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Paul scores 26 points, adds 11 assists in Hornets' win

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The guard slashing to the basket and blowing
by defenders on the way down the court wasn't Kobe Bryant.

Chris Paul upstaged the Lakers' superstar with 26 points and 11
rebounds in the New Orleans Hornets' 105-89 victory Wednesday night
that snapped their season-high five-game losing streak.

"You won't be seeing too many dudes like that this season,
getting into the paint like that," said Bryant, who led Los
Angeles with 24 points. "I love his game."

Rasual Butler added 22 points and former Laker Jannero Pargo had
21 off the bench as coach Byron Scott beat the team he helped to
NBA championships during the Lakers' "Showtime" era.

"Where our team has changed so much is we didn't let (the
losing streak) bother us," Paul said. "Last year I think it would
have gotten us down and we would have thought about it too much.
But when you play 82 games in this league as fast as you lose them,
you can win them just as quick."

Lamar Odom added 20 for the Lakers, who had won three straight
before losing for the third time at home this season.

"They played with a lot more hunger than we did at key
moments," Bryant said, noting New Orleans came in off a five-day
layoff.

Bryant sprained his right ankle in Monday's 101-87 victory over
Indiana, and after testing it in a morning shootaround, he started
the game.

"It's sore right now," said Bryant, who estimated his ankle at
50 percent. "I couldn't run like I normally do, explode and get to
the basket."

Paul's 11 rebounds allowed New Orleans to dominate the boards,
49-31, including 20 offensive rebounds.

"That's what killed us," Bryant said. "They went after it
harder than we did in the paint."

Pargo sandwiched 3-pointers around a 7-0 run by the Lakers to
keep New Orleans ahead 85-81 in the fourth. His first 3 extended
the Hornets' lead to eight before Ronny Turiaf scored and Odom had
five in a row for the Lakers.

Bryant banked in an 11-footer, hit a jumper from the right
baseline and Odom's layup circled the rim before falling in to get
the Lakers to 93-87.

The Lakers were forced to settle for outside shots, but they
couldn't hit from long-range in the final 3 minutes. Luke Walton
missed twice and Odom missed a 3-pointer after turning the ball
over trying to inbound it.

"Lamar made one of the most unusual plays I've ever seen in
basketball," Jackson said, referring to Odom dribbling the ball
inbounds instead of passing it. "I've seen it once before in a
junior high game."

Bothered by a head cold, Odom committed seven of the Lakers' 17
turnovers.

"I played bad throughout the game. I'm not surprised by it at
all," he said. "We took it on the chin. That's the beauty of the
NBA. Everybody is good enough to win one game and they did."

Bryant's basket was the Lakers' only points in the final 5
minutes, when New Orleans built its first double-digit lead of the
game.

Paul assisted on Desmond Mason's alley-oop dunk before Butler's
follow dunk closed out the win.

"He controls the tempo well and has a nice feel for the game,"
Jackson said about Paul. "The number of times he took the ball
away from people in a scrum is an invaluable asset."

Usually a quarter of struggle for the Hornets, they outscored
the Lakers 21-19 in the third and led 75-71. Paul had nine points,
while the Lakers shot 41 percent and trailed except for two early
ties.

The Hornets were missing three injured starters who account for
46-plus points. Guard Bobby Jackson has a cracked left rib, guard
Peja Stojakovic has back spasms, and forward David West has been
sidelined with a strained right forearm.

Game notes
Jackson is no fan of the NBA's new game ball, changed from
leather to a microfiber composite, saying it cuts up coaches' hands
during practice. Commissioner David Stern has said he will take up
players' concerns with the ball's manufacturer. "I'm glad the
commissioner is as capable of being changable as President Bush is
on his policy in Iraq," Jackson joked, adding that if Stern
"doesn't give me a $25,000 fine, I'm all right." Jackson was
fined that amount last month for criticizing referees in a loss to
Utah.