Collison, subbing for the injured Hornets' point guard, scored 17 points and had a career-best 18 assists and New Orleans defeated Memphis 109-102 in overtime on Saturday, snapping the Grizzlies' 11-game home winning streak.
"I give credit to [Paul]," the rookie from UCLA said. "I get the chance to watch him every day in the pick-and-roll. I was being a lot more aggressive in the pick-and-roll finding my gaps. I am so small [6-foot, 160 pounds] and quick that I can use it to my advantage."
Emeka Okafor had 21 points, including 19 after halftime, as New Orleans overcame a 21-point deficit in the third quarter to win its third game out of the past four. The rally was one point shy of the Hornets' franchise record of a 22-point rally to defeat Boston in 1995.
Four of the Hornets past 10 games have gone to overtime, and New Orleans had lost the previous three before Saturday's victory.
Collison's steal and dunk with 24 seconds left put the game out of reach.
"[Collison] seemed a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable getting to the cup, making decisions," Okafor said of the second half. "He just started rolling, and we started rolling."
David West led New Orleans with 22 points, while Peja Stojakovic had 20 points. Marcus Thornton finished with 14 for the Hornets, who moved ahead of Memphis for the Western Conference's eighth playoff spot. Houston, Memphis and Oklahoma City have identical 25-21 records, a half-game behind the Hornets for the last spot.
"It's crazy over here in the West," Okafor said. "You have like six teams that are right there. You just have to play ball and see what happens."
Paul, the Hornets' leading scorer, sat out the game with a bruised left knee. Paul initially hurt the leg in Wednesday's game against Golden State, then hit it again in Friday's overtime loss to Chicago.
"It was a great win for us on the heels of [Friday] night's difficult defeat," Hornets coach Jeff Bower said.
After Grizzlies guard Jamaal Tinsley scored the opening basket of the extra period, the Hornets scored the next six points as a pair of free throws each from Stojakovic and West were sandwiched around Collison's 10-footer.
That put New Orleans up 103-99. Randolph's 3-point play with 2:03 left gave Memphis some hope.
But the Grizzlies would not score again as New Orleans had the final six points, including Collison's steal and dunk with 24 seconds left.
Memphis made only 2 of its 13 shots in overtime -- Tinsley's layup and Randolph's basket on the front of the 3-point play.
Collison replaced Paul when the Hornets' leading scorer missed eight games earlier in the season with an ankle injury. New Orleans is 5-4 in games without Paul.
Memphis led by 21 early in the third quarter, but slowly let the game slip away by shooting 32 percent after the break. It was the biggest lead Memphis has blown in a losing effort this season.
"We played hard enough early to get up by 21 points, and then we quit executing," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "We turned the ball over. We didn't share the basketball when it should have been shared. We took tough shots. That was the key."
"We thought we were going to win, and stopped moving the ball and didn't help each other," Gasol said. "This is a lesson we have to learn."
The Hornets made a run at Memphis to start the second half. New Orleans was much more effective moving the ball, and the Hornets were beginning to connect on their shots, particularly inside.
Okafor's dunk, his fifth field goal of the quarter, cut the lead to 75-66, and Darius Songaila's tip-in got the Hornets closer than they had been in a while at 75-68.
Okafor had 14 in the quarter, hitting all seven of his shots in the period. That was part of the Hornets going 14 of 16 from the field in the period, and helped New Orleans cut the Memphis advantage to 81-76 entering the fourth.
"We dug ourselves into a little bit of a rut and had to bring it," Okafor said. "It was either we bring energy or get blown out. We didn't plan on getting blown out, so we just buckled down and did what we had to do."
Collison was getting to the basket to keep the Hornets chipping away at the Memphis lead in the fourth. New Orleans pulled even at 85 when Songaila scored inside.
"[Collison's] effort was terrific with his own play and how his effort created things for others," Bower said.
- After a winter storm Friday made Memphis roads slick, the Grizzlies offered fans the opportunity to exchange their tickets for Saturday's game for tickets to next Friday's home game against the Houston Rockets.
- It was Randolph's first game at home since being selected as a reserve on the All-Star team. The forward got a rousing ovation from the crowd when the honor was mentioned as part of his pre-game introduction.
- Collison's assists not only were a career high, but also a franchise best for a rookie. The previous was 16 by Paul in 2006 against Golden State.