Paul, West lead Hornets over Pacers, 105-103

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chris Paul’s New Orleans teammates and coaches were imploring the guard to take charge of the game against the lowly Pacers.

So he did.

Paul scored 11 points in the game’s final 3:36 and David West hit a 17-foot fadeaway jumper with 2.5 seconds remaining to help the Hornets rally for a 105-103 win over Indiana on Sunday night.

Paul and James Posey scored 19 points each for the Hornets (18-9). West added 18 points, Rasual Butler scored 15 and Peja Stojakovic had 12.

“It was winning time,” Paul said. “Antonio Davis was talking to me the whole game, telling me to be more aggressive. One of our assistant coaches said to take over, be more assertive and aggressive.”

Danny Granger led Indiana (10-20) with 34 points. Roy Hibbert scored 19 before drawing his fifth foul with 6:46 to play in the third quarter. He did not return.

Troy Murphy had 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Pacers, who led by as many as 12 points early in the third quarter. No other Pacer scored in double figures.

Paul’s late burst caught the Pacers by surprise.

“He wasn’t looking to score, but then he got going,” Granger said. “They have a great guard in Chris Paul, and they surround him with great shooters.”

Pacers’ coach Jim O’Brien agreed: “He does what great point guards do. He carries the team on his back.”

Paul drove the lane for a basket and a 103-101 lead with 30.9 seconds remaining. Granger then was fouled on a drive and made both free throws with 27.8 seconds to go.

The Pacers had no timeouts after West’s basket. Jarrett Jack’s hurried jumper from halfcourt missed at the final buzzer.

“I’ve always had confidence in my ability to score the ball,” said Granger, who improved on his fifth-ranked NBA scoring average of 24.5 points. “But I’d rather score 20 and win.”

“Granger killed us,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “He made shots. Their whole front line killed us. We got lucky.”

Hibbert hit three baskets as he helped the Pacers build a 63-54 lead early in the second half. But when he drew his fifth foul, the Hornets put together runs of 9-2 over a 2:48 span and 10-2 over the last 2:40 of the period to establish a 76-75 lead.

Granger (14), Murphy (14) and Hibbert (13) scored 41 of the Pacers’ 56 first-half points.

Murphy and Hibbert scored seven points each as the Pacers went on a 15-6 run over a four-minute stretch to take a 53-45 lead 2:50 before intermission. They led 56-49 at the half.

Notes: Hilton Armstrong was given a technical at the end of the half when he shoved Murphy under the Hornets’ basket at the halftime buzzer. Granger made the free throw to start the second half The Pacers have lost three straight games, all after having held a substantial lead The Hornets have now won three straight at Conseco Fieldhouse

The Hornets had just nine turnovers, the fewest by a Pacers’ opponent this season.