Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 4/2

Game 1: Sunday, April 2nd
Game 2: Friday, April 7th

Raptors 89

(26-50, 12-26 away)

Hornets 95


    Coverage: COX

    7:00 PM ET, April 7, 2006

    Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

    1 2 3 4 T
    TOR 19 28 19 2389
    NO 29 24 21 2195

    Top Performers

    Tor: M. James 36 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast

    NO: C. Paul 16 Pts, 3 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Hornets beat Raptors, keep pace in West race

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- P.J. Brown and Desmond Mason returned just in time to lead the New Orleans Hornets to a much-needed win in their push for the playoffs.

    David West scored 19 points and Chris Paul added 16, including a jumper in the final minute, to help the Hornets beat the Toronto Raptors 95-89 Friday night.

    Neither of the Hornets' two budding young stars were on the floor for the start of a 12-2 fourth-quarter run that gave New Orleans the cushion it needed to put the game away. Instead, it was the two gritty veterans -- Brown and Mason -- that helped lead the charge.

    "They're a big part of this basketball team," West said. "They play a big role in what we try to do."

    With the win, New Orleans remained two games behind eighth-place Sacramento, which beat the Clippers in Los Angeles later Friday night, for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

    The Hornets have seven games to go, including an April 16 trip to Sacramento.

    It was the Hornets' first game with all five starters healthy since March 12, a span of 12 games. Mason had missed 11 in a row with a sprained left knee. Brown was out for five games and West three in that stretch -- both with injured left ankles.

    "It's very important (to) make sure we've got all options available, everybody's ready to go and I think most importantly try to get that chemistry back," Brown said. "I've been out a week, Mase has been out three weeks. We bring different things to the game than what everybody else has been doing."

    Speedy Claxton hit a jumper, Kirk Snyder made a 3-pointer and Brown scored when his right-handed dunk attempt bounced off the rim and in. After a jumper by Toronto's Charlie Villanueva, Mason scored on a left-handed hook shot and Rasual Butler followed with a 3-pointer to give the Hornets an 88-72 lead.

    Even that wasn't safe against the Raptors, who rallied back from an 18-point second-half deficit in a 120-113 double-overtime win by the Hornets on Sunday in Toronto.

    The Raptors used a flurry of 3-pointers -- one by Matt Bonner and four by Mike James -- in this comeback, and Andre Barrett's follow shot made it 92-89 in the final minute.

    Paul beat the shot clock with a jumper with 24.2 seconds left to give New Orleans a five-point lead and James finally missed a 3-pointer to end Toronto's chances.

    "It's hard to come back when you dig such a deep hole for yourself," said James, who finished with 36 points -- two short of his career high -- on 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range.

    Villanueva added 14 points, Morris Peterson scored 13 on 2-for-14 shooting and Loren Woods pulled down 10 rebounds for Toronto. The Raptors have lost seven in a row, including their last six since losing leading scorer Chris Bosh to a sprained left thumb. It's their longest losing streak since starting the season 0-9.

    "It's tough," James said. "Being the end of the season, guys are banged up and the only motivation we have is our pride."

    Linton Johnson scored 13 points and Claxton added 11 for New Orleans, which has won five of its last six games.

    New Orleans opened the game on a 9-0 run and stretched its lead to 22-9 before James started pulling Toronto back. He scored 20 in the first half -- including all 10 of Toronto's points during one stretch -- and the Raptors trailed 53-47 after a 3-pointer by Johnson with 0.3 seconds left in the first half.

    Another 3 by Johnson gave New Orleans a 63-54 lead but Toronto kept it close until the very end.

    "For us, at times it got too close for comfort down the stretch," Mason said. "The one thing we need to continue to learn how to do is how to put teams away. We had a stretch during the season where we were doing that, consistently putting teams away. But recently we're letting guys hang around. That's something we can't do."

    Game notes

    Joey Graham, a former Oklahoma State forward who scored a career-high 19 points Sunday against New Orleans, replaced Eric Williams in Toronto's starting lineup. He scored nine points. ... Hornets coach Byron Scott said he expected forward Marcus Fizer to be re-signed to another 10-day contract as an insurance policy in case New Orleans had any more injuries to their frontcourt. Scott said he likes Fizer's post-up moves, his physical play and his passing. "We've had limited practices but from what I've seen of him in practice, I like what he does," Scott said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 95
    FGM-FGA 31-82 (.378) 39-79 (.494)
    3PM-3PA 13-35 (.371) 6-13 (.462)
    FTM-FTA 14-15 (.933) 11-18 (.611)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-40 8-43
    Assists 15 22
    Turnovers 13 14
    Steals 4 4
    Blocks 7 6
    Fast Break Points 7 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/0) 16 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 0 16

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Mike James James
    Points: 36
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Chris Paul Paul
    Points: 16
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1