New Orleans' Chris Paul fuels second-half comeback
NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Paul had just four points as the New Orleans Hornets fell behind the Atlanta Hawks by nine points at halftime.
"I told him, 'Hey, you have to be a scorer for us. Our offense is kind of stagnant there. You've got to be aggressive and be ready to score," Hornets guard Jarrett Jack said.
Paul proceeded to score 13 of his 22 points in the third quarter and New Orleans outscored Atlanta 28-16 on its way to a 93-86 victory Sunday night.
Paul was 10 of 17 from the field and also had eight assists.
"That was just Chris Paul being Chris Paul," Hornets coach Monty Williams said.
Hornets forward David West scored 18 points, Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 15 rebounds, Trevor Ariza added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Jack had 10 points.
Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 23 points, Marvin Williams had 18, Josh Smith added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Paul's third-quarter scoring helped give the Hornets a 74-71 lead entering the fourth quarter. They outscored the Hawks 47-31 in the second half.
"Chris Paul started to take over, scoring and getting guys involved," Crawford said, "and that's where the game separated."
Mike Bibby's 3-pointer gave the Hawks an 81-80 lead with 7 minutes remaining.
The Hornets followed with an 10-0 run in which Paul scored a basket and fed West for one of his two baskets. Jack's two free throws concluded the run and gave New Orleans a 90-81 lead with 3 minutes left.
Johnson's jumper in the lane ended Atlanta's drought and he followed with a 3-pointer that got the Hawks to 90-86 with 1:18 left.
West missed a jumper but the Hawks' Al Horford was called for a loose-ball foul on the rebound, allowing New Orleans to retain possession. Paul dribbled down the shot clock then made a fadeaway 20-footer over Horford for a 92-86 lead with 38 seconds left.
Johnson missed a jumper and Paul made one of two free throws for a seven-point lead with 19 seconds left.
"We started the third quarter and we just didn't have any energy," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We came out very lethargic. We stopped running, we stopped pushing the basketball for easy transition points, and we started settling for jump shots."
Crawford returned from a five-game absence because of a sore back. ... Hornets coach Monty Williams said reserve guard Willie Green, who has been away from the team to be with his family following his sister's death in an automobile accident, will return to the team this week. Williams added that it is too soon to estimate when Green will be available for a game. ... Ariza ended a streak of six consecutive games without making a 3-pointer when he hit one late in the first quarter. He was 0 for 17 from 3-point range in the previous six games. ... The Hornets outrebounded their opponent for the seventh straight game.
Regular Season Series
NO leads 1-0
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2022-23 Southeast Standings