On multiple occasions over their four-plus seasons together with the Hornets, Chris Paul has set up fellow two-time NBA All-Star David West for a game-winning shot. The pair reversed roles tonight, but the end result was the same.
The Hornets trailed 96-95 and were inbounding with only 3.9 seconds left, but that was enough time for Paul to pass it in to West, who quickly fed the ball back to a cutting Paul for a go-ahead layup at 1.4 ticks remaining. A deep three-point heave by Minnesotas Wayne Ellington came up short, giving New Orleans (10-11) a comeback victory.
I saw that I was open backdoor, Paul said of dishing to West and immediately darting past Minnesota defender Jonny Flynn to get open. I caught the ball, closed my eyes and made the layup.
It seemed unlikely given how little time was left that Paul would be involved in the game-winner. Peja Stojakovic has canned several clutch shots in several situations, including one on the Wolves home floor during the 2006-07 season.
Peja was a decoy, Paul explained. But dont be fooled. We will use him at times (when the Hornets need a last-second shot), but right there he did his job.
New Orleans accomplished several objectives by coming back from a 16-point deficit in the second half, including:
Winning a third straight game since Paul returned to the lineup from his ankle injury. New Orleans has also won seven of its last 10 games overall.
Moving to within a game of .500 for the first time since the Hornets were 2-3 on Nov. 4. New Orleans can reach the break-even mark for the first time since it was 1-1 by defeating New York in Louisiana on Friday.
Ending a five-game road losing streak. New Orleans still is a long way from respectability in a away games (2-9 record), but unlike many other road contests, when the Hornets fell behind tonight they scratched and clawed to make it competitive, instead of falling by a one-sided margin.
(It was positive to) finally get a win on the road, Paul said. Hopefully this will be a step in the right direction. It was a good team win.
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