Sunday , Apr , 02 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Paul propels Hornets past Raptors in double-overtime

=== Paul propels Hornets past Raptors in double-overtime ===

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Chris Paul posted his first career triple-
double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the New
Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets past the Toronto Raptors in double-overtime,
120-113, at the Air Canada Centre.

David West had 23 points and six rebounds and Speedy Claxton added 10 points
and a career-high 12 assists for the Hornets, who have won three straight and
now trail Sacramento by two games for the final playoff spot in the Western
Conference.

“We are starting to play a little bit better now,” said Aaron Williams.
“Hopefully we can continue this for the rest of the regular season and into
the playoffs.”

Morris Peterson had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Charlie
Villanueva added 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for the Raptors, who
have dropped their past four games.

In the second overtime, Rasual Butler hit a three-pointer and Claxton
completed a three-point play to give the Hornets a 106-100 lead less than a
minute in.

Mike James nailed a trey to cut the deficit to 106-103, but Claxton hit two
free throws and set up Paul’s jumper to make it 111-103 with three minutes to
play.

Villanueva’s slam with 1:29 to play got Toronto back to within five, 112-107.
However, Linton Johnson and Paul made back-to-back baskets to seal the win for
the Hornets.

“It feels great,” said Paul about the win and the triple-double. “But it’s
just a win, it’s another game so now we just have to get ready for Detroit.”

James connected on a three-pointer and Matt Bonner hit a jump shot with 2:48
left in the first overtime to make it a 100-95 Toronto lead. However, a Butler
three-pointer and two free throws by Paul with 17.7 seconds left tied the
game back up.

Peterson had a chance to win it with time ticking down, but his jumper missed
and the game went to double overtime.

“We came up short tonight,” said Peterson. “We battled back, but we didn’t
play our brand of basketball.”

New Orleans/Oklahoma City led 80-72 to start the fourth quarter and increased
its lead when Williams slammed the ball home to make it 85-76 with 9:22 to
play. But, Toronto scored the next seven points and trailed 85-83 on Joey
Graham’s slam off an alley-oop pass from Andre Barrett with 8:08 left.

The Hornets, though, scored the next eight points and after Paul connected on
two from the charity stripe they had a 93-83 lead with 4:53 remaining.

However, Toronto came charging back and scored the next 12 points. James and
Peterson both connected on three-pointers and Graham’s two free throws with
2:01 left gave the club its first lead since the first quarter, 95-93.

After both sides missed baskets the Hornets Marc Jackson drained a jumper with
25.9 seconds left to tie the game up.

Following a timeout, James had the ball but he missed a running jumper as time
expired and the teams went into the extra session.

The Raptors had an early 11-4 lead after Villanueva hit a jumper with 8:05
left in the first quarter. The Hornets, though, used a 12-2 run to help them
take a 25-19 lead into the second quarter.

Toronto scored the first six points of the second to tie the game up at 25-25.
But, New Orleans/Oklahoma City went on a 11-1 run and eventually took a 53-42
lead into the locker room.

The Hornets grabbed their largest lead of the game when West connected on a
jumper to make it 74-56 with 5:18 left in the third quarter. But, the Raptors
were able to chip away at the deficit and thanks to back-to-back three-
pointers by Bonner, with the last coming with 0.4 seconds left, trailed by
eight points, 80-72, going into the final 12 minutes.

Game Notes

The Hornets travel to Detroit for a game on Tuesday…Toronto visits Boston
for a game on Tuesday…Toronto is 1-9 in overtime while the Hornets are 1-2
when going to extra sessions this season…Butler finished with 17 points and
Jackson ended the game with 16…James had 15 points and 10 assists and Graham
ended with 19 points and seven rebounds…Toronto hit 39.8 percent of its
shots and went 12-for-31 from behind the arc…The Hornets made 45.5 percent
of their shots…The Hornets snapped a five-game losing streak against
Toronto.

NOH TOR