New Orleans Sports Scuttlebutt 3/30/09

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by Clay A. Smith

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CP3 and Coach Scott

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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Key losses against beatable opponents such as the Denver Nuggets(101-88) and the New York Knicks (103,-93) had the Hornets stumbling at the wrong time of the season. But the short-handed Hornets, lead by Chris Paul's 26 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals and David West's 23 point 16 rebound double-double pulled out a much needed late season thriller.

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The Hornets shot 37 percent from the field but shot 32-of-33 from the free-throw line. San Antonio only got 21 attempts-a big reason for the Hornets' win.

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Paul started slow, but his19 point second half and heady decision making down the stretch helped decide the game's outcome. With 25 seconds left and the Hornets, who played well for much of the second half, up by seven San Antonio's Manu Ginobili made a three-pointer to make the score 87-83. On the ensuing in-bounds play, Ginobili forced a turnover resulting in a Michael Finley three-pointer to make it a one point game.

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But with seven seconds left Chris Paul not only had the awareness to extend the play, burning as much time as possible, he launched a three-pointer just past the time line as Ginobili committed a desperation foul. Paul's three free-throws put the game out of reach for San Antonio but more importantly for  seventh seed New Orleans, it kept them from dropping further down in the standings.

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