Snyder leads Hornets over Blazers in Paul’s return
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) – Kirk Snyder scored 22 points and five
other New Orleans/Oklahoma City players finished in double figures as the red-
hot Hornets posted an easy 102-86 victory over Portland at the Ford Center.
Aaron Williams recorded 14 points and eight rebounds while Desmond Mason
netted 13 points for the Hornets, who extended their win streak to a season-
best five games and head into the All-Star break having won nine of 10.
“Honestly, if you had asked me if this was possible at the start of the
season, I would have said yes,” said Snyder on the team’s strong first half of
the season. “We have talented guys and it’s just a matter of us playing
together, so I’m not surprised.”
The Hornets also received a boost with the return of point guard Chris Paul,
who missed the team’s last three games due to bruised ribs. The Rookie of the
Year candidate had just one point in 21-plus minutes, but dished out seven
assists against just one turnover.
New Orleans/Oklahoma City dominated the Trail Blazers, who have dropped five
of six, in all facets. The Hornets held Portland to just 33 percent shooting
in the first half to build an 18-point lead, recorded a 51-38 rebounding
advantage and 52-36 edge in points in the paint.
Zach Randolph and Juan Dixon each had 12 points for Portland, which stumbles
into the break with the Western Conference’s worst record (18-33).
“We are begging guys to compete and do things that you expect in the NBA,”
said Blazers head coach Nate McMillan. “Nights like this when we’ve had rest,
mentally we’ve got to be ready to go.”
Up 28-21 after one quarter, the Hornets began the second with an 11-1 run to
break things open.
Speedy Claxton had six of those points, including a layup off a Paul feed less
than three minutes into the period which put the hosts up 37-22. Claxton drove
the lane and scored shortly afterward to extend the margin to 17 points.
Portland didn’t make a field goal in the second quarter until Randolph hit a
short hook with 7:43 remaining before intermission, and trailed big over the
rest of the period.
Snyder, who put up 12 first-half points, sunk two foul shots in the final
minute to give the Hornets a 20-point bulge, and New Orleans/Oklahoma City
took a cozy 52-34 advantage into the locker room.
The Hornets kept pouring it on during the third quarter, and the cushion
swelled to 23 points after P.J. Brown made two foul shots to make the score
67-44 with five minutes to go in the session. New Orleans/Oklahoma City
entered the final 12 minutes holding a 73-49 lead.
Portland trailed by as much as 27 points in the fourth quarter before
embarking on a 9-2 run to somewhat close the gap.
The Hornets last won five games in a row to close out the 2002-03
campaign…New Orleans/Oklahoma City has won seven straight at home and
improved to 19-8 as the host this season…Portland’s Darius Miles had 10
points and five rebounds in his second game back since missing over two months
with an injured knee…The Hornets have taken two of the three meetings
between the clubs this year, which the home team winning each time.