Hornets Get Revenge
NEW ORLEANS -- David West denied Dirk Nowitzki a chance to send the New Orleans Hornets to a second straight loss.
West scored 17 points and stole the ball from Nowitzki with 2 seconds left to preserve the Hornets' 99-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.
After Jason Kidd had forced a turnover on an inbound pass, Dallas, trailing 98-97, was trying to set up for a potential game-winning shot when West stole the ball near midcourt and made one of two free throws for the final margin.
Chris Paul had 20 points and 11 assists for New Orleans (9-1), which avenged its first loss of the season Monday night in Dallas. Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Marco Belinelli scored 17 and Trevor Ariza added 12.
Jason Terry had 16 points in a reserve role and Kidd had 11 points for Dallas, which led 52-42 at halftime but was outscored 33-17 in the third quarter as New Orleans surged into the lead.
The Hornets didn't take their first lead until Paul set up Belinelli's 3 to make it 58-57 with 6:19 to go in the third quarter. Soon after, Paul brought the crowd to its feet when he dribbled behind his back in traffic on a fast break and scored as he was fouled by Kidd. The basket highlighted a 13-0 run -- part of a decisive 27-7 surge that ended with Paul's 3.
The Hornets ramped up their defense in the second half, when they forced 10 of the Mavs' 15 turnovers. The Hornets wound up with 23 points off of Dallas turnovers, while Dallas converted New Orleans' 10 turnovers into only six points.
Only two days earlier in Dallas, these Southwest Division rivals had played each other with playoff-like intensity to the final buzzer, with the Mavs erasing a 10-point deficit in the final seven minutes and pulling out a 98-95 win.
The rematch was fiercely contested as well, with plenty of banging, talking and technical fouls on Nowitzki and Smith.
Nowitzki got his fifth foul with 8:49 left for bumping West in the post, after which West starting yelling at Nowitzki and was pulled back toward the Hornets' bench by teammates.
The moment harkened back to the 2008 playoffs, when West tapped Nowitzki in the cheek during a face-to-face argument.
Undaunted, Nowitzki continued to demonstrate remarkable accuracy on mid-range jumpers, but his defense was limited as Dallas could not afford for him to foul out.
Ariza drove right past him for a floater in the lane that put New Orleans up 90-88. After Terry responded with a 3, Paul played a role in New Orleans' next seven points, finding West for a baseline jumper and Belinelli for a 3, then hitting a pull-up of his own to make it 97-91 with 2:14 to go.
The Mavs responded with a pair of free throws each by Chandler, then Terry stole the ball from West, forcing West into his fifth foul. Terry's subsequent free throws made it 97-95 with 1:03 to go.
When Peja Stojakovic, an 89.5 percent career free throw shooter, made only one of two foul shots with 13 seconds left, Dallas was able to pull within a point on Nowitzki's driving layup before squandering their chance to shoot for the win.
Dallas dominated early, making five of its first six 3-point attempts. The Mavs' led 12-2 after DeShawn Stevenson's second 3 of the first 4:10.
New Orleans settled down soon after, but struggled to keep its deficit in single digits and trailed 52-42 at halftime.
The Hornets have held every opponent under 100 points this season. ... When the Hornets went down 12-2 in the first 4:10 of the game, it marked the first time all season New Orleans had trailed by double digits. ... Caron Butler started for Dallas after missing the last three games with back spasms. ... Hornets G Marcus Thornton was inactive a third straight game and has not played in four straight.