Paul had 16 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds and New Orleans tied a franchise record for single-season victories with 54 in a 108-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
It was the fourth career triple-double for Paul, who also had five steals and inspired boisterous chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” from a sellout crowd that watched the Hornets (54-22) win their 11th straight home game and fourth straight overall.
“Every record it seemed like the franchise had has gotten broken this year or is on the verge of it,” said Paul, who set a franchise record for single-season steals in a win over New York a game earlier and now has 199. “I feel like my team is the MVP. We are having an outstanding year.”
Certainly, Paul had help against Golden State and didn’t need to score his average of 21.5 points.
“That’s when good players show up and this team is full of them,” said Hornets center Tyson Chandler, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds to help New Orleans remain atop the Western Conference with six games remaining.
“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,” Chandler said. “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.”
Monta Ellis had 35 points and 10 rebounds to keep the Warriors close late into the final period, which Warriors coach Don Nelson called “a bright spot in kind of a gloomy game.”
“We should have had the ball more in his hands than we did, because he was really effective,” Nelson continued. “But it didn’t really matter. You either win or you lose.”
Baron Davis and Andris Biedrins each scored 17 points and Biedrins also had 15 rebounds for Golden State (46-31), which has lost three of four games and will need a strong finish to earn a playoff berth.
Al Harrington scored 16 points for the Warriors, who had only three points from reserves until the game’s final minute, when the result was no longer in doubt.
Golden State entered the day tied for the eighth seed in the Western Conference with Denver, which was slated to play Sunday night at Seattle.
“The season’s almost over, so there’s no need to change anything,” said Warriors forward Stephen Jackson, whose six points on 3-of-11 shooting were more than 14 below his average. “We just have to shoot better. We shoot better and we win. It’s that simple.”
New Orleans led 82-71 in the third quarter after a 13-2 run that included Stojakovic’s second 3-pointer of the game and Paul’s blazing end-to-end layup, after which he crashed over photographers set up on the baseline. West’s putback helped New Orleans take an 88-78 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors made one final push with a 12-0 run fueled by Ellis, whose jumper and fast-break dunk on back-to-back possessions tied the game at 90.
Paul responded with a 3 and New Orleans pulled away from there.
“I realized I hadn’t shot and wasn’t being aggressive,” Paul recalled. “As soon as I saw the opportunity—you know, Baron backed off of me—I was thinking, I can shoot a little bit. I might as well shoot it.”
Golden State had the early edge after Biedrins, who had 15 points in the first half, capped an 11-0 run with a fast break layup as he was fouled, giving the Warriors a 25-14 lead in the first quarter.
New Orleans responded with a 13-2 run early in the second quarter, pulling to 38-37 on Chandler’s tip-in.
Later in the period, Jannero Pargo sandwiched two 3s around another by rookie Julian Wright, then Paul’s under-thrown alley-oop lob went straight in the hoop for an 11-0 run that put New Orleans up 52-46.
Pargo ended up with 15 points in the second quarter, and Stojakovic’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave New Orleans a 59-51 halftime lead.
With nine 3-pointers in the game, the Hornets set a franchise record for 3s in a season with 592. The old mark was 591, set in the 1996-97 season. … New Orleans finished with a 26-5 advantage in points scored by reserves. … Attendance was 17,809, the Hornets’ 11th sellout of the season and 10th in 15 games. … The Hornets’ record for single-season wins was first set in 1996-97. Byron Scott has already achieved a personal mark for most wins in a season as a coach. He also has helped the Hornets set a franchise record for road wins with 25 this season. … Golden State fell to 21-19 on the road this season after scoring well below its average of 110.6 points per game.