Hornets Hand Magic Another Home Loss
New Orleans-Oklahoma City 98, Orlando 95
ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 19 (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Hornets were without several key players, but David West and rookie Chris Paul were there in the clutch.
West scored a career-high 34 points, Paul added 21 and eight assists and the duo combined to score 14 of the Hornets' last 16 points in a 98-95 triumph over the struggling Orlando Magic.
"This morning, coach (Byron Scott) told us that last year we didn't win our third game until January," West said. "This is a different team this year. Guys are young and hungry to be out there and are playing their hearts out."
The Hornets took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Paul that made it 84-82 with 4:46 remaining. Paul and West made sure they kept that lead.
After a tough defensive stand in which West denied Orlando's Dwight Howard inside, Paul picked up the loose ball and raced to the other end. The 6-foot guard connected on a nifty up-and-under layup to make it 90-86 with 1:16 to go.
"He's a very intelligent young man," Scott said. "He's got a great presence out there on the court and he understands what he has to do. He did a heck of a job of keeping us in the game and then eventually winning it."
"Everyone instilled a lot of confidence in me," Paul said. "Coach puts the ball in my hands and has given me a great opportunity."
Steve Francis, who scored 21 points, answered with a 3-pointer at the 1:02 mark, but Paul responded with a shot from the arc with 41 seconds left.
West and Paul each sank a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds to send Orlando to its fourth loss in five home games this season.
"It hurts to lose at home, man," Francis said. "I'm upset that we lost, but then that we lost at home, that's tough. This isn't the way I thought we'd start our season, I tell you that - you know, consistently giving games away."
After hitting just 10-of-18 free throws through three periods, the Hornets connected on 15-of-20 free throws in the final quarter compared to no attempts for Orlando.
"Early in the fourth quarter, they already had four team fouls, so coach said to keep attacking them," Paul said. "And you can see that David West scored almost enough points for the whole team tonight."
A third-year forward, West was a remarkable 15-of-22 from the floor and added eight rebounds.
"I knew the kind of looks I was going to get against Orlando," said West, whose previous career-best was 16 points. "We've got guys who can penetrate like Chris, so there were going to be a lot of shots from the outside. I hit a few early and once I got into my rhythm I was just letting everything go."
Reserve Keyon Dooling scored a career-high 22 points and Hedo Turkoglu had a season-high 22 for the Magic. Howard had 16 points and 17 rebounds.