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Friday, March 18, 2011

Paul's sizzling play continues

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Chris Paul has decided to take a shoot-first, pass-later approach lately, and it's producing wins for a Hornets team that needs them to solidify its playoff hopes.

News photo
Showing the way: Chris Paul of the Hornets puts up a fadeaway jumper in front of the Suns' Jared Dudley on Wednesday night. New Orleans beat Phoenix 100-95. AP PHOTO

Paul had 26 points and nine assists, and New Orleans extended the Phoenix Suns' losing streak to four games, 100-95 on Wednesday night.

"I just try to be aggressive," Paul said. "I've learned, watching all the games, that if I'm aggressive early, it makes the defense collapse on me and it makes my teammates open even more."

In three games since his return from a mild concussion, Paul has averaged 28.7 points and 11.3 assists.

"He's being more aggressive, taking his shots and making himself a scoring threat," Hornets forward David West said. "He's putting pressure on guys to defend him."

Emeka Okafor had his first double-double in 11 games since returning from an injury in Phoenix, with 16 points and 11 rebounds. West added 16 points, including a long jumper to give New Orelans a 95-88 lead with 29.5 seconds to go.

Yet, despite winning for the fifth time in seven games, the Hornets could not help but express a measure of disappointment in themselves after nearly blowing a 19-point, third-quarter lead while the Suns, a club known for its outside shooting, made 14 3-pointers.

"I get frustrated because we have these mental lapses against teams that are sharp right now," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.

"We had some missed assignments. We were leaving shooters to rotate to non-shooters and then those guys are wide open and that's what they do — they knock down 3s. . . . To me, it's about personal responsibility."

76ers 104, Clippers 94

In Los Angeles, Jodie Meeks scored 22 points and Jrue Holiday added nine of his 20 in the final 6 1/2 minutes, leading Philadelphia to a victory over the Clippers.

Elton Brand had 19 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Sixers tie the idle New York Knicks for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Brand played for the Clippers for six seasons and left for free agency as their career rebounding leader and third-leading scorer.

Randy Foye led Los Angeles with 18 points and DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 15 rebounds.

The 76ers didn't treat Clippers All-Star rookie Blake Griffin too kindly on his 22nd birthday, forcing him to miss his first six shots and holding him to 14 points on 3-for-12 shooting.

Mavericks 112, Warriors 106

In Oakland, Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points and 13 rebounds, and Dallas rallied from 18 points down to beat Golden State.

Jason Terry scored 19 points and Rodrigue Beaubois had 18 to help the Mavericks score 15 consecutive points in the fourth quarter and pull away for the victory. Dallas (48-20) moved into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for second place in the Western Conference.

Monta Ellis had 26 points and 11 assists, and David Lee scored 22 in another disappointing defeat for a Warriors team seemingly headed for the draft lottery. They built a big lead with an incredible shooting start but couldn't keep pace late.

Thunder 96, Heat 85

In Miami, Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 18 as Oklahoma City frustrated the Heat's offense all night on the way to a win over the hosts.

James Harden scored 12 points for the Thunder, who have won five straight.

Chris Bosh had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 21 points and LeBron James finished with 19 for Miami, which has won three straight and has averaged 114 points in its last two games. The Thunder held the Heat to 38.5 percent shooting from the floor.

Celtics 92, Pacers 80

In Boston, Jeff Green scored 13 of his 19 points in the second quarter as the Celtics coasted past Indiana and moved back into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference.

Magic 93, Bucks 89 (OT)

In Milwaukee, Dwight Howard had 31 points and 22 rebounds to lead Orlando to an overtime victory over the Bucks that wrapped up a winning five-game road trip.

Nuggets 102, Hawks 87

In Atlanta, Nene scored 20 points and J.R. Smith added all of his 15 in the fourth quarter as Denver ran away to beat the Hawks.

Rockets 94, Bobcats 78

In Houston, Kevin Martin scored 21 points and Chuck Hayes matched his season high with 17 rebounds as the Rockets never trailed in a triumph over Charlotte.

Pistons 107, Raptors 93

In Auburn Hills, Mich., Richard Hamilton scored 24 points, and Greg Monroe added 21 points and 10 rebounds as Detroit ended a three-game losing streak by beating Toronto.

Cavaliers 97, Kings 93

In Sacramento, Ramon Sessions scored 20 points to lead Cleveland to a rare road victory over the Kings.

The Cavaliers, who snapped a four-game losing streak overall, have dropped 28 of 29 road games since Nov. 10.

Jazz 119, Timberwolves 104

In Salt Lake City, C.J. Miles scored a career-high 40 points and cemented his new starting role as Utah cruised past Minnesota, giving Ty Corbin his first back-to-back wins as coach.

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