumper. Then you have Peja (Stojakovic) there, or do you let me shoot?"
West had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets, who had lost two straight and eight of 12. Stojakovic had 18 points, James Posey made four 3-pointers and scored 13, and Rasual Butler contributed 12 points.
Kevin Martin scored 24 of his 32 points in the fourth period for the Kings, setting an Arco Arena record for points in a quarter and was one point short of tying Mitch Richmond's 25-point effort that is a Sacramento-era mark. Andres Nocioni scored 19 points, Francisco Garcia had 17 and Spencer Hawes added 13 points and 14 rebounds.
With seven new players acquired in trades last week, the Kings could have used name tags. Unfortunately for the Kings, the result was the same. The loss was the second straight and eighth in nine games for Sacramento, which has the worst record (12-46) in the NBA.
"We are just taking small steps right now," Martin said. "It's different with six or seven new guys. Hopefully on Wednesday (against Charlotte) we will have a better outcome."
Trailing by double digits most of the game, the Kings came alive to start the fourth quarter, scoring nine straight points, including Martin's 3-pointer that cut the New Orleans lead to 84-83.
Paul became more assertive in the third quarter, penetrating and finding teammates, and also looking for the perimeter shot. West remained a force inside, scoring eight points and Paul had six points and four assists to help the Hornets take an 84-74 lead into the fourth quarter.
"We had that team down pretty good at the half, but we were lackadaisical to start the third quarter and that carried through for the rest of the game," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We didn't come out with the same intensity we had in the first half."
West was aggressive in the opening half, getting free around the basket and also regularly visiting the free-throw line. He made eight of 10 free throws and scored 16 points, helping New Orleans take a 61-47 lead into the half.
In his second game with the Kings, Nocioni had an immediate impact. He made all four first-half shots, including two 3-pointers, and scored 11 points. An added plus was showing defensive toughness, a trait the Kings have been lacking all season.
"We didn't win, that's all I know, so we need to keep working and try to play all 48 minutes," Nocioni said. "It's really tough right now because I don't know how everyone likes to play. It's probably going to take one more week."
|In his first game back from an ankle injury, Tyson Chandler gets 15 points and 10 boards. (Getty Images)|
|New Orleans (33-22) «||29||32||23||28||112|
|NO:C. Paul 27 Pts
NO:T. Chandler 10 Reb
NO:C. Paul 13 Ast
|SAC:K. Martin 32 Pts
SAC:S. Hawes 14 Reb
SAC:F. Garcia 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
'47 Brand Pelicans Primary Logo Scrum T-Shirt - Red
$37.95 Shop Now!
|D. West, PF||44||8-19||8-10||9||5||1||24|
|P. Stojakovic, SG||39||6-14||4-5||8||2||4||18|
|C. Paul, PG||39||11-19||4-6||6||13||0||27|
|T. Chandler, C||32||5-6||5-7||10||1||4||15|
|R. Butler, SG||27||5-9||0-0||2||0||3||12|
|J. Posey, SF||28||4-7||1-2||3||0||3||13|
|S. Marks, C||16||1-2||1-2||7||0||2||3|
|A. Daniels, PG||9||0-0||0-0||0||4||1||0|
|D. Brown, SG||6||0-3||0-0||1||0||2||0|
|R. Bowen, SF||Did Not Play|
|M. Peterson, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Ely, C||Did Not Play|
|H. Armstrong, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Wright, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|F. Garcia, SF||43||6-11||4-4||6||6||2||17|
|S. Hawes, C||42||6-12||1-3||14||3||4||13|
|K. Martin, SG||39||9-21||10-13||2||5||3||32|
|B. Udrih, PG||31||2-6||1-2||3||2||4||5|
|J. Thompson, PF||12||3-3||3-4||4||0||4||9|
|A. Nocioni, SF||32||7-11||1-3||3||3||2||19|
|B. Jackson, PG||22||3-7||2-2||3||2||1||8|
|R. McCants, SG||10||0-2||0-0||0||2||1||0|
|C. Simmons, SF||6||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|D. Greene, SF||4||1-3||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|C. Booth, C||Did Not Play|
|K. Thomas, PF||Did Not Play|
|W. Solomon, PG||Did Not Play|
|D. Gooden, PF||Did Not Play|
|I. Diogu, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. Cassell, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|