Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/26

Game 1: Saturday, November 26th
Game 2: Wednesday, February 8th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 28th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 12th

SuperSonics 99

(33-45, 12-27 away)

Hornets 104

(38-40, 24-16 home)

    Coverage: COX

    7:00 PM ET, April 12, 2006

    Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

    1 2 3 4 T
    SEA 29 27 21 2299
    NO 24 34 25 21104

    Top Performers

    Seattle: R. Allen 36 Pts, 6 Reb, 8 Ast

    NO/Oklahoma City : M. Jackson 17 Pts, 14 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Hornets beat Sonics, keep playoff hopes alive

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Chris Paul is comfortable with the Hornets' playoff hopes in his hands.

    The rookie point guard scored 21 points, including four in the final minute, and New Orleans held off the Seattle SuperSonics for a 104-99 win Wednesday night that helped the Hornets gain ground in the playoff race.

    After Seattle closed an 11-point deficit to three in the final five minutes, New Orleans turned to Paul.

    He started to drive against 7-foot center Robert Swift but stepped back to sink a jumper to put New Orleans up by five with 35 seconds to play.

    "I love taking that shot. The shot clock's running down, you're just out trying to make a play and fortunately the shot went in," Paul said.

    After Ray Allen answered on the other end with a reverse layup, Paul missed a jumper but Kirk Snyder was able to knock the offensive rebound to Paul. He stepped to the line and sealed the game with two free throws with 3.2 seconds left.

    "I think everybody on this team wants the ball in their hands in that situation," Paul said. "Being the point guard, I guess that's my job."

    The Hornets trail Sacramento by two games for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The teams meet Sunday in Sacramento. The Kings' magic number is two.

    "Every game from here on out is a must-win," Paul said. "One loss could really be big for us."

    Marc Jackson and Desmond Mason added 17 points apiece as both players had their first double-doubles of the season. Jackson had a season-high 14 rebounds while Mason pulled down 10.

    The Hornets have won six of nine after a stretch of 12 losses in 13 games knocked them out of the top eight in the West.

    "Well, the door is still open," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "It is only open slightly but it is open. It's a matter of us taking care of business and getting a little help."

    The Hornets took their largest lead when Jackson followed Snyder's two-handed alley-oop dunk with a layup to make it 93-82. Seattle started a comeback with a 3-pointer by Rashard Lewis with 4:40 to play.

    Swift pulled the Sonics within 100-97 when he made a free throw with 58 seconds left.

    "It's do or die for us," Mason said. "We've got to win these games. We can't afford to lose one on not getting a rebound or not running up and down the floor or not helping our teammates. I thought we did all those things."

    Allen scored 36 on 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range and Lewis added 20 points. Sonics forward Chris Wilcox sprained his right foot and did not play the fourth quarter. Seattle was outrebounded 44-30.

    "I don't think they are any better of a team than we are," Allen said. "Teams that come out and play hard every night, those are the teams that are going to win, regardless of what their records are."

    Snyder and Speedy Claxton each added 10 points and rookie Brandon Bass scored a career-high nine for the Hornets. Bass got more playing time with leading-scorer David West (sprained left ankle) out and Aaron Williams leaving in the second quarter with a sore right knee.

    Seattle made 17 of its first 27 shots (63 percent) and led 41-30 in the second quarter when Allen finished a 7-0 run with a driving finger roll and a 3-pointer from the right wing.

    Claxton then sparked a 15-4 response by the Hornets with a three-point play off an inbounds pass under the basket, and P.J. Brown tied the game at 45 with two free throws.

    The Hornets then pushed ahead for a 55-50 lead and were up 58-56 at halftime after Jackson hit his first 3-pointer of the season.

    Game notes

    Oklahoma City businessman Clayton Bennett, who is reportedly negotiating to buy a minority stake in the Hornets, sat in a courtside seat at halfcourt. He also was thought to be a possible buyer of the Sonics, whose request for financial assistance was not taken up by the Washington Legislature this year. ... Brown was called for a foul on the opening tip. ... Jackson, a 6-foot-10 center, is 7-for-31 from 3-point range in his six-year NBA career. ... The Hornets outscored an opponent in the third quarter for the second time in their last 17 games. In that span, they scored more than 22 points in the third quarter only three times and scored 15 or less four times.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 99 104
    FGM-FGA 37-76 (.487) 38-82 (.463)
    3PM-3PA 11-24 (.458) 2-4 (.500)
    FTM-FTA 14-18 (.778) 26-33 (.788)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-30 19-44
    Assists 20 18
    Turnovers 19 17
    Steals 7 9
    Blocks 7 0
    Fast Break Points 18 14
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (1/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 11 11

    Top Performers

    No/oklahoma City
    Ray Allen Allen
    Points: 36
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Marc Jackson Jackson
    Points: 17
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0