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Jackson, Paul help Hornets squeak past Grizzlies

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Before a midseason trade to New Orleans,
Marc Jackson rarely got off the bench. Now he's doing his best to
lead the Hornets to the playoffs.

With Hornets leading scorer David West out with an injury,
Jackson scored a season-high 24 points and Chris Paul added 21
points, including a three-point play with 20.9 seconds left, to
help New Orleans beat Memphis 107-102 on Friday night.

A seldom-used reserve before he was traded from New Jersey on
Feb. 23, Jackson has proved to be a key pickup for the Hornets.

Jackson had 16 points in the Hornets' win Wednesday at Golden
State that followed a string of 12 losses in 13 games. He was
10-for-16 from the field and had seven rebounds on Friday.

"I'm getting an opportunity to help the team here, and I'm just
happy to get the opportunity," Jackson said.

Jackson drove right at Pau Gasol on consecutive possessions in
the fourth quarter, the first time putting back his own miss and
the second time sinking a pullup jumper in the lane for a 97-94 New
Orleans lead. Speedy Claxton followed with another pullup jumper
for the Hornets, but Bobby Jackson answered with back-to-back
driving layups to pull Memphis within 99-98.

Paul then dribbled the shot clock into single digits before
curling around the right side for a layup that led to his
three-point play.

Paul and Linton Johnson were 4-for-4 from the free throw line
down the stretch to seal the game for New Orleans. Rasual Butler
scored 15 points, Johnson added 14 and J.R. Smith had 10 for the
Hornets.

Bobby Jackson came off the bench to lead Memphis with 26 points.
Shane Battier scored 24 and Mike Miller added 23. Gasol had 14, but
fell two points shy of setting a new five-game scoring record for
Memphis. He has 148 points in the Grizzlies' last five games -- two
short of the franchise record set by Shareef Abdur-Rahim in
February 1999.

Hornets coach Byron Scott said he thinks the difference in
Jackson lately is that he is growing more comfortable in the team's
offense.

"When you can take the thinking part out of it and you can just
play and react, it makes the game a lot easier," Scott said.
"Right now, he's just playing."

The Hornets pulled ahead with an 8-0 run started by a
tiebreaking dunk by Aaron Williams. Paul followed with back-to-back
baskets and Marc Jackson hit a jumper from just behind the free
throw line for a 54-46 New Orleans lead.

Memphis used a 12-4 run to go up 70-69 when Bobby Jackson hit
3-pointers on consecutive possessions. The Grizzlies led 72-71
entering the final period but ended up losing their third in a row
after a seven-game winning streak.

"We're not a very good team this year because of games we've
lost when major components of other teams are out," Battier said.
"I don't know if there's a stat for that. It seems like every time
a guy gets ejected or misses a game, we can't win those games."

After falling from sixth in the West all the way to 10th, the
Hornets won back-to-back games for the first time in March.

"The sense is about the same. The only difference is right now,
I think our guys are starting to understand that we have to play
playoff-type basketball," Scott said. "We can't take plays off.
We can't take days off. We have to understand every play is
important. Every time we have the ball on offense, that possession
is important. I think we're finally starting to understand that.

"Is it too late? I don't know. We'll just have to wait and
see."

Game notes
NBA legal counsel Joel Litvin and Clayton Bennett, the
Oklahoma City businessman in discussions to buy a minority stake in
the Hornets, sat side-by-side in front-row baseline seats. ... The
Hornets waived injured forward Jackson Vroman (broken right wrist)
and filled his spot by signing another former Iowa State player,
NBA Developmental League MVP Marcus Fizer, to a 10-day contract.
... Hornets coach Byron Scott said P.J. Brown, who sprained his
left ankle in the fourth quarter Wednesday against Golden State,
could miss six games.