(40-19, 20-9 away)
(18-42, 12-18 home)
7:30 PM ET, March 3, 2008
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Paul scored 27 points and had a hand in three clutch baskets in the final minutes, leading the Hornets to a 100-88 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
Paul made two of those buckets himself and found Chandler for an alley-oop dunk on the other, part of the Hornets' 10-0 run to close the game.
"Tyson is one of the most athletic centers in the league," Paul said. "Nate Robinson was talking to me out there on the court and he was like, 'Wish I had a big guy who could go up to the rim like that.' It's amazing how much him doing that has changed my game. I take it for granted that when he's not in the game with me, it's like 'What am I going to do?'"
Maybe just win it by himself. It looked as if he could have while speeding by the Knicks for 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the second half.
"As I said before the game, he's great. He's just as good in person as he is when you watch him on tape," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "I thought Nate in the first half did a good job in terms of applying pressure and trying to keep up with him, and then he got in foul trouble and I thought that took away some of his aggressiveness."
Chandler added 15 points and 18 rebounds for the Hornets, who sent the Knicks (18-42) to their seventh straight losing season. They did it by controlling the final minutes behind Paul, who finished with eight assists, five rebounds and three steals.
"That's what great players do," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Either make a play for themselves or make a play for their teammates. He did a real good job of getting to the basket. And when he wasn't getting to the basket he was finding open guys."
The Hornets pulled within 1½ games of Southwest Division leader San Antonio, which is percentage points ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference. New Orleans is third.
Thomas gave more playing time than usual to the young players at the end of his bench: Wilson Chandler, Randolph Morris and Mardy Collins. But he made a curious substitution with 1:33 left and the Knicks in possession in the frontcourt trailing by four, sending Chandler in for Robinson, one of New York's best offensive players -- a move that brought immediate boos.
Robinson had 17 points and David Lee grabbed 16 rebounds.
The Hornets fell apart in the fourth quarter of a 101-84 loss in Washington on Sunday, but handled the closing minutes much better in this one. With New Orleans up 90-88, Paul made a floater with 1:46 remaining, then found Chandler for an alley-oop dunk about 40 seconds later, a play New Orleans had struggled to pull off on a couple of earlier tries.
Paul closed the decisive stretch by converting a three-point play with 43 seconds left, making it 97-88.
"Coach usually sits me the first six minutes of the fourth quarter and I was sitting over there telling him, 'Let me go back, let me go back,'" Paul said. "But he made me wait it out and at the end that's when we usually try to push the tempo a little bit more and get aggressive.
"We do a lot of pick-and-rolls and a lot of them you've got to choose your poison. Either you're going to let me drive or Tyson is going to go to the rim."
New Orleans (40-19) surpassed its win total from last season. David West finished with 19 points.
There were 19 lead changes in the first half, which ended in a 49-49 tie after the Knicks' Jared Jeffries just beat the buzzer with a fast-break dunk. Paul scored 14 points in the third quarter, helping New Orleans take a 75-73 lead.
Trying to shoot down reports that Stephon Marbury has been told to stay away from the Knicks while rehabbing after ankle surgery, Thomas said he expected his point guard at the game and available for questions. But when asked if there were any restrictions on Marbury, Thomas ended his pregame news conference after about three minutes. However, a Knicks official said Marbury wasn't at the game. Thomas refused to address the matter again after the game. ... The Hornets were without swingman Bonzi Wells, who aggravated a sore Achilles tendon Sunday.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||38-88 (.432)||35-86 (.407)|
|3PM-3PA||10-25 (.400)||5-14 (.357)|
|FTM-FTA||14-20 (.700)||13-20 (.650)|
|Fast Break Points||4||4|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (1/0)||22 (0/0)|