Hornets Stay In Win Column In Orlando

Posted: April 2, 2008 in Hornets

In a game that the Hornets struggled in most of the night being down 8 at times, 10 at times, even 12 at times, the Hornets rallied with one of their most outstanding defensive performances of the season in the second half to beat the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena, 98-97. Yes, it was by a single point. After Orlando scored a bucket to make it that score, they immediately fouled Chris Paul on the next possession, sending him to the free-throw line. With just ticks remaining in the game, CP3 missed them both, meaning the Hornets would have to stop the Magic from making a basket of any kind at the other end. With no fouls to give, CP3 was forced to give Keyon Dooling a clean look at a 15 footer; he missed it. The Hornets held on to win their 51st game of the year. They are 51-22 and still atop the Western Conference.

ORLANDO, Fla., April 1, 2008 (AP)Peja Stojakovic‘s streak of consecutive 3-pointers was in jeopardy. He had made at least one in 35 straight games, but through 47 minutes on Tuesday night was 1-for-10 from the field with no 3s.

He was due, and the swingman came through.

Stojakovic scored six points in the final minute — a clutch 3-pointer and three free throws — to lift New Orleans past the Orlando Magic 98-97, giving the Hornets their franchise-record 24th road win.

“You have to give yourself a chance,” said Stojakovic, eighth on the NBA’s career 3-point shooting list. “I always say that. If you don’t shoot, you are never going to find out.”

Chris Paul had 19 points and 12 assists for the Hornets, Morris Peterson scored 19 points and David West had 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Hedo Turkoglu had 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Orlando. Rashard Lewis added 24 points and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Down 98-95 with 9.4 seconds left, the Magic inbounded to Turkoglu. Instead of shooting a 3 to tie, the forward drove the wide open lane for an easy dunk.

The strategy seemed to work. Turkoglu fouled Paul on the inbounds pass, and the All-Star missed both free throws, so Orlando had another chance.

Down one point with 6.1 seconds left, Turkoglu inbounded to Lewis, who met two defenders off the dribble. He passed to Keyon Dooling, but his buzzer-beating jumper was short.

“The game could have went any way, one break here, one break there,” Dooling said.

Orlando led 53-44 at halftime, but the Hornets drew to 59-57 on a 12-0 run over 4 1/2 minutes. Peterson hit consecutive 3-pointers — six of the 11 points he scored in the quarter.

The Magic built their lead back to 11 in the third on Maurice Evans‘ 3, but New Orleans stormed back. Paul drove the paint on nearly every possession, collecting five free throws and a jumper that again closed the Hornets within two points.

Neither team led by more than three in the fourth quarter.

“It was just one of those things when sometimes you have a feeling, and I knew Peja was due,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “He had so many good looks tonight, and I thought he was probably a little tired, too. He’s been playing a lot more minutes than I thought I would be playing him at the beginning of the year.”

It was Orlando’s first game since clinching the Southeast Division on Monday with Washington’s loss to Utah — the franchise’s first division title since the 1995-96 season.

New Orleans (51-22) is sitting atop the Western Conference playoff race, but has a long ride to clinch its division. Four teams in the Southwest appear headed to the postseason, and all could conceivably win 50 games. The Hornets won their 50th on Sunday for the first time since 1997-98.

Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson missed his second straight game with a bruised jaw, and forward Brian Cook was out after breaking a finger Monday in practice. Oddly, both got injured in run-ins with Howard, as did Tony Battie, who has missed the whole season after undergoing shoulder surgery in October.

The Hornets improved to 4-1 on a six-game road trip that concludes Wednesday at Miami.

“Magic Outrebounded 51-30 In Loss”. NBA.com. April 1, 2008. “http://www.nba.com/games/20080401/NOHORL/recap.html”.


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