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Paul's 24 points, 16 assists help Hornets to rare win vs. Jazz

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Chris Paul explained his latest highlight-filled performance by complimenting his friend and fellow point guard, Deron Williams.

"When you play against the best, it brings out the best in you," Paul said.

Paul had 24 points, 16 assists and five steals to help the New Orleans Hornets hold off the Utah Jazz 110-98 on Friday night.

David West had 25 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, which built a 27-point lead in the first quarter, then withstood a late surge to beat the Jazz for the first time in three meetings this season.

The game matched two of the best young point guards in the game in Paul and Williams, the runner-up and champion, respectively, in the All-Star skills challenge in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago.

Neither disappointed. Paul darted through crowds of defenders on the dribble, setting up everything from open 3-pointers to alley-oop dunks.

Williams whipped passes around the perimeter or made crisp flips to teammates cutting inside for easy layups and jams. Williams, who finished with 22 points and 10 assists, also hit several big baskets as the Jazz tried to claw back, including an array of driving layups and 3-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters.

However, Williams turned the ball over four times, mostly because of the way he was hounded by Paul, and the Hornets ended up scoring 24 points off 14 Jazz turnovers.

"We have to do a better job taking care of the ball. I have to do a better job taking care of the ball," Williams said. "Later in the game, we fought back. We just put ourselves in too big of a hole too early."

Utah was as close as 89-85 when Andrei Kirilenko hit a leaner off the glass midway through the fourth quarter. Then the Hornets started hitting clutch shots from outside.

Peja Stojakovic started it with a 3-pointer and reserve guard Jannero Pargo hit a pair of tough jumpers before making a 3 of his own.

Then Paul, running the break, found Stojakovic open in the corner. Stojakovic faked the shot as a defender flew past, hesitated a moment, then nailed another 3 to put New Orleans up 102-91 with 3:30 left and send the sellout crowd into a frenzy.

After West scored twice more inside, Pargo, who finished with 15 points, made another 3-pointer to seal it.

"As long as we remain confident, we're able to come up with some big shots," West said. "Guys came in and made some big, big plays for us."

Pargo has been showing a knack for making clutch shots lately. He scored 22 points in 30 minutes in a victory over Phoenix two nights earlier and has been finding himself on the floor in crucial junctures.

"That's the ultimate compliment right there when your team and your coach believe in you. That makes it a lot easier to go out there and play," Pargo said. "If I have a shot I feel I can make, I'm going to shoot it and just try to be aggressive."

Stojakovic finished with 20 points and Tyson Chandler had 10, including several alley-oop dunks on feeds from Paul.

Mehmet Okur had 23 points and 13 rebounds for Utah, while Ronnie Brewer had 15 points and Carols Boozer 10.

New Orleans came out strong from the opening tip and nearly ran Utah out of the building in the first quarter.

West's jumper ignited a 23-0 burst that included 3-pointers by Stojakovic and Paul, a driving dunk by West, and Stojakovic's fast-break layup as he was fouled.

The Jazz went six minutes without a field goal, hitting only three foul shots during that stretch. Utah coach Jerry Sloan remained seated, resting his chin on one hand and looking disgusted as he pulled all of his starters for several minutes.

"When you're not ready to attack them, you can't expect to win. This team's too good," Sloan said. "The way we came out and started, it's like the game is not important at that stage. ... They got up and defended us, they were all over us, they wouldn't let us do anything and we just stood there and watched."

The Hornets shot 63 percent in the first period and were 10-of-11 on foul shots.

Two nights earlier, Utah rallied from 18 points down to beat Detroit for its largest comeback of the season. In this one, the Jazz needed a 13-2 run, capped by Williams' transition 3, just to pull to 58-45 at halftime.

Game notes
Hornets swingman Bonzi Wells sat out his second straight game with a bruised Achilles' tendon. He is day-to-day. ... Paul debuted his new basketball shoe at the game. It's called the Jordan CP. Several pairs were given away to fans. ... Attendance was 17,445, the Hornets' third sellout in four home games. ... Utah, which has lost only three games at home, is 12-19 on the road. ... West has scored in double figures in 33 straight games.


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