Hornets lose Claxton, Paul, rally to beat Sonics

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The New Orleans Hornets might not have won
a game like this back in December.

On a night when star rookie point guard Chris Paul and backup
Speedy Claxton each left with injuries and Seattle's Rashard Lewis
scored 34 points, the Hornets managed to beat the SuperSonics
109-102 on Wednesday.

Kirk Snyder, forced out of his usual off-guard spot, had 16
points and a career-high 12 assists in 45 minutes, also a career
best for the second-year player. David West had 26 points and 10
rebounds and P.J. Brown scored 21 with nine rebounds.

"It shows the character of this team," said Desmond Mason, who
had 15 points and spent time at the point. "I think we're getting
more confidence in ourselves. It shows we have grown as a
basketball team."

Rasual Butler's 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining gave New
Orleans a 105-102 lead. The Hornets made two defensive stops after
that and sealed the victory with free throws by Brown and Mason.

Paul played 20 minutes, leaving for good early in the third
quarter with bruised ribs. A blow to the head left Claxton with a
mild concussion. He played less than a minute in the second

"Hopefully, one of them will be back soon -- soon being
Friday," coach Byron Scott said. Without Paul and Claxton, "It
puts a lot more emphasis on guys to play a lot more minutes. But
that's pro basketball. You've got to be ready to play."

Lewis was the star for Seattle, which went winless during a
four-game road trip. He hit three 3-pointers during an 11-4 run
that gave the Sonics a 93-88 lead with 4:51 remaining. He came
through again with 1:03 to play, hitting from long range for a
102-100 lead after Ray Allen's shot in the lane was blocked by

West tied it with two free throws with 42 seconds left. After
Luke Ridnour missed a jump shot, Butler sank his 3-pointer from the
right wing to give New Orleans the lead for good.

"We played well enough to win, but we just didn't get it
done," Sonics forward Nick Collison said. "Rashard played very
well for us making big shots in the fourth. They made big plays
down the stretch."

Allen scored 18 on 6-of-21 shooting, and Ridnour had 12 points
and nine assists.

Paul, already bothered by a sore lower back from a fall Monday
against New Jersey, left with 7:01 remaining in the second quarter
after colliding with Collison on a drive to the basket.

The Hornets led by nine at the time but made only two field
goals the rest of the quarter and committed four turnovers as
Seattle came back to tie it at 47 at halftime. Allen, scoreless in
the first quarter, had 13 in the second to lead the Sonics back
from what was a 16-point deficit.

Paul played the first 3:21 of the third quarter, picking up a
basket and an assist, but then checked out for good.

Game notes
Before the game, the Hornets rescinded their trade for
Philadelphia 76ers reserve center Steven Hunter. "We'll go back to
the drawing board," Scott said. "We had different scenarios drawn
up before we got Steven, so we'll go to plan B." ... Attendance
was 18,807 on a night when Oklahoma played Oklahoma State in a
basketball game televised statewide and the ninth-ranked Oklahoma
women's team played at home.