HOUSTON -- The New Orleans Hornets looked at the scoreboard late in the third quarter, saw the swelling deficit and knew they still had a chance to beat Houston.
The Rockets, meanwhile, are starting to get the feeling that no lead is safe, no matter when they have it.
Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Hornets, who have won five straight over Houston. Paul had a quiet night, with 11 points, eight assists and five turnovers.
New Orleans was outscored 29-14 in the third quarter and had twice as many turnovers (8) as field goals (4) to fall behind 76-60.
"I couldn't figure it out," Okafor said. "We kind of just collapsed a little bit."
New Orleans coach Monty Williams was calm in the huddle after the quarter ended, and the Hornets didn't panic.
"Not so impressive third quarter," Okafor said. "But fortunately for us, it was only the beginning of the fourth. We had a lot of basketball to play and we all knew it."
A week ago, the Rockets blew a 16-point lead in the second quarter in an overtime loss to Utah, and the players sense the start of a disturbing pattern.
"You've got to make it not happen," Lowry said. "You've got to take some type of stand and not let that happen. We went through a good stretch where we were finishing games very good. But we're going back through a stretch where we are finishing games bad."
With Houston up by 16, West sank two free throws and Jared Jeffries was called for goaltending on Jack's layup before the third quarter ended to start a 14-0 Hornets' run.
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New Orleans finally tied it at 91-all with 1:16 left. Lowry's free throws broke the tie, but West drove past Jared Jeffries for a one-handed dunk to silence the crowd.
Martin swished a jumper, West hit two free throws and Lowry missed an off-balance jumper in the final 26 seconds of regulation to force overtime.
Former Rocket Trevor Ariza swished a 3-pointer from the corner two minutes into overtime to put the Hornets ahead 100-99. Shane Battier hit an answering 3, but Paul scored on a drive and then hit a jumper over Martin to give New Orleans the lead for good.
The Hornets have won six of their last eight.
"For maybe 40 minutes of that game, we didn't play our basketball," Paul said, "but it showed a lot that we got stops when we needed to and made big plays when we had to."
The Hornets went 28-for-31 from the free-throw line and outrebounded the Rockets 48-41. Paul and West were limping on sore ankles and Okafor had both knees wrapped and his feet soaking in ice water after the game.
"We had some guys playing hurt," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "They just found ways to make plays."
Houston built an early lead by shooting 57 percent in the first quarter.
Martin, back after missing two games with a sore right wrist, sank a 3-pointer and Lowry scored twice in the lane to help Houston build a seven-point lead. The Rockets then went six minutes without a field goal in the second quarter, and the Hornets pulled even at 37-all.
Jack assisted on Ariza's fast-break dunk, then swished a 3-pointer from the corner to put New Orleans in front and the Hornets led 50-47 at the break.
- Scola had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
- Okafor tied his season high for rebounds and has 10 double-doubles in his last 15 games.
- Houston C Brad Miller sat out for the third straight game with a sore left knee.
- Hornets G Marco Belinelli sat out with a sprained right ankle.
- The NBA granted a disabled-player salary exception to the Rockets in the wake of Yao Ming's ankle injury. The exception allows the Rockets to acquire a free agent, or trade for a player without having to match salaries, up to the value of the midlevel exception (about $5.765 million).