Chris Paul had 27 points and 15 assists, and the New Orleans Hornets increased their season-best winning streak to six with a 104-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.
David West scored 19 and Rasual Butler 18 for the Hornets, who haven't lost since center Tyson Chandler returned to the lineup from a left ankle injury _ and rescinded trade _ last week. Chandler's minutes were limited by foul trouble, but he still finished with 11 rebounds and 10 points, slamming down several alley-oop feeds from Paul.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 27 points and Jason Kidd added 13, but the Mavericks faded during the last 10 minutes as the game turned into a blowout.
The game was tied at 56 when Paul began to take over, scoring on a drive into a crowd and on a soft mid-range jumper during consecutive possessions. That ignited a 15-3 run during which Paul scored eight points before Butler capped the surge with a 3-pointer, putting the Hornets up 71-59.
Nowitzki single-handedly helped Dallas pull back to single digits, scoring the Mavs' last eight points of the period on a jumper and six free throws. Nowitzki had all 27 of his points through the first three quarters, after which Dallas trailed 75-67.
The Mavs, who'd pulled out a hard-fought 107-102 victory over San Antonio a night earlier, seemed to lack the energy needed to come back in the fourth quarter _ or do anything to stop New Orleans' All-Star point guard.
Paul hit a driving layup, a mid-range jumper and a 3 before making a steal to start a fast break that ended with his feed to Butler for a dunk. While the crowd chanted "M-V-P," Paul added a couple more free throws, giving the Hornets a 95-76 lead with 5:03 to play, and New Orleans' lead got as big as 22.
Thanks to Paul's ability to penetrate and Chandler's finishing, New Orleans dominated the inside, outscoring Dallas 52-24 and outrebounding the Mavs 41-35.
West got the Hornets off to a quick start with seven early points as New Orleans raced to a nine-point lead. But Dallas pulled even in the second quarter, when Nowitzki scored 10 points, mostly on short jumpers.
Reserves Antonio Daniels and Devin Brown both hit 3s to help New Orleans regain a lead as large as 40-34. Then Kidd responded with a 3 and Nowitzki scored twice as Dallas stayed close and eventually tied the game at 45 on Kidd's jumper shortly before halftime.
Notes:@ Hornets swingman Peja Stojakovic sat out with back spasms. ... Chandler was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after one of several alley-oop dunks set up by Paul. ... The Hornets won the teams' only previous meeting 104-97 in Dallas on Jan. 14. ... Some of the loudest cheers of the night came for multiple Grammy award-winning rap artist Lil Wayne, a New Orleans native who sat courtside. ... Attendance was 17,230, the Hornets' 14th sellout of the season. They had 13 regular-season sellouts last season, their first back in New Orleans full-time since Hurricane Katrina. ... New Orleans has held five straight opponents to 96 points or less.
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