NEW ORLEANS – Chris Paul hit a driving layup through a crowd of defenders with 1.8 seconds left in overtime, capping a game of career highs and lifting the New Orleans Hornets to a 118-116 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Paul hit five 3-pointers on his way to 43 points, both career highs, to go with nine assists and four steals.

He also made a pair of crucial free throws that tied the game at 107 with 33.1 seconds left, a score that held until overtime, when New Orleans never seems to lose anymore.

The Hornets won their 12th straight overtime game, a streak going back to the 2005-06 season. It was also their third overtime victory this season, the second against the Grizzlies.

New Orleans made eight 3-pointers in all, a key to their fourth victory in sixth games.

David West scored 27 for New Orleans, which played most of the game without starting shooting guard Morris Peterson (lower back strain) and all of the second half without Peja Stojakovic (strained left groin). Tyson Chandler had 13 points and 19 rebounds.

Chandler’s alley-oop reverse jam from Paul helped the Hornets open the extra period with a 5-0 run that began when Paul hit a driving floater as he was fouled.

Rudy Gay tied the game at 116 when he made a rainbow 3-pointer with 23.8 seconds left in OT. After Paul’s winner, Memphis had one more chance to set up a quick shot, but Pau Gasol lost the inbounds pass out of bounds.

It was a bitter end to an otherwise strong performance by Gasol, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds. Gay led Memphis with 31 points, including several soaring dunks and an array of mid-range jumpers.

Mike Miller also scored 26 for Memphis.

The Hornets led most of the game and were up 105-100 with just over two minutes remaining.

Then Memphis, which came in on a two-game losing streak, scored seven straight points, starting with Gasol’s tough fallaway. Memphis guard Kyle Lowry, who started because Damon Stoudamire was out with the flu, then hit a pair of free throws and a driving layup to give Memphis a 106-105 lead before Paul was called for a potentially costly technical foul and Miller hit the free throw.

But Paul ended up being fouled on the same possession and made the game-tying free throws, then both teams missed on their last two possessions of regulation.

Lowry finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Stojakovic’s 3-pointer ignited a 12-2 run in the first quarter that gave the Hornets their largest lead at 20-10.

The Grizzlies never led in the opening half, but were able to stay mostly within single digits in large part because of Gasol’s 18 first-half points.

Gay had 10 points in the opening period, scoring six straight for Memphis on a driving one-handed jam, a baseline drive and an alley-oop dunk to pull the Grizzlies to 50-45.

West’s 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in the second quarter put the Hornets ahead 55-47 at halftime.

Memphis didn’t take its first lead until Miller’s 3-pointer and Hakim Warrick’s reverse layup capped a 6-0 run to give the Grizzlies a 68-67 lead with 5:36 to go in the third quarter.

Miller hit another 3 and a mid-range jumper to help Memphis go ahead 73-70 before the Hornets responded with Paul’s runner, West’s driving floater off the glass and Chandler’s follow-up dunk that put New Orleans up 76-73.

Notes: New Orleans won the only other meeting between these divisional foes so far this season, a 120-118 overtime triumph in Memphis on Nov. 16. New Orleans also has won eight of its last nine games against the Grizzlies. … Attendance was 10,386. … Memphis (6-13) has lost six games by three points or less. … The Hornets evened their home record at 5-5.

AP-ES-12-07-07 2306EST


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