James Posey drilled the biggest shot of his brief 14-game tenure with the Hornets. Chris Paul had another quiet first half from a scoring standpoint, but erupted in a big way after intermission. As a result, New Orleans posted one of its best victories so far in 2008-09.
New Orleans (9-5) canned three momentous treys in the final two minutes. Posey nailed a three-pointer to give the Hornets a 101-98 edge with 19 seconds left, a lead the visitors never relinquished.
Paul (22 points, including 20 in the second half) and Peja Stojakovic also bagged clutch three-pointers, part of a game-closing 16-9 run.
"This was a great win for our team," Paul said during his postgame TNT interview with Craig Sager. "I tried to be more aggressive in the second half."
The Hornets, who improved to 3-0 this season in national TV games, won for the fourth straight time.
"We're still not where we want to be," Paul said. "We've got a team that's trying to gel. But this is a big win for us."
Other news from Thursday's victory:
This was Rasual Butler's most significant contribution of what had already been a very positive opening month for the La Salle product. Butler went 7-for-8 from the field, including 4-of-5 on treys, while scoring 19 points. He also had three steals. Butler again replaced Morris Peterson (injured, inactive) as the starting shooting guard.
ELY MOVES UP
With Tyson Chandler not with the team after the birth of his second child earlier this week, Hilton Armstrong started at center again. His rough outing including five fouls and four turnovers in 11 minutes. Melvin Ely played 14 minutes, his most action since Nov. 1, and finished with eight points and four rebounds.
Sean Marks was on the floor for the first time this season. He threw down a dunk just seconds into his insertion into the lineup. Overall, he had two points and a board in six minutes of PT.
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES (Courtesy Denver Nuggets)
It was a game of runs all night long. They started off the game 14 4 and we came right back. It just kind of depends on who had the ball last. We got a couple big stops toward the end. They made some big plays; Kleizas three, Nene getting offensive rebound after the free-throw and getting it back to Carmelo tied the game up, but Peja hits a big three, Posey hits a big three, so it was one of those games that went back and forth all night long. Luckily we were on top at the end. We had a lot of guys play well tonight. It was good to see Sean Marks get an opportunity; I thought he did a pretty good job while he was in there. Peja looks like he is back to being Peja. He is back on track as far as getting his rhythm back. A lot of contribution from a lot of guys and we needed it.
(JR Smith couldnt really miss) I know JR real well thats one of my best friends. That three-point line is nothing to him. You leave him open like that and lights out. We are lucky he missed four threes. He has done a great job of mixing it up on how he is putting it on the floor. He is one of the most athletic guys in the league, so when he is driving, dunking it, hitting threes you got a problem. (What were they looking to do to take you out of the game offensively first half) They were trapping pretty well, but it was basically me letting the game come to me. We were winning in the first half and I had two points, maybe if I had that. I do that every night just try to let the game come to me and in the second half I just got a little more aggressive and we got out in transition. (Four wins in a row) This was a big win. This was a huge test for us. The game was great, you would be up three and then you would be done two. It really showed a lot of guts from our team and we persevered. Hopefully we can build off this win and carry our momentum into Portland.
Playing against a hot team like Denver, our initial start to the game we were able to build a little bit of momentum. We were able to carry it through. We made them take some difficult shots, even when they made a run we were still able to maintain our composure and we made some adjustments to the defense they were playing. We were able to make some plays when it counted. You know we were missing Tyson Chandler, so guys are going to be tired. We just had to make sure and cap off the game.