NEW ORLEANS -- For Chris Paul, it's not always about strategy, but simply that uncanny knack for rising to the occasion.
With New Orleans down by seven inside the final three minutes, Paul scored or assisted on 10 straight points, and the Hornets closed with a 13-2 run to pull out a 99-95 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.
"When we're out there playing a game, I'm looking at the score like, whatever we got to do to make sure we got more than them at the end of the game, that's what I'm going to do," Paul said.
Indeed he did, finishing with a game-high 28 points, nine assists and a pair of steals.
Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and Aaron Brooks had 17 for Houston, which shot 49 percent and led most of the game, but was hurt in the end by 19 turnovers and the lack of a go-to scorer in the final minutes.
"When they needed scores and they needed stops they got them, and when we had opportunities, we didn't capitalize on them," Ariza said. "They did what they do best, and that's get the ball to Chris Paul and let him make plays."
While Houston was 8 of 20 on 3-point attempts, it appeared that long-range shooting would be the Hornets' downfall. New Orleans was only 2 of 13 from long range before Paul found James Posey for a momentum-changing 3 with 2:07 to go. Paul followed with a driving layup and was fouled for a three-point play.
After Ariza missed a long jump shot as the shot clock wound down, Paul found West for a mid-range jumper to put New Orleans in the lead.
Houston, which overcame an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat New Orleans in Houston on Tuesday night, continued to fall apart this time. Landry fouled out when Posey crashed to the floor as Landry pushed his way across the lane, drawing a whistle as Landry held up his arms in disbelief. The call infuriated Rockets coach Rick Adelman.
"I'm going to be trying to find out what an offensive foul is," Adelman said after the game. "That's all I want to find out -- what an offensive foul is."
He cut short his postgame interview seconds later, saying that if he continued it was "gonna cost me."
Landry said he didn't run over Posey intentionally and that Posey "tried to flop a little bit."
Posey said he'd recognized the play Houston was running and moved into Landry's path.
"He didn't even slow down and he just ran me over and I was able to get the call," Posey said. "It was just one of those heady plays, just saving it for a stretch like that."
After Landry went to the bench, Paul then wound the shot clock down as he backed into the lane and hit a tough turnaround fadeaway to make 96-93 with 19 seconds to go and send the crowd into a frenzy.
"Don't nobody do that except Kobe," Landry said. "It's just a tough shot and it fell."
Brooks tried to tie it but missed from long range. Devin Brown got the rebound and was quickly fouled. He hit both free throws to cap a 12-point night, and the Rockets were unable to recover.
Houston led for much of the first half and went up by 11 early in the third quarter when Shane Battier's transition 3-pointer made it 62-51. The Rockets shot 51.8 percent (29 of 56) through three quarters and led 77-71 heading into the fourth.
New Orleans was as close as 86-84 after Paul converted an off-balance leaner as he was bumped by Kyle Lowry into a three-point play. Brooks answered with a 3 from the right wing, and after West scored, Brooks hit a pair of free throws and Landry scored inside to put Houston up 93-86 with 2:57 left. The Rockets would score only two points the rest of the way.
"I'm really happy and proud of our guys for how they won," Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. "We had stretches that we had breakdowns, but when we needed stops, we defended and really tried to keep them contained."
Louis Scola scored 15 for Houston, but it all came before he checked out with four fouls in the third quarter. Lowry added 12 points.
Darius Songaila scored 12 in a reserve role for New Orleans.
- Okafor had 11 rebounds in the first half alone.
- The Hornets (15-16) have won 11 of their last 12 at home, where they are 13-3 this season.
- Houston won the first meeting of the season between the teams, 108-100 in Houston on Dec. 29.
- Houston came in having won six of eight games and two in a row.
- The Rockets (20-14) dropped to 10-10 on the road this season.