OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The New Orleans Hornets got enough balance
throughout their lineup to beat Tracy McGrady and the Houston
Rockets -- barely.
David West was one of six players in double figures and made a
jumper with 1.8 seconds remaining in the Hornets' 92-90 victory
"I knew I was going to get that shot. It's a shot I've made
before many times," said West, who had 15 points. "I took my time
and hit it."
McGrady scored a season-best 38 and Stromile Swift had season
highs with 26 points and 13 rebounds, but the Rockets lost their
Wesley, who rotated over to defend West's shot, said the Rockets
wanted to make the Hornets take a jump shot and not allow the ball
"I can't see us defending it any differently," Wesley said.
J.R. Smith led the Hornets with 16, Rasual Butler had 15 -- all
in the fourth quarter -- and Desmond Mason scored 13. Speedy Claxton
had 14, and rookie Chris Paul scored 11 and added a career-high 15
assists, including on the game-winner by West.
Butler, averaging just 5.3 points, hit three straight 3-pointers
during a 13-1 run that gave the Hornets an 86-77 lead with 4:12 to
play. He added another jumper with 2:22 left for a 90-84 advantage.
"After I hit my first couple of shots, I knew I had it going a
little bit," Butler said.
The Rockets tied it at 90 on two free throws by McGrady with 12
seconds remaining. New Orleans went without a timeout and Paul
drove and found West open for his jumper.
"In the fourth quarter, we really showed our resilience and our
confidence in one another," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.
The Hornets forced the tempo in building a 12-point
first-quarter lead and led by as many as 11 with about 5 minutes
left in the second quarter.
McGrady and David Wesley led a run that allowed Houston to cut
the margin to 51-47 at halftime.
McGrady and Swift helped the Rockets open a nine-point lead late
in the third, when the Hornets were unable to play their preferred
faster pace. New Orleans also missed seven of 10 free throws in the
McGrady scored 21 points in the first half against Utah on
Tuesday night before leaving at halftime when he learned his
fiancee had gone into labor.
He had 23 in the first half against the Hornets and finished
11-of-25 from the field.
Smith, just 2-of-19 in New Orleans' previous three games,
was 6-of-12 against Houston. ... The Hornets hadn't played in four
days. Wednesday night started a stretch of four games in five days.
... A fan made a half-court shot during a timeout in the third
quarter to win a car, setting off one of the loudest roars of the
night from the crowd. ... Official Joe Forte had a memory lapse in
the first half when he called "Charlotte" for delay of game. The
Hornets left Charlotte after the 2001-02 season.