Paul Shines as Hornets Thump Bobcats
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 107, Charlotte 92
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 16 (Ticker) -- Rookie Chris Paul returned to his native state and flashed his basketball brilliance.
Paul collected 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets coasted to a 107-92 victory over the struggling Charlotte Bobcats, who have dropped four straight games.
A 6-foot point guard, Paul must have things figured out when it comes to Charlotte. Two weeks ago, he scored 24 points in a 103-86 home triumph.
"He's going to be very good," said Charlotte guard Brevin Knight, who scored five points. "He's the same person that I had to play the first time. He understands the game, runs the team well, knows when to take shots and when to get it to other people. He had a great game."
On Monday, the Winston-Salem product and Wake Forest alumnus led a balanced attack as he drained 6-of-12 shots and made all 12 of his free throws. The Hornets had six players in double figures.
"He was motivated," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "He was coming home, he had about 500 people coming to see him today, so he wanted to win the game and play well. We were able to accomplish both."
The game was tied, 25-25, to start the second quarter before the Hornets surged ahead, using a 22-9 burst to open the period. Reserves Rasual Butler and Speedy Claxton combined for 12 points during the stretch.
"We got stops, we forced them into some contested jump shots and we were able to rebound the ball," Scott said. "We just did what we do best, and that's try to get up and down the floor. That's how we play basketball."
New Orleans/Oklahoma City held a commanding 66-45 advantage at intermission behind outstanding shooting, connecting on 55 percent (22-of-40) of its shots and 21-of-24 free throws. Paul had 12 points and four assists.
"He's really good," Scott said. "He's gotten better each month and he knows we expect a lot from him, and he expects a lot from himself. I don't think anybody could envision him playing this well this early, but now that we see how good he can be, we continue to try and push it."
The Bobcats never threatened after the break. Once again, they played without most of their front line as 2005 Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor, Melvin Ely, Jake Voskuhl and rookie Sean May all sat with leg injuries. They also were without shooting guard Kareem Rush.
"We didn't execute on offense, and we didn't execute on defense, and that's what happens," said Bobcats center Primoz Brezec, who scored 18 points. "No matter who you play, if you're not doing it the right way, you're going to get blown out in your own building, no matter where you play. It was just one of those days. It's just disappointing."
David West had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Claxton scored 15 points for the Hornets, who shot 47 percent (36-of-76) overall and won their third straight game.
"We knew there would be some growing pains. However, if you look at the standings right now, we are in the playoff picture," said Hornets forward P.J. Brown, who scored 12 points. "Last year, we were more of a walk-the-ball team, but now with the addition of Chris and Desmond (Mason), we are able to play at an up-tempo pace."
New Orleans/Oklahoma City (18-19) matched its win total for all of last season.
"We wanted to get this one real bad and continue to march toward the .500 mark," said West, who shot 9-of-18 from the field. "This is one of those games where guys can come out and forget to focus, but we didn't and we stuck to what we needed to do and got a win."
Gerald Wallace had 19 points and a career-high six blocks and rookie Raymond Felton had 16 and seven assists for Charlotte, which shot just 37 percent (29-of-77).
"We can sum it up real easy," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Coaches, players, we were just real bad. It's just that simple. There's nothing we could have done. It was one of those days where we just kind of fumigated the place. We were not very good."