West’s Jumper Leads Hornets Past Rockets
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 92, Houston 90
OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 28 (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets made a valiant comeback only to have David West send them home losers again.
West scored 15 points, including a jumper with 1.8 seconds left, as the New Orleans Hornets escaped with a 92-90 victory over the Rockets, who have lost four in a row.
"Points right now is really not a big thing for me, but it's time for me to get back to work," McGrady said. "My main focus now is trying to help us win."
The Hornets responded when West got the ball at the top of the key from rookie Chris Paul, who collected 11 points and a season-high 15 assists. West faked a pass to get Houston's David Wesley off his feet before drilling the shot over the outstretched arms of forward Juwan Howard.
"I knew I was going to get the ball," West said. "I knew they weren't going to allow Chris (Paul) to beat them. I got open and froze Wesley with a pass fake, and hit the shot. I won't pass that shot up."
Stromile Swift, who had his best game as a Rocket by collecting season highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds, had a chance to tie the game, but his jump hook bounced harmlessly off the rim as time expired.
"It wasn't good enough, we didn't get the win," Swift said. "I try to come in and bring energy. The effort was there, but we just didn't pull it off."
The Rockets held a 74-68 lead with 11:21 remaining on a jumper by Swift, but the Hornets responded by going on an 18-3 burst. Rasual Butler capped the charge with three 3-pointers, the last coming with 4:17 to left, giving the Hornets an 86-77 advantage.
"We started to take Tracy out of the game a little bit. We'd get him to give it up on a double team, and we used that to give us momentum on the other end of the floor," Butler said. "Then Speedy (Claxton) and Paul found me when I was open and gave me opportunities to play my game."
Butler scored all 15 of his points in the final period thanks to 6-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-3 from the arc. His performance came one day after coach Byron Scott was very vocal about his team's need for a spark off the bench.
"I took it personal, we are professional athletes and this is our job," Butler said of his coach's comments. "I wasn't exactly comfortable here, but I've been resilient. I hope that I can continue to help this team win with me coming off the bench."
"Rasual did a heck of a job making shots," Scott said. "He is getting comfortable out there and needs to put together a good stretch of games."