Paul had 31 points, 11 assists and a career-high nine steals, spoiling Jason Kidd’s debut with Dallas and lifting the New Orleans Hornets to a 104-93 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday night.
“We were excited that we would be their first game (with Kidd),” Paul said. “We knew it was going to take some time for them to get used to playing with those guys and we took full advantage of it.”
Kidd, acquired Tuesday from New Jersey, looked out of sorts at times, committing six turnovers.
“He made some great passes and some of the time guys weren’t looking for the ball,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “This is kind of like a mini-training camp. We just don’t have a lot of time. But at the same time, we need every practice and every game for everybody to get on the same page and everybody to get used to playing with Kidd.”
Kidd has had one full practice and one game-day shootaround with his new team. He finished with eight points and five assists.
“I caused a couple of breakdowns,” Kidd conceded. “We can build on this. … I have some bad habits. I just have to make some adjustments and look at the game. I just need to keep getting the feel of everybody and go to practice tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Paul’s dazzling performance on both ends of the floor had the enraptured crowd on its feet, raining down chants of “M-V-P!” for their own All-Star point guard while a banner offering similar sentiments flapped from the upper deck.
“It’s fun to watch. I was getting pumped up,” said Hornets center Tyson Chandler, who at one point early in the fourth quarter was jumping along the sideline, arms raised triumphantly, while waiting to check into the game. “Tonight was unbelievable. The guy was all over the place. He took a personal challenge to go out and just, I mean, he was incredible. I haven’t seen anything like that in a while.”
While Paul dribbled surgically through Dallas’ defense, Peja Stojakovic and Bobby Jackson shot with precision from the perimeter, combining for eight of the Hornets’ 10 3-pointers as New Orleans won its fifth straight.
Stojakovic made three 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Jackson hit five and wound up with 17 points. David West also scored 18 for New Orleans, despite playing with foul trouble in the second half.
“It was a game we had to come in and be dominant and show everybody what we could do,” Jackson said. “We’ve got so many great shooters and guys who can make plays, when one person gets going it opens up the floor for everybody else.”
Paul, whose nine steals also tied a franchise high, scored 19 points in the third quarter, when he hit all seven of his shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to help New Orleans surge to an 11-point lead.
New Orleans began to pull away when Stojakovic hit a jumper and Paul followed with an open 3 after Kidd got tangled up with two other players and fell. Soon after, Paul fed Hilton Armstrong inside for a three-point play, then Paul capped a 10-2 run with a pull-up jumper with just over a second left in the third quarter to give New Orleans a 75-64 lead heading into the final period.
New Orleans widened its lead to 17 in the fourth quarter, when Jackson made two of his 3-pointers and Dallas began to look tired and miss shots.
Neither team led by more than six during an intense but sometimes sloppy first half during which both teams turned the ball over 11 times.
Nowitzki and West each scored 14 points during the first two periods, but both also were called for three fouls.
Kidd made an immediate contribution on Dallas’ first possession, feeding Josh Howard for a basket inside. However, he sometimes looked out of synch with his new teammates, who sometimes pulled him aside after unfruitful possessions and pointed out instructions.
Some of Kidd’s problems had more to do with Paul, who set a franchise record for steals in a half with seven.
Dallas outshot and outrebounded New Orleans during the first half, but Stojakovic and Jackson each hit three 3-pointers and Stojakovic turned one of those into a four-point play when he was fouled. Paul then hit a pull-up jumper in the final minute of the second quarter, giving New Orleans a 47-44 halftime lead.
Shooting guard Morris Peterson returned to the Hornets’ starting lineup after missing the Hornets’ last three games before the All-Star break. He played only 13 minutes and had two points. … Attendance was 15,941, about 1,300 short of a sellout. … The Mavericks have dropped four in a row on the road and are 12-16 away from home.