Sun, Jan 02, 2011 - Page 20 News List

NBA: Paul drives Hornets past limping Celtics

AP and AFP, BOSTON

Chris Paul scored 20 points and added 11 assists on Friday to spark the New Orleans Hornets past Boston 83-81, handing the Celtics only their second home loss in 15 games this season.

David West added 19 points for New Orleans, while Emeka Okafor contributed 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Hornets, who seized the lead with a third-quarter surge.

The Celtics scored 16 points in a row in the fourth quarter, Allen producing the last eight of them, for a 73-66 edge. However, the Hornets answered with an 11-2 run, retaking the lead at 77-75 on Marco Belinelli’s three-pointer with 3 minutes, 6 seconds to play.

West sank a free-throw to produce the final margin, but Ray Allen, who led Boston with 18 points, missed a game-tying jump shot with six seconds remaining and Paul grabbed the rebound to seal Boston’s fate.

Paul Pierce added 12 points for the Celtics, while Shaquille O’Neal scored 10 in a losing cause.

The Eastern Conference--leading Celtics fell to 24-7, level with Dallas for the second-best record in the NBA after San Antonio, with only their second home loss in 15 games this season.

New Orleans improved to 19-15, sixth in the Western Conference, but 10 games adrift of San Antonio in the Southwest Division.

Boston’s second loss in a row came two days after star forward Kevin Garnett was injured in the first quarter of a 104-92 defeat at Detroit. Garnett will miss about two weeks with a sprained right calf muscle.

The Celtics are also without guard Rajon Rondo, sidelined by a sprained ankle, and guard Delonte West, who has a broken wrist.

Thunder 103, Hawks 94

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant hit a season-high five three--pointers and scored 33 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Durant went three for three on three-pointers during a 16-6 run in the fourth quarter as the Thunder put the game away after Atlanta had pulled within two points.

Russell Westbrook finished off a triple-double with his 10th assist in the final seconds. Westbrook finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists — the last coming when he rushed the ball up to Serge Ibaka for a dunk with 6.9 seconds left instead of running down the clock. Players from both teams stayed on the court for a few moments after the game as the Hawks were apparently upset by the final sequence.

Jamal Crawford led Atlanta with 26 points.

Lakers 102, 76ers 98

In Los Angeles, the hosts were unconvincing yet again, but did enough to sneak past a pesky Philadelphia.

Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and hit a tiebreaking jumper with 1 minute, 15 seconds to play.

Pau Gasol had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, as the defending champions barely hung on to win the NBA’s final game of the year

Los Angeles never trailed for the sixth time this season, but also couldn’t shake the young Sixers until Philadelphia missed five shots in the final minute.

Jrue Holiday had 19 points and 11 assists for the Sixers, whose eight-game road trip concludes tomorrow in New Orleans.

Bulls 90, Nets 81

In Chicago, the home team made it 12 wins from 14 games with victory over New Jersey.

Carlos Boozer scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Luol Deng and Derrick Rose scored 19 apiece as the Bulls made enough late shots after struggling from the field for much of the game.

Brook Lopez led New Jersey with 19 points. The Nets dropped their fourth straight, but at least they didn’t get blown out this time.

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