Hornets 95, Raptors 89

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OKLAHOMA CITY – David West scored 19 points and Chris Paul added 16, including a jumper in the final minute, to help the New Orleans Hornets beat the Toronto Raptors 95-89 on Friday night.

New Orleans led the entire game but couldn’t put the Raptors away until a 12-2 run midway through the fourth quarter.

Speedy Claxton hit a jumper, Kirk Snyder made a 3-pointer and P.J. Brown scored when his right-handed dunk attempt bounced off the rim and in. After a jumper by Toronto’s Charlie Villanueva, Desmond Mason scored on a left-handed hook shot and Rasual Butler followed with a 3-pointer to give the Hornets an 88-72 lead.

Even that wasn’t safe against the Raptors, who rallied back from an 18-point second-half deficit in a 120-113 double overtime win by the Hornets on Sunday in Toronto.

The Raptors used a flurry of 3-pointers – one by Matt Bonner and four by Mike James – in this comeback, and Andre Barrett’s follow shot made it 92-89 in the final minute.

Paul beat the shot clock with a jumper with 24.2 seconds left to give New Orleans a five-point lead and James finally missed a 3-pointer to end Toronto’s chances. James finished with 36 points – two short of his career high – on 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range.

With the win, New Orleans pulled within 11/2 games of eighth-place Sacramento, which played the Clippers in Los Angeles later Friday night, for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Linton Johnson scored 13 points and Claxton added 11 for New Orleans, which has won five of its last six games.

Villanueva had 14 points, Morris Peterson scored 13 on 2-for-14 shooting and Loren Woods pulled down 10 rebounds for Toronto. The Raptors have lost seven in a row, including their last six since losing leading scorer Chris Bosh to a sprained left thumb. It’s their longest losing streak since starting the season 0-9.

New Orleans opened the game on a 9-0 run and stretched its lead to 22-9 before James started pulling Toronto back. He scored 20 in the first half – including all 10 of Toronto’s points during one stretch – and the Raptors trailed 53-47 after a 3-pointer by Johnson with 0.3 seconds left in the first half.

Another 3 by Johnson gave New Orleans a 63-54 lead but Toronto kept it close until the very end.

Notes: Joey Graham, a former Oklahoma State forward who scored a career-high 19 points Sunday against New Orleans, replaced Eric Williams in Toronto’s starting lineup. He scored nine points. … Hornets coach Byron Scott said he expected forward Marcus Fizer to be re-signed to another 10-day contract as an insurance policy in case New Orleans had any more injuries to their frontcourt. Scott said he likes Fizer’s post-up moves, his physical play and his passing. “We’ve had limited practices but from what I’ve seen of him in practice, I like what he does,” Scott said.

AP-ES-04-07-06 2240EDT

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