HOUSTON (Reuters) - The New Orleans Hornets booked a playoff spot and snuffed out the post-season hopes of the Houston Rockets with a 101-93 road win on Wednesday.
"It's a good feeling knowing we're in," Hornets guard Chris Paul told reporters. "But now it's about staying in."
Houston's Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry were on fire from long-range, in the first quarter, connecting on five of eight three-point attempts as the Rockets burst to a 38-21 lead.
But the Rocket scored just 33 points in the next two quarters, allowing the Hornets to claw their way back into the game.
"In the first quarter we looked like the Bad News Bears," said Paul. "In the last three quarters we showed up."
The teams exchanged the lead six times in the fourth before New Orleans seized command of the game on two free throws by Paul, who led the Hornets with 28 points, with 4:16 remaining.
Trevor Ariza followed the free throws with a dunk after a steal and New Orleans iced the game from the free throw line to silence the home crowd.
Martin led the Rockets with 21 points and Luis Scola and Goran Dragic added 16 points each.
"We just got to remember the sounds of their team making the playoffs and how happy they were," Martin said.
"We could hear them from our locker room. That's all we have to keep in mind throughout the summer."
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer)