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Chris Paul returns; Hornets sting Mavs 115-99
By Paul Levine Mar 23, 2010, 8:19 GMT
Los Angeles - Chris Paul returned to the New Orleans Hornets' lineup, and the buzz was back in the hive.
Rookie Marcus Thornton scored 28 points Monday night, David West had 25 with a career-high 10 assists and the Hornets welcomed back Paul by stinging the visiting Dallas Mavericks 115-99.
'It was great having 'CP' out there even though he didn't play a lot,' Thornton said of Paul, who was limited to 21 minutes. 'Just having him as a floor leader was great. We fed off of that.'
'He's our main guy, so anytime you can get him back in the lineup, you know he's going to have an effect on the game,' West said of the three-time All-Star point guard. 'I thought for his first game back in a month, he was fine.'
After missing 25 games after surgery on his left knee nearly two months ago, Paul started and scored all 11 of his points in the final quarter to go along with three assists.
'I was just happy to get out there on the court,' Paul said. 'I wasn't worrying about scoring or anything like that. I just wanted to try to get the feel back and get the win.'
Mo Peterson had a season-high 20, and rookie Darren Collison added 16 for the Hornets (34-38), which snapped a three-game slide with their fourth win in the past 16 games.
'We fed off the energy that the crowd was giving him,' Collison said.
Jason Terry scored 24 while German Dirk Nowitzki added 16 for the Mavericks (46-24), which blew an early 16-point cushion en route to their third loss in the past four games after winning a season-high 13 in a row.
'We got up 15 points, and then basically called it quits,' said Dallas forward Shawn Marion, who finished with 14 points. 'I think we just took it on the chin. We stopped everything we were doing. We got relaxed, they got aggressive and started getting comfortable and making shots. That was basically it.'
The Hornets trailed 27-11 before cutting the Mavericks' lead to 45-37 and then taking control with a 23-0 run, bridging the second and third quarters to go ahead for good 60-45 on Thornton's three-pointer a minute into the second half.
The Hornets led 84-70 when Paul scored his first points on a baseline jumper with 11:05 left in the game. He later added three triples, the last one making it 109-88 with 3:06 remaining before leaving to a thunderous ovation with just more than a minute remaining.
'The [three] shots I was missing in the first half, I was wide open,' Paul said. 'I felt like in the second half, if I got the opportunity again, I had to make those shots because I was embarrassed that they were just leaving me.'
San Antonio Spurs 99, Oklahoma City Thunder 96
George Hill scored a career-high 27 points, Argentine ace Manu Ginobili added 21, including three critical free throws in the final 32 seconds, and the visiting Spurs (42-27) withstood Kevin Durant's 45 to pull into a sixth-place tie with the Thunder (42-27) in the Western Conference playoff race.
Utah Jazz 110, Boston Celtics 97
CJ Miles scored 23 points, and Deron Williams had 22 and 11 assists as the Jazz (46-25) stopped the Celtics' (45-25) winning streak at four.
Phoenix Suns 133, Golden State Warriors 131
Amare Stoudemire scored 37 points, Jason Richardson added a season-best 34, and the visiting Suns (45-26) held off a late charge to escape the Warriors for their fifth-consecutive victory.
Monta Ellis scored 30 for Golden State (19-51) while Reggie Williams had a career-high 29.
Miami Heat 99, New Jersey Nets 89
Dwyane Wade had 27 points with 12 assists, Jermaine O'Neal scored 25 and the visiting Heat (37-34) handed the league-worst Nets (7-63) their eighth-straight loss.
Orlando Magic 109, Philadelphia 76ers 93
Rashard Lewis scored 24 points, Dwight Howard had 23 with 15 rebounds, and the visiting Magic (50-21) rolled to its 10th win in the past 11 games.
Chicago Bulls 98, Houston Rockets 88
Derrick Rose had 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, carrying the host Bulls (33-37) to back-to-back victories after a season-high 10-game skid.
Argentina native Luis Scola topped the Rockets (36-33) with 22 points.
Milwaukee Bucks 98, Atlanta Hawks 95
John Salmons scored half his 32 points in the final quarter, including the tie-breaking free throws with 21.8 seconds left, and the host Bucks (39-30) won for the 15th time in the past 17 games.
Joe Johnson led the Hawks (45-25) with 27 points.
Toronto Raptors 106, Minnesota Timberwolves 100
Chris Bosh had 21 points with 10 rebounds, Italian Andrea Bargnani scored 19 and the visiting Raptors (35-34) handed the T-Wolves (14-57) their 13th-straight loss.
Memphis Grizzlies 102, Sacramento Kings 85
Zach Randolph had 25 points with 12 rebounds, OJ Mayo netted 20 and the visiting Grizzlies (38-33) outscored the Kings (24-47) 51-33 in the second half.