NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Chris Paul’s three triple-doubles in the first two months of the season have impressed, but not surprised, his teammates.
“He’s one of the best point guards ever to grace this game,” Hornets shooting guard Rasual Butler said. “He’s the ultimate talent.”
Paul had 15 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds, tying a franchise record with his seventh career triple-double, and New Orleans beat the Washington Wizards 97-85 on Tuesday night.
Paul routinely reaches double figures in points and assists, but this time had 10 rebounds before scoring his 10th point on a free throw with less than 3 minutes to go. The crowd acknowledged the feat with a roar as the foul shot went down.
“Anytime you can do something like get a triple-double and get a win, it’s great for the team and the organization,” Paul said. “I did notice I was getting more rebounds than normal because when I get rebounds I can start the break. I don’t have to wait for anybody to throw it to me.”
Butler scored 21 points and David West 20 for New Orleans, which led most of the way and never trailed by more than a basket in its third straight victory.
“CP kind of noticed that I was feeling it a little bit. He looked for me,” Butler said.
Antawn Jamison scored 22 for Washington, while Mike James added 16 points and seven assists against the team that traded him to the Wizards this season. James struggled defensively against Paul, however, fouling out in the fourth quarter, when he also was called for a technical for arguing with officials.
“There’s no such thing as individual victories. There’s no such thing as moral victories,” James said. “The only way you’re judged in this game is wins and losses.
“Chris Paul is their general,” James continued. “He got the job done for them and they always feed off his energy. Rasual knocked down some big shots and that was it.”
New Orleans led 68-63 to open the fourth quarter, then began to pull away when Antonio Daniels, who came to New Orleans in the trade for James, fed West inside for a dunk. That sparked a 6-0 run that put the Hornets up 84-71 with 6 minutes to go.
Jamison’s inside basket and free throw during a 5-0 run helped Washington cut its deficit to 84-76, but James was called for a foul on Paul’s drive and received his technical while arguing the call. Paul hit both free throws and the technical foul shot, completing a three-point possession that made it 87-76 with 3:49 left.
The Wizards pulled within single digits once more on Jamison’s free throw before Paul responded with two foul shots and a fast-break layup to ice the game.
New Orleans hit 10 3-pointers, with Butler accounting for five and Posey three.
“When those guys are shooting the ball like that we’re almost unstoppable because it allows me to get in the lane, get lobs to Tyson, D-West does what he does,” Paul said.
Washington was 1-of-9 on 3-point attempts. The Hornets also had the advantage on free throws, hitting 21 of 26 while Washington was 12-of-18.
The Hornets controlled the game early, leading 25-15 after Paul’s driving layup. Dominic McGuire’s jumper to close out the first quarter started an 8-0 Wizards run that ended when Jamison scored inside early in the second period, cutting New Orleans’ lead to 25-24.
The Hornets briefly rebuilt their lead behind 3s from Posey, Daniels and Butler, and went ahead 38-30 on Paul’s crossover dribble and drive down the lane for a finger roll. Washington tied the game again at 41 with another 8-0 run highlighted by McGuire’s short fadeaway as he was fouled by Chandler.
After the teams exchanged baskets, Posey’s third 3 put New Orleans back ahead with 2.1 seconds to go in the first half, but DeShawn Stevenson drained a 42-foot rainbow heave at the horn to tie it at 46.
Wizards F Caron Butler (left ankle) missed his third straight game. … Several members of Alabama’s football team, in town for Friday’s Sugar Bowl, were roundly booed when introduced and shown on a video board during a timeout. Several Utah players were there as well, but their introduction was drowned out by the boos aimed at Alabama. The crowd then broke into chants of “L-S-U” until play resumed. … The Hornets recorded their 800th regular-season win in franchise history.