Turned out, they didn't have to. The Hornets pretty much took the last five minutes off.
Al Harrington scored 28 points and the Knicks scored the game's final 18 points to beat the Hornets 113-96 on Friday night.
"Our defense was horrible," Paul said. "We've had a few games where our defense was good, but not tonight, and it was obvious we couldn't buy a shot."
The Knicks won their fourth straight for the first time since winning six in a row from Jan. 2-13, 2006. The Hornets lost for the first time in seven home games.
New York trailed 96-95 with less than five minutes left, but Harrington and Chris Duhon hit a barrage of baskets. Duhon sank back-to-back 3-pointers, and Harrington followed with two more as the Knicks put the game away.
"Everybody hit big shots, one after another," New York coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We were moving the ball really well. We're just playing really well right now."
Duhon scored 22 points, and Wilson Chandler added 20 before fouling out with 5:15 left. David Lee, who scored a season-high 28 points when the Knicks beat the Hornets in New York, contributed 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
David West scored 20 to lead New Orleans, and Paul added 13 points and 13 assists. The Hornets, who scored a season-high 62 points in the first half, managed just nine field goals in the second half and did not score after James Posey's putback gave them a 96-95 led with 4:57 left.
"We just tried to force them to keep shooting jump shots with a hand in their face," Lee said. "Our energy is better and we're helping better on defense."
Duhon hit a long 3-pointer 14 seconds later, starting the onslaught. By the time the Hornets called a timeout with 2:59 left, they trailed 104-96. Harrington finished them off with another 3 on New York's next possession.
The Knicks took their first lead of the game with a 12-3 run early in the third quarter. Harrington and Chandler scored inside before Duhon hit consecutive 3-pointers. His second 3 put the Knicks ahead 70-69 at the 6:13 mark. Neither team led by more than four for the rest of the quarter, but Jared Jeffries made his only basket of the night to give New York an 81-79 advantage entering the fourth.
"We were definitely in a deep hole, and now we've put ourselves back in the opportunity go get into the playoffs, which is our goal," Duhon said. "We're definitely back in it. We just have to keep going."
Earlier Friday, the Hornets announced forward Ike Diogu, who had not played this year after being signed as a free agent in July, will have season-ending micro-fracture surgery next Tuesday on his injured left knee. He has career averages of 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds. ... Eddy Curry for the Knicks returned after missing seven games with a sore left knee. He played 6:34 in the first half, scoring two points, and sat out the second half. ... The Knicks' Larry Hughes had a four-point play to start the second quarter, hitting a 3 and making a free throw after being fouled by Hornets rookie Darren Collison.