Paul leads Hornets past Lakers

BY foxsports • March 30, 2010

Chris Paul had his first double-double since returning from injury with 15 points and 13 assists to help the New Orleans Hornets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-100 on Monday night.

David West scored 20 points for New Orleans, while Marcus Thornton had 18 points and fellow rookie Darren Collison, a former UCLA standout, added 17 points against his hometown team.

Kobe Bryant had 31 points and Pau Gasol added 26 points and 22 rebounds, but they didn't have much help as the Lakers trailed throughout the final three quarters and fell behind by as much as 17 points in the fourth before losing for the second time in three games.

Thornton and James Posey each had three 3-pointers for the Hornets, who hit 10 3s in all while snapping a two-game skid. Posey finished with 13 points and Emeka Okafor grabbed 13 rebounds.

Ron Artest scored 14 points and Lamar Odom 10 for Los Angeles, but the Lakers did not have a point from a reserve until Jordan Farmar's 3-pointer with 2:42 left in the third quarter, which cut New Orleans' lead to 66-61.

The Hornets responded with eight straight points, capped by West's layup on a feed from Paul.

After Gasol's free throws pulled the Lakers to 74-63, Los Angeles was looking to cut it to single digits when Posey swooped in for a backside block on Gasol. New Orleans broke the other way and Collison hit a driving floater in a crowd while being fouled by Gasol. He converted the three-point play to widen New Orleans' lead to 77-63 heading into the fourth quarter.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson appeared ready to concede after Okafor tipped in West's miss to make it 87-70 with a little more than nine minutes left. Bryant joined Gasol on the bench, even thought the Lakers' reserves were being outscored 31-5 to that point. However, the Lakers scored 11 straight points, the last when Bryant checked back in just in time to put back Farmar's missed free throw, cutting it to 87-81 with about 5:40 still remaining.

Darius Songaila, who had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, then hit a jumper to snap the run. After Famar hit another 3, West banked in a tough fade over Odom.

Artest then missed his second 3-point attempt in three possessions and the Hornets began rebuilding their lead. Songaila tipped in West's miss. Soon after, Posey's 3 put the Hornets up 96-86 with 2:19 to go. The Lakers started fouling, but the Hornets hit their next eight free throws - four by Paul and two each by Thornton and Posey.

New Orleans wound up outshooting the Lakers 49 percent to 42 percent as Los Angeles was hurt by 7-of-29 shooting from 3-point range.

Gasol scored the Lakers' first 12 points and his dunk later gave Los Angeles a 21-17 lead, but New Orleans regained the lead for good on consecutive 3s by Posey and Collison.

Those baskets began a 17-1 run that carried into the second quarter and featured two more 3s, one each by Paul and Collison, and New Orleans' lead hovered around 10 points throughout the period.

Odom scored on a spin move in the lane while being fouled as time expired in the second quarter, but missed his free throw, and the Hornets led 50-42 at halftime.

NOTES: Hornets owner George Shinn, who has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer for the past several months, said he recently learned he is cancer free and was sitting courtside at the game, next to actor Bruce Willis. ... Prior to tipoff, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said forward Luke Walton, who has been out with a pinched nerve in his back, is expected to be back at practice next week and could start doing some court work by Thursday. ... Jackson said center Andrew Bynum, out with a left Achilles' strain, only began walking without discomfort over the weekend. ``I haven't put any timetable on Andrew at all,'' Jackson said, adding that he does not believe Bynum needs to play before the playoffs begin. ... The Lakers conclude a five-game road trip at Atlanta on Wednesday.

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