Hornets drop Clippers, remain unbeaten
NEW ORLEANS (AP)
After a shaky first few outings with New Orleans, Bayless was suddenly taking over a game in the fourth quarter, much like the three-time All-Star he backs up.
"It was just, like, finally," said Bayless, a third-year pro acquired in a trade four days before the regular season opener. "I didn't have any doubts. I know what I can do and I've done it before in the NBA. It was just frustrating, but it was a transition and I feel like these last few games were my training camp."
Bayless, a former first-round pick, was shooting 29 percent and averaging 2.2 points coming in.
"You could see the frustration in his face at times because he knows how to play and sometimes it's not going as well as he'd like," Paul said. "So I was just happy to see him smiling and playing well, because we're going to need that all season long."
With Paul on the bench, Bayless and Green took over in the fourth quarter, combining to score the Hornets' first 19 points to put New Orleans up 89-69.
That kind of production from the reserves was precisely what rookie coach Monty Williams had been demanding.
"We've talked about how I shouldn't have to put Chris back in the game to save the day all the time," Williams said.
Al-Farouq Aminu scored 20 for the Clippers, who played most of the game without starting center Chris Kaman after he sprained his left ankle.
Los Angeles was as close as 63-60 late in the third quarter and trailed by only five when Bayless and Green started making plays. After Green hit a jumper behind David West's screen, Bayless set up Ariza's 3.
Bayless then opened the fourth quarter with a jumper to cap a 9-0 run.
Green had 15 points in the final period, surpassing 4,000 career points in the process. Bayless had 11 in the fourth. Their play allowed Paul to sit for the entire quarter after playing 28 minutes.
Together, Green and Bayless were 10 of 12 from the field in the final period and 5 of 5 from the free throw line for 26 points.
Marco Belinelli had 11 points for the Hornets, who shot 50.6 percent overall and 50 percent (8 of 16) from 3-point range. New Orleans also continued to play solid defense, creating 25 turnovers that led to 35 points. Paul and West each had three steals.
"You can't expect to win at home or on the road when you have that many turnovers, so we've got to do a much better job of valuing the possession of the ball," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We fought back. ... We just couldn't put enough pressure on them offensively, and then we were trying to force some turnovers and they blew the game open."
With Williams and lead assistant Mike Malone placing a premium on defensive play, the Hornets have held every opponent under 100 points.
"They're a good defensive team," said Clippers swingman Rasual Butler, a former Hornet. "Chris and David West out there communicating and letting guys know what is going on."
Ryan Gomes had 11 points for Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin and Butler each had 10.
Aminu, a reserve forward who came into the game averaging 2.7 points, had 16 through three quarters, helping the Clippers claw back after they'd fallen down by 13 early in the second half.
After Griffin's three-point play on a reverse jam, Aminu added a fastbreak layup and 3-pointer from the corner, then Griffin scored inside again during a 12-2 run that cut it to 63-60 late in the third quarter.
Jason Smith's jumper ended the run and the Clippers' momentum. Ariza's third 3 helped New Orleans score the last seven points of the period.
NOTES: The Hornets have beaten the Clippers 14 times in a row. ... Although the Hornets entered the game unbeaten, none of their previous victories had been by as many as 10 points. ... Clippers leading scorer Eric Gordon missed his first game since hurting his left shoulder against Utah on Saturday night. ... Los Angeles also was without G Randy Foye, who missed his sixth straight game with a sore left hamstring. ... Announced attendance was 12,479, meaning there were nearly 5,000 unsold seats.