New Orleans won despite missing center P.J. Brown and guards J.R. Smith and Speedy Claxton. Brown, attending his mother-in-law’s funeral, missed his second consecutive game. Smith missed his fourth straight game due to a sprained left ankle, and Claxton sat out his second in a row with a sprained right ankle.
“We knew we were going to have to make it a scrappy game … make the game ugly,” West said. “We’re down three guys. We knew we had to put it together. We had a good game plan. We came out and run, run, run and it worked.”
New Orleans (4-5) has won two straight. The Hornets didn’t get their fourth win last season until Jan. 11, in their 33rd game.
“We had a whole of reasons why we could’ve just called this game in, but we didn’t,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “We’re starting to see a young team mature and it has a sense of purpose. I’m proud of the way they played.”
“This isn’t the way I thought we’d begin our season … I’ll tell you that,” said Magic guard Steve Francis, who had 21 points. “I didn’t think that we would consistently give games away. I didn’t think that we would keep letting things slip through our hands. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
After Paul scored a fastbreak basket to put New Orleans ahead 90-86, Francis made it a one-point game on a 3-pointer with 1:02 left. Paul responded with his own 3 to extend the Hornets’ lead to 93-89 with 41.8 seconds to go.
After a defensive stop, West hit a pair of free throws to make it 95-91 lead with 28.6 seconds remaining. Paul also hit a two free throws down the stretch.
“David West scored almost enough points for the whole team tonight,” Paul said. “That is just having guys step up when we needed them to.”
New Orleans converted 15 of 20 free throw attempts in the fourth. The Magic did not go to the line in the period.
“That’s an interesting stat,” Magic coach Brian Hill said.
New Orleans was 25-for-38 overall. Orlando shot 22 free throws, making 15.
West scored 20 points—four more than his career-best—in the first half as the Hornets took a 48-43 halftime lead. The advantage might have been bigger, but New Orleans went 6-of-14 from the foul line.
“He was just on fire,” Howard said of West. “He had a great night.”
Francis and Turkoglu had eight points each in the third, helping the Magic go up 70-68.
Dooling scored nine points, including a three-point play, as Orlando used a 15-1 run to take a 32-28 advantage 3 minutes into the second.
“We felt like this was a game we should have got,” Dooling said. “They came out here and took control on our home court. You’ve just got to bounce back.”
West’s 34 points was the most by an Orlando opponent this season. … Magic F Grant Hill (sports hernia) has resumed light jogging. He is not expected back until at least mid-December. … Both New Orleans (54.7) and Orlando (50.7) shot over 50 percent from the field.