Monday , Feb , 27 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

West and Paul carry Hornets past struggling Portland

Portland, OR (Sports Network) – David West poured in 12 of his 22 points in
the fourth quarter, and rookie Chris Paul added 19 points and eight assists,
as New Orleans/Oklahoma City bested the Portland Trail Blazers, 88-75, at the
Rose Garden.

Rasual Butler tallied 13 points for the Hornets, who dominated the Blazers to
a 27-14 count in the final quarter to win for the 11th time in 14 games.

“Our intensity picked up in the second half and at halftime coach told us that
being in the position that we’re in, we have to take this game seriously,”
Paul said. “I thought we buckled down defensively in the second half. We
talked more. We got deflections. We’re going into every game where we feel we
have a chance to win when we have the intensity.”

Zach Randolph scored 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Darius
Miles ended with 22 points for Portland, which fell for a fifth straight time.
The Blazers, who shot just 1-of-9 from three-point range and 10-of-24 at the
foul line, have dropped nine of their last 10 contests.

The Hornets were tied going into the final quarter, but later stretched to
a nine-point advantage. A West jumper made the score 75-66 with 5:59
remaining. That capped eight straight points by the Hornets.

A Randolph jumper moved the Blazers within 75-69 with 5:02 left, but West
countered with a jumper and two free throws to supply the Hornets with more
breathing room.

Portland led 21-16 after one quarter, but the Hornets tied the game at 43 at
halftime and the contest was even at 61 going into the fourth.

The Blazers had newly acquired forward Brian Skinner and guard Voshon Lenard
in the game. Skinner had nine points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes, while
Lenard was scoreless in 17 minutes. Both were acquired on Thursday as part of
a deal involving Sacramento, Seattle and Denver.

“I was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing,” Skinner said. “I
wanted to get in there and run and obviously play some defense. We’ve got a
young team but that’s not an excuse. We’ve got a lot of young players that
just haven’t grasped it yet but we’ll get there.”

Game Notes

The Hornets went 3-1 versus the Blazers this season and have won seven of the
last nine meetings…Portland guard Sebastian Telfair sat out Sunday’s game,
the second of a two-game league-imposed suspension for carrying a loaded gun
on a flight two weeks ago…The Hornets held a 46-33 rebounding edge.