Paul Returns, Hornets Roll Past Trail Blazers
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 102, Portland 86
OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 15 (Ticker) -- Chris Paul returned to the lineup to keep the New Orleans Hornets rolling.
Paul, who missed the last three games with a rib injury, had seven assists and Kirk Snyder scored 22 points as the Hornets posted a 102-86 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers for their fifth straight win.
Claxton scored eight of his 11 points in a 15-3 run early in the second quarter that gave the Hornets control. The point guard's basket started the spurt and his layup capped it for a 43-24 advantage with 6:46 left in the first half.
"Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble on the offensive end," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We might pass up a shot, but tonight we did a real good job of moving the ball around and that opened up the shots we can knock down."
Snyder netted 12 points in the half that ended with the Hornets holding a 52-34 cushion.
The Hornets are on their longest winning streak since an eight-game run in the 2002-03 season.
"It's big for us," said Scott of the five-game winning streak. "It's too bad the All-Star break is now, I kinda wish we had a game to play tomorrow or Friday."
Paul scored just one point in 22 minutes, but attempted only three shots. He left the game in the third quarter after colliding with Portland center Ha Seung-Jin, jamming his left shoulder and did not return as a precautionary measure.
"Luckily, it wasn't his ribs." Scott said. "We'll just add that to his repertoire of injuries. He's going to Houston (for All-Star Weekend), I told him to have fun, but be careful, we need him healthy for the stretch run."
"It felt good to get out there and run," Paul said. "I think we picked up where we left off before I got hurt. It's a good time to get away for a few days and heal up a little bit."
Snyder made 8-of-17 shots and recently acquired Aaron Williams had a season-high 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Hornets, who had six players reach double figures and saw every player who suited up score.
"We wanted to come out and put our foot down and let people know that we are a good basketball team," Snyder said.
"Our bench has the same mentality as our starters," said David West of the reserves who were responsible for 46 points. "Get in, be aggressive and try to out play your man, and tonight everyone came in and did their part."
Zach Randolph and Juan Dixon each collected 12 points for Portland, which lost for the fifth time in six games.
"We have been begging our guys to compete and do things that you expect NBA players to do," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Nights like this when you've had rest, mentally, we've got to be ready to go. We were outworked."
The Hornets never trailed and led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter.