Sunday , Jan , 15 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Paul leads Hornets past Rockets

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Rookie Chris Paul had 17 points, six rebounds
and five assists to lead the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets to an 86-80
victory over the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.

Desmond Mason added 16 points and six rebounds while P.J. Brown had 13 points
and 10 boards for the Hornets, who have won two straight after dropping
their previous two.

Juwan Howard netted 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Luther Head and
David Wesley each put in 18 points for the Rockets, who have lost their last
five games.

Rafer Alston had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the defeat for
Houston, which has dropped six straight at home and has not won in the city
since a December 6 victory against Boston.

“We didn’t guard the ball well and we didn’t help appropriately,” said Rockets
coach Jeff Van Gundy. “I think they (the Hornets) were probably sleepy a
little bit, not ready to play. I had a little bit to do with it. They turned
it up in the second half and we had no response.”

Houston had a 60-59 lead going into the final 12 minutes of the contest and
Howard nailed a turnaround hook shot to give the Rockets a six-point lead with
4:59 left.

However, the Hornets scored the next 10 points, with Brown putting in five
straight, Paul hitting 3-of-4 from the charity stripe and Speedy Claxton
banking in a jumper, to give them a 78-74 lead with 2:03 remaining.

The margin then grew to six points with 25 seconds left and the Hornets
escaped with the win.

“Even though we won the game we have a lot of things to learn from,” said
Hornets coach Byron Scott. “Our athleticism and our quickness are the keys to
our team and we need to use them to our advantage.”

The opening 12 minutes was a low-scoring affair and the Hornets had an 18-13
lead going into the second quarter.

Houston took the lead in the second and used a 13-5 run to take a 36-27 lead
after Wesley hit two free throws with a little over a minute remaining until
halftime. New Orleans/Oklahoma City closed the gap to make it a 36-31 game at
the break.

Game Notes

Claxton finished with 12 points and seven rebounds…West finished with 10
points and seven rebounds…Houston is 0-11 this season without star forward
Tracy McGrady, who has missed the last three games after being taken to the
hospital with severe back spasms during the team’s loss to Denver last
Sunday…The Hornets have won their last four games against the Rockets.