Paul, Claxton Spark Hornets Past Spurs
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 89, San Antonio 76
OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 18 (Ticker) -- After a "home" loss in Louisiana, Chris Paul and Speedy Claxton returned to somewhat familiar territory and played like it in the fourth quarter.
Paul and Claxton fueled a 29-point final period as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets stormed to an 89-76 victory over the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.
On Sunday, they turned the tables on defending NBA champion San Antonio, ending a four-game losing streak in the series.
With the Hornets leading by two, Paul collected one of his five steals and pushed the fast break, leading to Claxton's layup for a 73-69 lead. Claxton trapped Tony Parker and stole a pass leading to a three-point play to push the lead to 76-69 with 5:32 to go.
Paul capped a 10-0 run with another three-point play with 5:02 left.
"When we can push the tempo, that's when we are at our best," Paul said. "We are a young team with young legs and we have a lot of guys who can get up and down the court."
Paul had 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists and Claxton added 14, six assists and four steals. The two point guards combined for 25 second-half points.
David West played through foul trouble to score 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the Hornets. West eliminated any type of late run by the Spurs by sinking repeated jumpers.
The Hornets also held the Spurs to 6-of-18 in the final period.
"Our defense was huge (in the fourth quarter)," Paul said. "We got four consecutive stops, then boxed out, not letting them get second chances."
"They were much more agressive than we were," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team committed a season-high 23 turnovers. "They beat us on the boards. They wanted the game more than we did."
Popovich attributed most of his team's sloppy play to the schedule.
"It's been the same on the second night of a back-to-back," Popovich said. "We play with a team for three quarters, then we run out of gas. It's pretty early in the season to be running out of gas."
Michael Finley and Tony Parker scored 17 points apiece for the Spurs. Superstar Tim Duncan tied his season low with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds.
"We knew if we were going to win this game we had to contain Duncan," Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "We did a lot better job than I think we expected."
Brown, the NBA's 2004 Sportsmanship Award winner, lost his composure in the second quarter, leading to four players receiving technical fouls.
Brown hit Finley with a shoulder block after not getting a foul call on a missed shot and Spurs forward Robert Horry stepped in to separate the two players. Desmond Mason, Brown, Horry and Finley all received technicals for their involvement in the shoving match.
"It was out of frustration," Brown said. "When you are the world champions, you've earned those kind of calls.
"We've been playing hard, but we want just this much respect," continued Brown, holding his index finger and thumb one inch apart. "But they weren't giving it to us, which is fine. We got the win."