Hornets.com postgame: Hornets 97, Timberwolves 96

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

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 Minnesota’s 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 don’t 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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