Wednesday , Dec , 28 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

West’s buzzer-beater gives Hornets victory over Rockets

=== West’s buzzer-beater gives Hornets victory over Rockets ===

Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) – David West knocked down a jump shot with
1.4 seconds remaining to give New Orleans/Oklahoma City a 92-90 victory over
Houston at the Ford Center.

J.R. Smith led a balanced Hornets scoring attack with 16 points, while West
finished with 15 in the win, which stopped a two-game slide. Rasual Butler
netted all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, while rookie Chris Paul
dished out a career-best 15 assists to go along with 11 points.

“It’s a huge win,” said Hornets guard Desmond Mason. “Rasual made a lot of big
shots towards the end and David came up big. We’re not there yet, but tonight
was a big step for us.”

The loss, the Rockets’ fourth in a row, overshadowed outstanding individual
efforts from Tracy McGrady and Stromile Swift. McGrady poured in a season-best
38 points, while Swift contributed 26 points and 13 rebounds.

The Hornets held a 90-84 lead with two minutes to go, but Houston would score
the next six points to draw even. McGrady fed Swift for an inside bucket with
48 seconds left to bring Houston within 90-88, and McGrady drew a foul from
West with 12 seconds on the clock before calmly sinking both attempts to tie
the game.

After Houston’s Luther Head stopped play by fouling Paul with eight seconds to
go, the Hornets inbounded and Paul found West open for the game-winning 20-
footer.

The Rockets trailed by double digits late in the first half before closing it
out with a 6-0 run to cut their deficit to 51-47 at intermission. Behind Swift
and McGrady, Houston embarked on a 9-2 spurt in the third quarter which put
the visitors up 64-59 with five minutes left in the period.

A McGrady three-pointer and a Swift jumper later on extended the Rockets’ lead
to 71-62 late in the third quarter, but Speedy Claxton’s triple ignited a 6-1
burst that pulled the Hornets within 72-68 heading into the final 12 minutes.

Houston was up 76-73 with eight minutes left, but the Hornets reeled off 13 of
the next 14 points to build a nine-point cushion. Butler had 11 points during
the run, including a three-pointer that put the hosts ahead 86-77 with 4:16 to
play.

“Rasual did a heck of a job making shots and Chris (Paul) did a great job of
feeding him,” said Hornets head coach Byron Scott. “(Butler) is getting
comfortable out there and needs to put together a stretch of good games.”

The Rockets would chip away and trimmed the lead to 88-84 on a Swift layup off
a McGrady assist with 2:39 left.

“(Swift) had a breakout game,” remarked McGrady. “He did a great job of being
active on both ends of the court. With guys out, Yao (Ming) being out, that’s
really what we need of Stro’ night in and night out.”

Game Notes

Dikembe Mutombo pulled down a season-best 10 rebounds for Houston, which shot
just 37 percent from the field…Claxton ended with 14 points for the Hornets,
who improved to 7-5 as the home team this year…The Hornets have won three
straight from Houston after losing nine of the previous 11 meetings between
the clubs…The Hornets went just 14-of-26 from the free throw line.

HOU NOH