Chris Paul scored 30 points and added 12 assists to power the New Orleans Hornets past defending National Basketball Association champion San Antonio 102-84 on Monday.
Serbia’s Peja Stojakovic scored 25 points, sinking 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and David West added 10 points for the Hornets, who took a two games to none lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round playoff series.
“Our guys were a little more aggressive as far as what we were going to take away from them,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “They made some slight adjustments. We had to adjust to those. But our guys pretty much carried out our game plan all night long.”
The Spurs, led by 18 points and eight rebounds from Tim Duncan, dropped the first two games of a playoff series for the first time since the 2001 Western Conference final, when the Los Angeles Lakers swept them on the way to a title.
The series shifts to San Antonio for games tomorrow and Sunday, but the Spurs, bidding for their fifth NBA title in 10 seasons, have been outplayed and outhustled twice by the younger Hornets, who won game one 101-82 on Saturday.
“The goal is to get to four games and they are a lot closer than we are,” Duncan said. “The important thing is to go home and get the first one. We can worry about the other things after that.”
The Hornets won for the 17th time in their past 18 home playoff games, including a perfect 8-for-8 in the playoffs at home.
On the eve of his 23rd birthday, flamboyant playmaker Paul attacked the Spurs’ defense and passed off to his teammates when shut off from the basket while hitting 11-of-20 from the field when the opportunities came.
“My teammates and my coach told me to be aggressive. I knew when I got into the lane I had to shoot the ball,” Paul said. “I’m just trying to lead my team in the playoffs. It’s just my third year. I have got a long way to go.”
Pistons 100, Magic 93
Chauncey Billups scored 28 points, three coming on a disputed shot at the end of the third quarter, and Detroit got past Orlando at Auburn Hills, Michigan, for a 2-0 lead in the second-round series.
Billups officially made a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left in the third, ending a play that started with 5.1 seconds and seemed to take a fraction of a second longer using replays the officials didn’t use during a 5-minute delay.
Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince scored 17 points apiece, and Prince added 10 rebounds and five assists.
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is tonight in Orlando.