Hornets 96, Kings 94

Given the chance to stay on the court with the game on the line,

Hornets reserves Darius Songaila and James Posey turned a broken

play into a game-winner.

Posey drove the lane after the Sacramento Kings forced David

West to pass the ball back out to the perimeter, then found

Songaila under the basket for a tough layup with defenders crowding

around him.

The basket with 12 seconds to go gave the Hornets a slim lead

they would not relinquish in a 96-94 victory on Tuesday night.

“It was one of those plays where you get it and you make the

shot and then you’re like, ‘What just happened? How did I make

that? Can I do it again? I don’t know,”’ said Songaila, who

figured he’s had one or two game-winning shots in his six-year NBA

career. “Any time you get the ball under the basket you’ve just

got to go up as strong as you can and hope you get fouled or get

the layup.”

West led New Orleans with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Paul,

in his second game back from a sprained left ankle, had 15 points

and 12 assists. Emeka Okafor added 17 points and 12 rebounds for

New Orleans, and Songaila led the reserves with what turned out to

be a crucial 11-point effort.

Sacramento’s Andres Nocioni had a chance to tied it when he

rebounded Tyreke Evans’ miss and was fouled with just over a second

left. He missed his first free throw, however, then was forced to

miss the second in hopes of a putback that never had a chance

because of a Kings lane violation.

“I knew he was going to miss it,” said Songaila, who fouled

out on the play that put Nocioni on the line. “I played with Noc

in Chicago so I knew he wasn’t a good free throw shooter. I told

one of my teammates he was going to give us one (miss) and it

turned out he gave us two. Obviously, it wasn’t the play I was

going for but it turned out lucky.”

Evans led the Kings with 25 points. His free throws, followed by

his soaring fast-break scoop off the glass, gave the Kings a 92-91

lead with 1:22 left.

“It hurts to play as well as we did and not come away with the

win,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “When we start learning how

to win these games, it’s going to be fun to watch.”

West hit a short jumper off the glass to put New Orleans back up

93-92. After Evans’ miss, West was fouled inside but made only one

of two free throws, allowing Evans to tie it at 94 with a driving

layup with 33 seconds left.

That set up Songaila’s winner.

“As the defense rotated, I was able to penetrate,” said Posey,

who also hit a key 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter. “Once the

bigs came, I saw Darius right there.”

The Kings led 76-69 early in the fourth quarter, but reserve

Marcus Thornton provided a sudden scoring surge that kept the

Hornets within striking distance. He hit a 3 from the wing, then

stole the ball for a fast-break layup to pull New Orleans to

78-77.

“We knew we would need those guys to win games like this,”

West said. “Darius came in and played big and Marcus did the same

thing.”

Jason Thompson scored 20 and had nine rebounds for Sacramento,

hitting an array of tough inside shots and short floaters, but he

fouled out on a charging call with 3:25 left and the Kings trailing

88-85.

Beno Udrih scored 13 for the Kings and Spencer Hawes had 12.

The Kings dominated the inside, where they outscored New Orleans

56-34. Sacramento also ran the floor better, finishing with a 22-8

advantage in fast-break points.

Sacramento also shot slightly better, 50.6 percent to 50

percent.

“We are improving,” Hawes said. “Guys have grown individually

and meshed as a unit and I think it’s only going to continue.”

The Hornets pulled it out by hitting eight 3-pointers and

outscoring the Kings 14-9 at the foul line, where the Kings missed

10 free throws.

Peja Stojakovic was 4 of 5 from 3-point range and had 14

points.

Stojakovic hit three 3s in the first half, one of them giving

the Hornets their largest lead at 29-17 late in the first

quarter.

Evans cut the Kings’ deficit to 10 with a layup in the final

seconds of the period, but paid for it. He was bumped by Okafor,

though no foul was called, and crashed hard to the floor. He went

to the locker room for the first five minutes of the second

quarter, but returned to help the Kings pull to 35-34 on a driving

layup as he was fouled.

The score was tied at 48 at halftime.

NOTES: The Hornets have won six straight at home and are 8-2 on

their home floor overall. … The Hornets are 2-1 against the Kings

this season with the home team winning each time. … The Kings

failed to score 100 points for the first time in 10 games. …

Kings rookie Omri Casspi went to the locker room with back pain

shortly before tipoff and did not play.