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Paul's 23 points, late FTs lift Hornets past Jazz

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz know all about Chris Paul
now.

Passed over by the Jazz in last year's draft for Deron Williams,
Paul had 23 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 25
seconds left, to help the New Orleans Hornets hold off Utah 100-95
Saturday night.

With the game tied at 95 and the shot clock running down, Paul
drove on Williams and was fouled. Paul made both foul shots to give
New Orleans a split in back-to-back games against the Jazz.

"Those free throws were huge. I was nervous. I'd be lying if I
said that I wasn't," Paul said.

Paul acknowledged that matching up with Williams makes the game
a little more special to him.

"They compare us so much. You hear an analyst saying I'm better
than him, and another saying he's better than me. You take that in
because that's my competitive nature," said Paul, who leads all
rookies in points and assists.

In the final seconds, P.J. Brown then stole the ball for the
Hornets and Kirk Snyder made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left.

"It was a winning play. We needed a stop and we weren't having
much success on the defensive end. I just anticipated the pass and
made the play," Brown said.

"We really buckled down when we had to. I think P.J. Brown's
steal was the play of the game," Paul said.

The short-handed Hornets got their first win after dropping
consecutive games following the All-Star break.

Williams earned his first start since December after leading the
Jazz to an 82-76 victory over New Orleans on Wednesday. But he
battled foul trouble trying to stay with Paul and finished with 14
points in 23 minutes.

David West, who returned after missing the Hornets' two losses
to be with his wife and newborn baby, had a dunk to give New
Orleans a 95-93 lead. West finished with 20 points and eight
rebounds.

"We got our main guy back and he played like he hadn't missed a
beat," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

Linton Johnson, who averaged 1.2 points in nine games with the
New Jersey Nets before a trade brought him to the Hornets, had a
career-high 17 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds.

"I've been on ice most of the year so I am just excited to get
up and down the court," Johnson said.

Added Scott: "He was really active on the boards and he made
some shots. We threw him in there early and he played really
well."

Mehmet Okur led Utah with 26 points and Carlos Boozer had a
season-high 15 points in his sixth game back from a hamstring
injury.

Matt Harpring's layup capped a 9-0 run that got Utah within
84-81 in the fourth quarter. Boozer scored with 2:35 to play to tie
it at 91.

Utah's Milt Palacio tied it again with 45 seconds remaining on a
fast-break dunk after receiving a spectacular behind-the-back pass
from Andrei Kirilenko on a scramble for a loose ball. But the Jazz
didn't score again.

"That was a winnable game for us, especially in the second
half. They executed and we didn't on the other end. The crashed the
boards; they were active," Okur said.

Palacio scored 11 for Utah, which has lost four of its last five
games.

The Jazz beat New Orleans 82-76 on Wednesday in a costly game
for the Hornets. They lost starting forward Desmond Mason with a
bruised tailbone and Jackson Vroman broke his right wrist and will
miss the rest of the season.

The Hornets outrebounded the Jazz, who lead the NBA in
rebounding and boasted a much taller lineup, by a 44-34 margin.

"Size doesn't make any difference. Heart is what makes a
difference," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "These guys over there
want to make the playoffs more than we do. That's indicated by the
way they play, how hard they play."

Game notes
Newly acquired forward Marc Jackson, who came with Johnson
from the Nets for forward Bostjan Nachbar, played 14 minutes and
had four points and four rebounds. ... Sloan coached his 1,400th
game with the Jazz. ... Hornets guard Speedy Claxton sat out with a
sprained ankle.