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 Hornets defeat Nets, 102-92

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PostSubject: Hornets defeat Nets, 102-92   Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:18 pm

NEW ORLEANS(AP) Another dominant performance
by Chris Paul made the absence of two starters seem like only a minor
inconvenience for the New Orleans Hornets.Paul narrowly missed
his fifth triple-double of the season with 29 points, nine rebounds and
eight assists, and New Orleans beat the New Jersey Nets 102-92 on
Wednesday night."The little fella is something special,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said of his 6-foot point guard.Vince
Carter scored 20 points for New Jersey but the Nets lost their fourth
straight, unable to take advantage of the absence of Hornets starters
Tyson Chandler (left ankle) and David West (back spasms). New Orleans
also was without Chandler's primary backup, Hilton Armstrong (left
knee).Peja Stojakovic had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Adjusting
his perimeter game to make up for the Hornets' lack of size, Stojakovic
sneaked inside to grab double-digit rebounds for the first time all
season and New Orleans wound up outrebounding New Jersey 42-37."We
talked about that the past couple days, that we all have to be
aggressive on both ends of the floor and help each other,'' Stojakovic
said. "I think the way we scrambled on the defensive end, we played
most of the minutes with a small lineup and had to gang-rebound.''Rasual Butler added 14 points for New Orleans, which has won three straight. Julian Wright had 11 points and James Posey 10.Gratified
by the victory, Paul deflected credit from himself to teammates like
Wright and fill-in starters Sean Marks and Melvin Ely, who played more
than double their normal minutes."It's a great win for us. Guys
had opportunities to step up and that's what they did,'' Paul said.
"It's going to be tough for us to keep this thing going, but as long as
we played like we did tonight, we're going to be fine.''Bobby
Simmons scored 16 points for the Nets and Keyon Dooling added 12, while
rookie Ryan Anderson grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and Jarvis Hayes
added 10 points.Bothered by a nagging rib injury, Devin Harris
played a little less than 28 minutes and was 1-of-11 shooting. He ended
up with six points.New Orleans put the Nets in a deep hole with
a 16-2 run that started with Ely's reverse layup early in the third
quarter. Stojakovic and Posey each added 3-pointers during the spurt
and Paul converted a spinning layup as he was grabbed by Carter, though
no foul was called.The Nets made matters worse for themselves
during that crucial stretch by starting 3-of-12 from the field and
turning the ball over five times, including three times on offensive
fouls."In the third quarter, frustration took over,'' Nets coach
Lawrence Frank said. "We missed some easy shots, we got some fouls
called against us. At times we did not take great shots.''Down
by 15 in the final period, the Nets made one last charge with a 9-2 run
ignited by Dooling's third 3 of the game and capped by Carter's
putback, cutting New Orleans' lead to 91-85 with 3:33 left.After
Paul hit a pull-up in the lane, Simmons' third 3 of the game cut it to
93-88 with 2:24 to go. New Jersey missed its next two shots, and Paul
hit a running floater as he was fouled with 59 seconds left, giving New
Orleans a 96-88 lead. Paul then added a fast-break, one-handed dunk to
punctuate his dominant night."Chris does a great job of
facilitating and comes up looking for his offense as well,'' Carter
said. "So when he's facilitating and making plays and then he's hitting
shots, they're a tough team to beat.''For the Nets, it was the
first game since Frank benched starters Carter and Harris for the
second half of a blowout loss to Boston, the reason being a poor first
half in which New Jersey started 1-of-9 from the field.Early on,
it seemed the Nets had gotten the message, surging in front by shooting
better than 50 percent for most of the first two periods. Simmons hit
two 3s and scored eight points in the opening quarter, then the Nets
took a 38-29 lead on Dooling's second 3-pointer of the second quarter.Paul
pulled New Orleans with eight points in the last six minutes of the
half and Wright scored inside in the final seconds of the quarter to
give the Hornets a 47-46 halftime lead."We let one slip away,''
Carter said. "But the positive I take out of it is that we were able to
fight back and not lay down. ... We lost by 10 points or so, but I
think guys continued to fight, continued to play hard just to chip away
and try to get ourselves back in it. ... They just did a great job of
closing us out.''

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