This one was especially sweet for the Hornets, who went up 92-73 with 3:38 remaining. At that moment you heard something you never thought would happen in the American Airlines Center: visiting Hornets fans loudly doing the MVP" chant for Chris Paul, as the All-Star point guard stood at the foul line. The Mavericks fans who opted not to leave early were left with the task of trying to drown out that chant by booing.
A quality road team all season, New Orleans shook off an ominous start Sunday down 30-23 after a quarter to pull into a 48-44 halftime lead. The Hornets gradually took control of the scoreboard in the second half, led by big third quarters from David West (10 of his game-best 24 points) and Peja Stojakovic (8 of his 19 points). New Orleans went up 10 through three quarters; Dallas never got within single digits in the final stanza.
With the game slipping away at 7:16 of the fourth quarter, Dallas point guard Jason Kidd was ejected after committing a flagrant foul (type 2) on Jannero Pargo. As Pargo drove to the basket for a fast-break layup attempt, Kidd yanked Pargo to the floor by the side of Pargos head, causing the 6-foot-1 Hornet to fall hard. Pargo braced his fall with his hands, then walked away from a potential confrontation.
Game 5 is Tuesday at the New Orleans Arena, with tip-off at 6 p.m. The Hornets will be attempting to win their first playoff series since 2002.
"We have to have the same approach and focus," said West, who uses boxing as part of his offseason training. "We have to go in with the attitude that we have to be the aggressor. We have to be the one who throws the first punch."
Chris Paul: Kudos to the New Orleans fans who coordinated the aforementioned MVP chant for CP in enemy territory. Im not sure if Paul heard the cheer, but its possible it was in the back of his mind when he said on TNTs postgame show that its a great feeling to go up 3-1, knowing were going back to New Orleans, where I feel like we have some of the best fans in the league. By Pauls lofty, MVP-caliber standards, Game 4 was an average outing, with him scoring 16 points on 6-for-14 shooting. But he also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
Morris Peterson: My vote for unsung hero of the game. He was big in the Hornets weathering an early push by the Mavericks, by scoring eight first-quarter points, including three jump shots and a fast-break layup. He finished with 10 points and two blocked shots in 27 minutes.
Tyson Chandler: A second straight extremely quiet game for the center, who had just two points and five rebounds. Heres one stat that looks pretty good though: the Hornets were plus-22 with him on the floor, the best plus-minus of anyone.
Peja Stojakovic: He was vintage Peja, drilling several timely perimeter bombs, including a pair of treys in the third quarter. During the middle quarters, which the Hornets dominated by a 53-36 margin, he piled up 14 of his 19 points.
David West: The Mavericks made him work for just about everything he got, but at times he carried the Hornets offense on his back. He scored 22 points through three quarters, mixing in his repertoire of post-up moves and face-up jumpers from 15 to 19 feet. Another big moment for a guy who is an All-Star now but still not that recognizable yet to casual fans.
Julian Wright: A spectacular breakout performance by the talented rookie, who finished with 11 points and two steals. In the first half, he made two athletic finishes for baskets on fast breaks. Then in the second half, he had an outstanding sequence in which he hit a corner jumper; stole the ball at the other end from behind against Jason Kidd; and dribbled the ball all the way to the other end and was fouled. He had some big steals and made some big shots, CP said of Wright. More praise, from TNT analyst Doug Collins on Wright: Great minutes tonight.
Jannero Pargo: Drilled three perimeter shots for seven quick points during New Orleans 25-14 second quarter. He finished with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting. The 6-foot-1 guard also pulled down some tough defensive rebounds in the paint, totaling six caroms. You have to love what this guy did in the two games in Dallas this weekend.
Hilton Armstrong: Two points, four fouls and a rebound in 13 minutes. He did have one nice highlight, grabbing an offensive board over a Dallas defender and laying it back in for two points.
Bonzi Wells: He went 1-for-4 for two points, scoring on a nifty reverse layup off a feed from CP. Otherwise, he made a few mistakes with the ball, throwing a long pass too far for Chandler to reach it on a break, then missing a contested dunk that led to a Dallas dunk at the other end.
Ryan Bowen: Subbed in with 3:38 left and the Hornets leading by 19. Two rebounds.