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Randolph, Blazers overcome 27-point hole, nip Hornets

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Zach Randolph just wouldn't let the
Portland Trail Blazers lose -- no matter how big the Hornets' lead
grew.

Randolph had 31 points, including the go-ahead free throw with
2.4 seconds left, and the Trail Blazers rallied from a 27-point
deficit to shock New Orleans 92-91 Friday night, the biggest
collapse in Hornets history.

Peja Stojakovic scored 21 points for the Hornets, who blew
25-point leads in losses on two occasions. Desmond Mason had 16 of
his 18 points in the first quarter for the Hornets, who lost their
second straight game after a franchise-best 4-0 start.

"This should have been over early," said Hornets point guard
Chris Paul, who had 12 points and eight assists. "We just let them
back in it. We just lost."

Stojakovic tied the game at 91-all, hitting a 3-pointer with 5.2
seconds left, but Randolph drew a foul and went 1-of-2 at the line.
Stojakovic launched a shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer that
bounced off the back rim.

Travis Outlaw had 16 points, six rebounds and six blocks for the
Blazers, who were led by assistant Dean Demopoulos with coach Nate
McMillan away after the death of a family member.

"This team made this comeback and did it for Nate," Demopoulos
said. "I thought the kids showed some amazing resilience. What
impressed me is they kept listening to coaches and we got good
feedback from them at timeouts."

New Orleans scored 38 points in the first quarter, and led 40-13
early in the second. But the Hornets had just 33 points combined in
the second and third.

"Right after the first quarter we were a completely different
team," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "This is a game in
March we're going to look back on and kick ourselves."

Jarrett Jack had 13 points and five assists for the Blazers, who
are 3-0 this season at home.

Randolph, a 91 percent free throw shooter entering the game,
made 15 of 16 free throws for the Blazers and led their charge
back.

Scoreless with 4:12 left in the second quarter, Randolph had 12
of the Blazers' last 14 points in the half and Portland put
together an 18-4 run to cut the lead to 53-44.

Randolph, who came into camp in the best shape of his career,
has had a dominating start to the season, averaging 28.5 points and
10.5 rebounds per game.

"He is one of the most significant forces in the NBA right
now," Demopoulos said.

The Hornets were up 63-51 in the third when Tyson Chandler
picked up two quick technical fouls and was ejected for arguing
after fouling Jamaal Magloire.

Jack made the two technicals and Magloire missed the two foul
shots, but Randolph grabbed the rebound and converted a three-point
play to cut the lead to seven. Minutes later, Ime Udoka cut the
lead to one with a 3-pointer.

Randolph gave the Blazers their first lead with seven minutes
left in the game, with a three-point play that made it 78-76.

David West had 17 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans.
Reserve Bobby Jackson added 15 points.

Paul was coming off a career-high 34-point game in Thursday's
loss to Golden State and has double-doubles in four of the Hornets'
six games this season.

Blazers rookie Brandon Roy, who missed the last game with a heel
injury, started but played just seven minutes before leaving the
game.<
^Notes@: LaMarcus Aldridge, the second pick in the NBA draft,
dressed for the first time this season for the short-handed
Blazers. He is recovering from a shoulder injury and could make his
debut Sunday against Dallas. ... New Orleans went 3-1 against the
Blazers in 2005-06, winning the last three meetings. The Hornets
had won seven of the past eight games against the Blazers at the
Rose Garden. ... Portland's Darius Miles will have arthroscopic
surgery on his right knee Tuesday in New York to fix some loose
cartilage. It's the same knee he had operated on last December.