Hornets 110, Rockets 105, OT

The New Orleans Hornets looked at the scoreboard late in the
third quarter, saw the swelling deficit and knew they still had a
chance to beat Houston.

The Rockets, meanwhile, are starting to get the feeling that no
lead is safe, no matter when they have it.

David West scored 29 points, Jarrett Jack added 23 points and
seven assists and the Hornets rallied from 16 points down in the
third to beat the Rockets 110-105 in overtime.

”When we were down 13,” Chris Paul said, ”I turned to (backup
forward) Quincy Poindexter and said, ‘Watch this, we’re going to
come back and win.”’

Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Hornets, who
have won five straight over Houston. Paul had a quiet night, with
11 points, eight assists and five turnovers.

New Orleans was outscored 29-14 in the third quarter and had
twice as many turnovers (8) as field goals (4) to fall behind
76-60.

”I couldn’t figure it out,” Okafor said. ”We kind of just
collapsed a little bit.”

New Orleans coach Monty Williams was calm in the huddle after
the quarter ended, and the Hornets didn’t panic.

”Not so impressive third quarter,” Okafor said. ”But
fortunately for us, it was only the beginning of the fourth. We had
a lot of basketball to play and we all knew it.”

Kyle Lowry matched his season high with 28 points and Kevin
Martin added 26 for the Rockets, who’ve lost seven of their last
eight games and four consecutive home games.

A week ago, the Rockets blew a 16-point lead in the second
quarter in an overtime loss to Utah, and the players sense the
start of a disturbing pattern.

”You’ve got to make it not happen,” Lowry said. ”You’ve got
to take some type of stand and not let that happen. We went through
a good stretch where we were finishing games very good. But we’re
going back through a stretch where we are finishing games
bad.”

With Houston up by 16, West sank two free throws and Jared
Jeffries was called for goaltending on Jack’s layup before the
third quarter ended to start a 14-0 Hornets’ run.

New Orleans finally tied it at 91-all with 1:16 left. Lowry’s
free throws broke the tie, but West drove past Jared Jeffries for a
one-handed dunk to silence the crowd.

Martin swished a jumper, West hit two free throws and Lowry
missed an off-balance jumper in the final 26 seconds of regulation
to force overtime.

Former Rocket Trevor Ariza swished a 3-pointer from the corner
two minutes into overtime to put the Hornets ahead 100-99. Shane
Battier hit an answering 3, but Paul scored on a drive and then hit
a jumper over Martin to give New Orleans the lead for good.

The Hornets have won six of their last eight.

”For maybe 40 minutes of that game, we didn’t play our
basketball,” Paul said, ”but it showed a lot that we got stops
when we needed to and made big plays when we had to.”

The Hornets went 28 for 31 from the free-throw line and
outrebounded the Rockets 48-41. Paul and West were limping on sore
ankles and Okafor had both knees wrapped and his feet soaking in
ice water after the game.

”We had some guys playing hurt,” New Orleans coach Monty
Williams said. ”They just found ways to make plays.”

Houston built an early lead by shooting 57 percent in the first
quarter.

Martin, back after missing two games with a sore right wrist,
sank a 3-pointer and Lowry scored twice in the lane to help Houston
build a seven-point lead. The Rockets then went six minutes without
a field goal in the second quarter, and the Hornets pulled even at
37-all.

Jack assisted on Ariza’s fast-break dunk, then swished a
3-pointer from the corner to put New Orleans in front and the
Hornets led 50-47 at the break.

Notes: Scola had 14 points and 11 rebounds. … Okafor tied his
season high for rebounds and has 10 double-doubles in his last 15
games. … Houston C Brad Miller sat out for the third straight
game with a sore left knee. … Hornets G Marco Belinelli sat out
with a sprained right ankle. … The NBA granted a disabled-player
salary exception to the Rockets in the wake of Yao Ming’s ankle
injury. The exception allows the Rockets to acquire a free agent,
or trade for a player without having to match salaries, up to the
value of the midlevel exception (about $5.765 million).