CP3 Nabs First Triple-Double in Hornetsí Win
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 120, Toronto 113 (2OT)
TORONTO, April 2 (Ticker) -- Chris Paul and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets are not willing to go out of the playoff race quietly.
Paul recorded his first career triple-double and David West scored 23 points as the Hornets posted a 120-113 double-overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors.
"I've been saying all along that eventually it will happen (the triple-double) and thankfully, we got a win tonight to go along with it," Paul said.
The Hornets relinquished an 18-point lead in the second half and faced a 100-95 deficit with 2:50 left in overtime. However, Rasual Butler hit a 3-pointer and Paul hit a pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining to tie it. The Raptors failed to get a shot off at the buzzer, forcing a second OT.
Butler opened the session with another 3-pointer and Speedy Claxton added a three-point play to make it 106-100 with 4:02 to play. Mike James answered with a 3-pointer, but Claxton hit two free throws and and Paul hit a dagger shot from the arc to push the edge back 111-103 with three minutes to go and all but seal the victory.
"(Paul's) a great little player who's got a lot of heart and tonight he really came through big time," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We showed some guts tonight. In our previous overtime games we were flat but tonight we didn't fold. We showed some resiliency and we grew up a little bit."
West scored 10 points in the first half as the Hornets built a 53-42 lead. He added five more points as the Hornets opened the third quarter with a 9-2 burst, pushing the advantage to 62-44.
The Raptors bridged the periods with a 22-7 run, cutting the deficit to 85-83 on a basket with just over eight minutes left in regulation.
Paul contributed six as the Hornets pushed the lead back to double digits three minutes later, but the Raptors once again rallied with a 12-0 burst to move in front. 95-93, a pair of free throws by Joey Graham with two minutes on the clock.
"We came up short," said Raptors swingman Morris Peterson, who scored 27 points. "For the first three quarters, we didn't play our brand of basketball but in the fourth quarter we played better and put ourselves in a position to win."
The teams traded two empty possessions apiece before Marc Jackson drained a jumper from the top of the key to tie it with 25 seconds remaining. James missed a tough driving layup at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
"We gave up a big lead, which is the sign of a young team, but we were able to get the win which is most important right now," Jackson said. "Every win is more important than the last one."
Rookie Charlie Villanueva had 25 points and a season-high 18 rebounds for the Raptors, who have lost four straight.