Okafor helps Hornets top Magic in OT
Emeka Okafor had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets held off Orlando 92-89 in overtime on Wednesday night, snapping the Magic's nine-game winning streak.
Marcus Thornton capped a 22-point performance with a crucial jumper and two free throws in the final minute of the extra period as the Hornets took lead for good and won their second straight. Chris Paul had 12 points and 13 assists and David West had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Dwight Howard had 29 points and 20 rebounds, but missed a pair of free throws that could have given Orlando a one-point lead with 11 seconds to go. Jason Richardson added 21 points, hitting five 3-pointers, including a pair in the final minute to help Orlando erase a seven-point deficit in the final minute of regulation and force overtime.
The Magic entered the game averaging 107.7 points per game during their winning streak but were frustrated by the Hornets defense that came in allowing an average of 92.2 points per game.
New Orleans led throughout the second half, going up by as much as 10 points in the third quarter.
The Hornets appeared to have the game in their grasp when Paul's driving floater made it 79-72 with 1:36 left in regulation and Orlando followed with a turnover on a failed alley-oop pass intended for Howard.
Then Richardson started the comeback with his fourth and fifth 3s of the game in the final minute to pull Orlando to 80-78 with 43.3 seconds to go. After Paul missed one of two free throws, Hedo Turkoglu hit an open 3 with 6.9 seconds left and West's 16-foot jumper rimmed out at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
Orlando players came skipping off the bench after West's miss, their wide smiles a sign they were confident the extra period would be all they needed to extend their winning streak to what would have been a franchise-record 10 games.
They nearly did.
Howard dunked a missed shot, then converted a difficult tip-in to put Orlando up 87-84.
The Hornets came back to take an 88-87 lead on Trevor Ariza's layup, but Richardson's fast-break layup gave the Magic another slim lead.
Thornton's jumper put the Hornets up 90-89 with 37 seconds left in overtime and the Magic missed two straight shots, but Howard got the offensive rebound both times and was fouled. The second foul put Howard on the line, but he missed both foul shots with 11.6 seconds to go.
Orlando had one more chance to tie it after Thornton's last free throws, but J.J. Redick capped an uncharacteristically poor 2-for-11 shooting night with a missed 3 and Paul got the rebound, running out the clock.
Ariza finished with 16 points for New Orleans, and Orlando's Ryan Anderson had 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers.
Orlando hit 12 3s in all, but shot only 39.1 percent and missed five free throws. New Orleans shot nearly 44 percent, outscoring Orlando inside 42-40 and matching Orlando's 50 rebounds.
NOTES: Hornets G Marco Belinelli left early in the first quarter with a sprained right ankle. ... Howard now has 28 double-doubles. ... Orlando is 10-8 on the road. ... The Hornets are 15-5 at home. ... Attendance was announced at 13,688. The figure included actor Jeremy Piven, who is in New Orleans to film the movie ''So Undercover'' with Miley Cyrus.