So while Paul was dribbling circles around Seattle’s porous perimeter defense, he made sure to keep an eye on where Peterson wandered.
“I see it when he’s got his bounce going,” Paul said.
Paul, the Hornets’ dynamic point guard was outstanding again at finding Peterson and all his Hornets’ teammates on Wednesday night. Paul scored 21 points and had 15 assists, Peterson scored 25 points and matched his career-high with seven 3-pointers, and New Orleans beat the SuperSonics 107-93, snapping a three-game road losing skid.
Peterson showed just how dangerous a shooter he can be in the Hornets’ offense, but it was Paul that caused migraines all night for whomever had the misfortune of trying to slow him down.
Paul consistently beat Seattle guards Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour off the dribble, getting into the lane and creating opportunities all over the floor for his teammates. Three times it led to a lob dunk for Tyson Chandler. Sometimes it was a short jumper for David West. Often, the collapsing defense left Peterson open on the perimeter.
Peterson made 7 of 10 3-point attempts, finishing one off the franchise record of eight held by David Wesley. Two nights earlier in Portland, Peterson missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
“There’s not too many guys in this league that can penetrate and get through the seems like Chris can and it puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” Peterson said. “The only thing you’ve got to do is make shots.”
There was some brief concern in the final minute as Paul slipped on a wet spot and his left knee buckled. He walked off the court with a slight limp, but said afterward he was fine, as he munched on some french fries before the long flight back to New Orleans.
West finished with 17 points 11 rebounds and Chandler had 16 points and 17 rebounds.
Rookie Kevin Durant led Seattle with 18 points, but it was an uninspired performance by the Sonics, who staged a second-half rally to nearly beat the Hornets in New Orleans on Dec. 9.
Coach P.J. Carlesimo was especially distraught afterward, calling out the lack of effort by his starters and hinting at changes on the horizon if the performance doesn’t change.
“If we can’t match the other teams energy and if we can’t compete on the defensive end to begin a game, then we have to think about making changes,” Carlesimo said.
The Hornets quickly shrugged off their lackluster offensive performance on Monday night in Portland, where they scored just 76 points, and put Seattle behind from the start.
Peterson’s first 3-pointer gave New Orleans an early 15-8 lead and Seattle could never get closer than four points early in the second quarter.
Two long scoring droughts certainly didn’t help Seattle. The Sonics went 5 1/2 minutes without scoring in the first quarter, then had a stretch of nearly four minutes in the second quarter without points.
Already leading by 19 at halftime, Peterson only padded the lead with a flurry of shots early in the third quarter. Peterson knocked down a trio of 3s and scored 11 points in the first 5 minutes of the quarter. Seattle didn’t make a dent in the Hornets’ lead until late in the fourth quarter, and a pair of Chandler tip-ins made sure the Sonics never got closer than 11.
“We definitely had a rhythm going. It makes things easy when guys are knocking down 3’s like that,” Chandler said.
Led by its bench, Seattle showed a spark early in the second quarter, getting within 32-26 when Jeff Green tipped in Mickael Gelabale’s miss with 5:47 left. But New Orleans outscored 13-0 over the next 3:58 to take a 19-point lead. The lead reached 20 at the very end of the first half when Peterson hit his third 3-pointer of the half to give the Hornets a 52-32 lead. Watson added a free throw in the final second, but Seattle still had a season-low halftime total.
“We need to play a lot harder and better than we played across the board,” Carlesimo said.
Seattle G Delonte West missed his eighth game with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. West has started doing light running on the treadmill, but still doesn’t have an estimated time on his return. … Hornets’ F Peja Stojakovic missed his third straight with a groin injury. … Members of the No. 7 Washington State basketball team were in attendance on Wednesday. The Cougars play their yearly game in Seattle on Thursday night against The Citadel.