Paul Helps Hornets Cling to Playoff Hope
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 104, Seattle 99
OKLAHOMA CITY, April 12 (Ticker) -- Rookie Chris Paul is not about to let the New Orleans Hornets' playoff hopes disappear.
Paul scored four of his 21 points in the final minute as the Hornets kept alive their slim chances at a postseason berth with a 104-99 win over the Seattle SuperSonics, who wasted 36 points from Ray Allen.
"It's a good win for us," Paul said. "It gives us a little momentum going into these last couple of games, and they are all must-win games for us the rest of the way."
"The door is still open for us," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Us getting into the playoffs is a matter of us taking care of business and getting a little help."
Kirk Snyder's free throw midway through the fourth quarter gave the Hornets their largest lead at 96-85. But Nick Collison had six points and Allen a basket as the SuperSonics rallied to get within 100-97 with 58 seconds left.
Paul answered with a jumper before the shot clock expired and responded to a layup by Allen with a pair of free throws to ice it with three seconds to go.
"I love taking that shot," Paul said of his big jumper, "With the shot clock winding down, everyone likes having the ball in their hands in that situation, but as a point guard, I love it."
Marc Jackson had 17 points and a season-high 14 rebounds and Desmond Mason chipped in 17 points for the Hornets, who finish their home slate Friday against Utah before hitting the road for three games to end the regular season.
The Hornets fell behind, 41-30, early in the second quarter but scored the next seven points to get back in it. They took the lead for good, 58-56, when Jackson hit the seventh 3-pointer of his career and first since the 2002-03 season with nine seconds left in the first half.
"We just keep fighting, that's what we do," Jackson said. "We got down 11 and just kept coming back. It was a great team win and great effort on everyone's part."
Coming off a 14-point outing at San Antonio on Tuesday, Allen made 13-of-25 shots - including 6-of-9 3-pointers. His teammates combined to go 5-of-15 from the arc.
"They were out-hustling us to every ball," Allen said. "We were getting beat on every possesion. They needed this win badly to get in, and we did nothing to stop them."