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NBA Game Summary - New Jersey at New Orleans

(Friday, March 7th)

Final Score: New Orleans 107, New Jersey 96

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Chris Paul scored 25 points and dished out 16 assists as the New Orleans Hornets surged past the New Jersey Nets, 107-96, at New Orleans Arena.

Paul was 7-of-14 from the field and made all 11 of his free throws for the Hornets, winners of three straight. Julian Wright came off the bench to contribute 20 points and eight rebounds, while Tyson Chandler notched a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards for New Orleans, which has won five of six.

The Hornets are 1 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the Western Conference, and just a game behind San Antonio for the top spot in the Southwest Division. The Lakers topped the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, while the Spurs fell in Denver.

New Orleans was without forward David West, who missed his second straight game with a sore left ankle.

Richard Jefferson poured in 27 points for the Nets, who dropped their fourth straight game. Vince Carter added 19 points and 10 assists, while Nenad Krstic tallied 17 points and 11 boards.

With the loss, the Nets fell three games behind Philadelphia for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers trounced Seattle, 117-83, Friday night.

The Nets scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed in the first half, leading 28-25 after the first quarter and 46-43 at intermission.

"I told the guys at the end of that first quarter that if we tighten up the defense a little bit, protect our shots a little better and rebound the ball, that we would be okay," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said.

New Orleans' offense finally awoke from its slumber early in the second half, as the Hornets scored the first four points after intermission to seize a 47-46 lead.

Krstic hit a jumper to put the Nets back up by one, but the Hornets reeled off the next dozen points, capped off by a three-point play from Peja Stojakovic and a free throw from Ryan Bowen to give New Orleans a 59-48 lead.

"I think we came out with a lot more intensity," Chandler said. "We started denying in the lane. Then we got some deflections, which helped out our offense."

New Jersey got as close as five, but the Hornets again pulled away, leading by as many as 14 and taking a 78-67 lead into the fourth quarter after outscoring the Nets 35-21 in the stanza.

"They were getting in the paint early on in the game," Wright said. "At the half coach really stressed for us to clog up the paint because it would be harder for them to get going and help us more to run. When we run the floor we get easier baskets."

Wright then scored nine points as part of a 13-4 run to open the fourth quarter, finished off by a jumper by Bowen that increased the edge to 91-76 with 7:36 to play.

The Nets didn't close to within single digits until Marcus Williams drained a three for a 96-87 deficit with 3:17 remaining. But, the Nets never got closer than eight down the stretch as New Orleans held on for the double-digit win.

Game Notes

Stojakovic finished with 15 points, but was just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc...Devin Harris finished 17 points and eight assists for New Jersey...New Orleans travels to Houston Saturday to face the red-hot Rockets, who have won 17 straight...New Jersey plays the fourth game of its five-game road trip Saturday in Dallas as the Nets reunite with former point guard Jason Kidd for the first time since trading him to the Mavericks in February.

03/08 01:39:40 ET

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