Hornets hold off Trail Blazers

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)—The New Orleans Hornets signed free-agent James Posey for his defense, his championship pedigree and his clutch shooting.

The first two things should benefit the Hornets in the long run. His big-shot ability helped them beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

David West scored 18 points and Posey hit two 3-pointers—New Orleans’ only baskets in the last 8:30—to help the Hornets outlast the Blazers 87-82.

Posey’s first 3-pointer gave the Hornets the lead for good, 77-74. His next one extended the lead to four at 80-76, allowing them to hold on in a game where neither team led by more than seven points.

“It just came in the flow of the game,” Posey said. “The guys on this team trust each other to do what we do best. I got open, and they were able to find me.”

West almost fumbled a pass out of bounds on Posey’s go-ahead 3, retrieving the ball just before it landed on the baseline and finding Posey wide open in the corner. For once, a shot went through the net.

Posey hit a combined four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Hornets broke open close games against Phoenix and Cleveland earlier this season.

“I’ve already seen it,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “Now it is becoming an instant replay.”

Portland’s only field goals in the last 6:59 came on Brandon Roy’s two 3-pointers in the final minute. Roy had a chance to tie it in the last 10 seconds, but his wild turnaround 3-pointer came nowhere close. New Orleans guard Devin Brown sealed the win two free throws with 7.3 seconds left.

“They picked up the pressure, and we stopped being aggressive and started running around,” Roy said. “We almost look timid sometimes. We have to work on that.”

Chris Paul added 17 points, nine assists and four steals to help the Hornets improve to 5-4. Portland lost for the first time in five games.

An already low-scoring game slowed down even more in the fourth quarter, when Portland shot 4-for-15 while New Orleans went 5-for-17.

The Blazers answered a 17-10 start for the Hornets with a 9-2 run to tie the score at 19, setting the tone for the rest of the night. New Orleans led by 2 at the end of the first quarter, Portland was ahead by three at the half and the Hornets went back ahead by two at the end of the third quarter. In the first half, both teams shot 18-for-36 from the field, had 17 rebounds and committed seven fouls.

Paul failed to score 20 points and hand out 10 assists for the first time this season, but he did enough to help the Hornets win. He, West and Posey, who finished with 14 points, were the only New Orleans players in double figures.

Injury-plagued Portland center Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, had career bests with 11 points and 11 rebounds in his second game back from a sprained foot he sustained in the season opener after missing all of his rookie season following microfracture knee surgery. He had seven of those points in the fourth quarter, including an emphatic dunk, but he received little help from his teammates.

“It felt good that I finally got my wind back somewhat,” Oden said.” I’m getting there. I’m still working on it and still trying to improve.”

LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points for the Trail Blazers.

Roy hit a desperation 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left to close the gap to 84-82. After a timeout, the Hornets inbounded the ball easily to Paul, who dribbled until he was fouled with two-tenths of a second remaining.

“We didn’t play great, but we still could have won this game,” Roy said. “That’s the only thing we can really take from tonight.”

Notes

The Hornets avoided falling to .500 for the first time since the end of the 2006-07 season. … New Orleans could not capitalize on a whistle advantage in the third quarter. The Trail Blazers were in the penalty with 5:34 left, and the Hornets did not commit their first foul until the 3:05 mark, but they outscored Portland only 18-15 during that span. … The Hornets and Blazers both made 30 field goals and seven 3-pointers. The difference was New Orleans’ 20-15 advantage at the foul line.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Portland
B. Roy Brandon Roy
7-17,  21 Pts
3 Rebs, 6 Assists
 New Orleans
C. Paul Chris Paul
4-12,  17 Pts
6 Rebs, 9 Assists

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Rebounds
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Friday, Nov 14