OKLAHOMA CITY – David West scored 22 points, including a tiebreaking layup with 50.4 seconds left, to lift the New Orleans Hornets to an 88-86 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

After a missed jumper by Speedy Claxton caromed off the rim and backboard, West grabbed the ball and put it back to give New Orleans an 88-86 lead.

Claxton drew a charging foul against Chris Webber on Philadelphia’s next possession, but Desmond Mason’s miss gave the Sixers one last chance. Andre Iguodala grabbed the rebound and passed to Allen Iverson, who rushed up the court and missed a 3-pointer from the left wing as the buzzer sounded.

The Hornets had led by 14 points late in the first half before being outscored 23-9 in the third quarter. Iverson’s two free throws with 4:59 left gave Philadelphia its biggest lead of the game at 82-74 before the Hornets rallied.

New Orleans started chipping away at the lead with J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer from the left wing, and Paul pulled the Hornets within 86-83 when he grabbed a loose ball and raced up court for a layup.

After Smith missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers, Mason took a pass from Claxton and was slammed hard to the floor as he dunked over Samuel Dalembert with 1:28 left. He stayed face down on the ground for a few moments before teammates huddled around to help him up.

His ensuing free throw tied the game at 86.

Webber missed a jumper on Philadelphia’s following possession to set up West’s game-winner.

The teams continued heading in opposite directions. The Hornets (8-7) have won six of their past eight games, and the Sixers (8-9) have lost six of eight.

West also scored six points during a 10-0 run that pushed the Hornets to an 18-14 lead in the first quarter. Paul assisted on West’s first two scores, and Mason set up West’s two-handed jam to cap the run.

New Orleans then scored the first five points of the second quarter and took a 33-23 lead on PJ Brown’s jumper from the right elbow.

The Hornets continued to extend their lead with back-to-back dunks by Mason and Smith, and Paul’s 3-pointer from the left side made it 50-36.

The Sixers eliminated New Orleans’ 13-point halftime lead with a 19-5 run to open the second half. Against Philadelphia’s zone defense, the Hornets settled for outside shots and forced attempts late in the shot clock, going 2-for-13 to start the second half, including four missed 3-pointers.

After shooting 21 free throws in the first half, New Orleans got to the foul line only twice in the third quarter and Philadelphia took a 60-59 lead on Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer from the right wing.

Notes: The Hornets have more wins against Philadelphia (39) in their 17-year history than against any other team. The Hornets are 39-25 against the 76ers. New Orleans has 38 wins against Milwaukee and Washington. … Mason, who played at Oklahoma State, made his first start in Oklahoma City as Bostjan Nachbar missed his second straight game with a sprained right knee.

AP-ES-12-02-05 2254EST


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