With the Western Conference race going down to the wire, both players have their eyes on home-court advantage as well.
Paul’s Hornets (54-22) have a 1 1/2 game lead over the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers, and they lead Williams’ Jazz (51-26) by 3 1/2 games. Utah has five regular-season games remaining while the Hornets have six.
New Orleans has won five straight and 10 of 11, including a 108-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Paul recorded his fourth career triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. He also had five steals, increasing his franchise-record season total to 199.
Paul, who leads the league in assists with 11.5 per game and is New Orleans’ leading scorer at 21.5 points per game, is leading the Hornets into the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.
However, he credits his teammates for the turnaround after three consecutive losing seasons.
“I feel like my team is the MVP,” Paul said. “We are having an outstanding year.”
“That’s the one thing about our team I’m comfortable with going into a playoff-type atmosphere - we don’t rely on one scorer,” said Tyson Chandler, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds. “I love the balance of this team and I think you’re going to need that if you want to go deep into the playoffs.”
The Jazz are making their own late-season surge, winning three straight and six of seven, including a decisive 90-64 victory over the Spurs on Friday.
Utah shot just 41.0 percent from the field and was held to its second-fewest points of the season, but held San Antonio to 26 points in the second half.
“We just go on a roll,” said Williams, who had 16 points and 11 assists for his 50th double-double of the season. “We played good defense. We were able to force some turnovers and got out on the run.”
Williams and the Jazz have taken two of three meetings in the season series with the Hornets, with each game won by the home team. Williams is averaging 21.0 points and 9.3 assists in the season series, while Paul is averaging 15.0 points and 9.3 assists.
Paul excelled against the Jazz at home on Feb. 29, when he had 24 points and 16 assists in a 110-98 New Orleans victory.
“When you play against the best, it brings out the best in you,” he said after that contest.
After Tuesday, New Orleans plays four of its final five games on the road, including games against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Lakers and contending Dallas Mavericks.