Paul leads Hornets past Bucks, 95-91By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010
Paul had 17 points and 16 assists, and New Orleans held on for a 95-91 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night in the regular season opener for both clubs.
Carlos Delfino(notes) hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points for Milwaukee, which led 72-67 late in the third quarter, but fell behind for good when Peja Stojakovic’s(notes) 3-pointer, his only basket, put New Orleans up 73-72 soon after.
During the offseason, Paul had expressed dissatisfaction with the Hornets’ lack of competitiveness and said he’d be willing to accept a trade if the Hornets did not demonstrate a commitment to quickly becoming a contender in the tough Western Conference.
New Orleans looked solid against a feisty Bucks squad with playoff expectations in the East. The Hornets led the entire fourth quarter, in large part because Paul closed out the third with a tough floater and 3 at the buzzer to make it 78-72.
Paul also made a clutch pull-up jumper with 2:17 to go in the final period and added a couple free throws with 1:10 left.
The game kicked off a new era for the Hornets, who after missing the playoffs last season hired Williams, as well as new general manager Dell Demps. The Hornets then went to work on overhauling their roster with a series of trades that brought in new starters Belinelli and small forward Trevor Ariza(notes).
Ariza had 11 points in his Hornets debut, including a dunk set up by Belinelli to put the Hornets up 90-84 late in the game. Still, it was the foundation that remained—Paul and West—that led the way. West scored the Hornets’ first 10 points of the second half, hitting four jumpers set up by Paul.
West, however, was in foul trouble much of the night, which limited him to 27 minutes. He committed his fifth foul with 9:24 left in the game and was subbed in and out often late in the game to minimize the amount he had to play defense.
Belinelli, acquired in an offseason trade for Julian Wright(notes), scored seven points in the opening period, including an off-balance floater as he soared across the lane to help the Hornets build an early 20-10 lead.
New Orleans led 29-20 on Willie Green’s(notes) jumper, but New Orleans’ reserve unit faltered after that. Maggette, who scored 10 points before he’d been in the game for four minutes, hit a pair of driving layups, including one while he was fouled for a three-point play, during a 10-0 run that gave Milwaukee a 30-29 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Notes: Milwaukee guard Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes), who has an eye injury, did not travel to New Orleans with the team, while forwards Jon Brockman(notes) (left ankle) and Luc Mbah a Moute (right ankle) did not dress for the game. … The Bucks also opened the season without guard Michael Redd(notes), who is rehabilitating from offseason left knee surgery. … Attendance for the home opener was 15,039, more than 2,000 short of a sellout.