Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 2/1

Game 1: Wednesday, February 1st
Game 2: Friday, March 24th

Bulls 95

(20-25, 10-12 away)

Hornets 100

(23-22, 14-8 home)

    Coverage: COX

    7:00 PM ET, February 1, 2006

    Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHI 23 19 29 2495
    NO 22 31 23 24100

    Top Performers

    Chi: K. Hinrich 20 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast

    NO: C. Paul 25 Pts, 4 Reb, 13 Ast, 3 Stl

    Paul's late heroics help Hornets stave off Bulls

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- New Orleans Hornets rookie Chris Paul prevented the Chicago Bulls from completing a big comeback.

    The Bulls, who almost overcame a 30-point deficit in a four-point loss to Dallas on Tuesday, dug themselves out of a 17-point hole before Paul took over and led the Hornets to a 100-95 victory Wednesday night.

    Paul had 25 points -- 11 in the final 5 minutes -- and 13 assists, showing why he was named the Western Conference rookie of the month earlier in the day for the third straight time.

    "He really just blew me away," said new teammate Aaron Williams, acquired from Toronto on Tuesday. "He's got a special talent."

    Chicago fell behind 64-47 in the opening minutes of the third quarter, then held the Hornets to just four field goals in the final 8:35 in cutting the deficit to 74-71 with a 10-0 run that Ben Gordon capped with a pair of 3-pointers.

    The Bulls took a 90-89 lead on a follow by Darius Songaila with 2:45 to play. The putback finished a 15-5 spurt during which Paul scored all of New Orleans' points.

    After David West made two free throws to give the Hornets the lead, Paul scored on a spinning drive in close. He added a jumper with 1:16 to play to push the lead to 95-90, then hit two free throws with 28.7 seconds left after stealing the ball from Gordon.

    "It was his willingness and determination," Hornets center P.J. Brown said. "He was willing to go out and get it done."

    Paul said his late performance "was just sort of the way things fell in place."

    "We weren't being aggressive," he said. "Coach told us to push the ball up the court and not make it a halfcourt game."

    Chicago coach Scott Skiles liked his team's resilience but said a few bad plays -- and Paul -- made the difference.

    "Paul pretty much had his way with us the whole night," Skiles said.

    Kirk Snyder scored 15 and Rasual Butler had 14 points for the Hornets, who announced Tuesday they would remain in Oklahoma City next season. At 23-22, they are above .500 for the first time since Dec. 2, when they were 8-7.

    Kirk Hinrich scored 20, and Luol Deng and Darius Songaila added 18 points apiece for the Bulls.

    The teams plodded through the first 20 minutes before the Hornets got going and took a 53-42 halftime lead. With Paul directing things, Butler hit 3-pointers at the start and end of a 12-0 run that gave New Orleans a 13-point lead.

    Chicago made just six field goals in the first quarter but went 9-for-12 from the line. The Hornets struggled as well but managed to stay close despite West, their leading scorer, going to the bench with two fouls just 5 minutes in.

    Game notes

    Williams had eight points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. ... Skiles got hit with a technical in the second quarter for walking to halfcourt to argue a foul called against Songaila. ... Paul will play in the rookie challenge Feb. 17 as part of All-Star weekend. ... The Bulls are off to an 0-2 start to their seven-game, 14-day road trip. "We put a lot of emphasis on this West Coast trip," Hinrich said. "We've got to turn it around quick."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 95 100
    FGM-FGA 33-73 (.452) 36-82 (.439)
    3PM-3PA 8-21 (.381) 5-14 (.357)
    FTM-FTA 21-30 (.700) 23-31 (.742)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-45 6-34
    Assists 19 21
    Turnovers 18 8
    Steals 2 8
    Blocks 4 5
    Fast Break Points 9 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (2/0) 26 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 5 17

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Kirk Hinrich Hinrich
    Points: 20
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Chris Paul Paul
    Points: 25
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 13
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0