West, Paul Lead Hornets Past Raptors
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 95, Toronto 89
OKLAHOMA CITY, April 7 (Ticker) -- David West supplied the muscle in the paint and rookie Chris Paul controlled the tempo.
West had 19 points and nine rebounds and Paul collected 16 points and eight assists as the New Orleans Hornets breezed to a 95-89 victory over the reeling Toronto Raptors, who dropped their seventh straight game.
"We got out to an early lead and kept our foot on them," said Paul, whose team never trailed. "Everyone put in a lot of effort, and this is a game we needed to get into the playoffs."
The Hornets, who have won two straight, built an 88-72 advantage in the fourth quarter with 4:15 left on the heels of a 12-2 burst over a six-minute span. Speedy Claxton, who scored 11 points, had a hand in three baskets during the spurt.
"We can go 10 deep very easily," Hornets coach Byron Scottsaid. "Speedy is a guy that can play extended minutes for us off the bench and give us a boost. I loved the way he came out and got after it on defense and played hard."
Linton Johnson had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who shot 49 percent (39-of-79) from the field and scored 40 points in the paint.
"My thing is to be basketball player and what is needed," said Johnson, who shot 3-of-4 from the arc. "If they leave me open for a three, I'm going to take the shot. If they need me to play defense and stop my man, I'm going to stop my man. That's what I do."
Mike James scored 36 points and rookie Charlie Villanueva added 14 and nine rebounds for Toronto, which shot 37 percent (31-of-82) and made 13-of-35 from 3-point range.
"They (Hornets) got second chance points when they needed them, and guys just hit shots when they needed to," said James, who shot 7-of-10 from 3-point range. "It's about making plays, and they made the shots in the end."
James hit four shots from the arc during a 17-4 run to help the Raptors close within 92-89 after a follow shot by Andre Barrett with 48 seconds remaining. However, Paul followed with a basket on the other end as the shot clock expired, ending their threat.
"We knew that we couldn't rattled by the run," said Paul, who shot 7-of-13 from the field. "We understood we needed to get a couple stops, and hit a couple shots and we could win. The shot clock was running down, I had to shoot it and luckily I knocked it down."