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Buzzing Hornets sting Spurs

THE New Orleans Hornets shrugged off the absence of three key players to surprise the San Antonio Spurs 90-86 on Sunday.

Chris Paul scored 26 points, including three free throws in the final seconds, and had nine assists while teammate David West delivered 23 points and 16 rebounds.

The Hornets (45-27) ended a three-game winning streak by the Spurs (48-25), the No. 2 team in the Western Conference. New Orleans is tied with Utah for sixth place in the conference.

"I guess this (victory) would be pretty surprising to people," Hornets coach Byron Scott told reporters.

New Orleans was playing without center Tyson Chandler (left ankle), Peja Stojakovic (back) and James Posey (one-game suspension).

"But that's the beauty of the NBA. On paper, we probably had no chance of winning this game. And that's how I presented it to (the players).

"I said, 'Everyone thinks we're going to lose this game and that it's not even going to be close. But if we come out and play with the intensity we can play with, we can win the game.' I thought we did that."

The Hornets' Antonio Daniels was especially impressed with Paul. "He's a winner," Daniels said. "That play he made to get three free throws - that's just basketball intelligence."

In other National Basketball Association games, it was: Cavaliers 102, Mavericks 74; Hawks 86, Lakers 76; Celtics 103, Thunder 84; Raptors 134, Bulls 129 (in overtime); Timberwolves 108, Nets 99; Pistons 101, 76ers 97; Pacers 124, Wizards 115; and Kings 126, Suns 118.

In New Orleans, the Hornets were 32-of-33 from the foul line overall, making their last 31, to compensate for 37.5 percent shooting.

Tony Parker led San Antonio with 20 points and Tim Duncan added 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Manu Ginobili was also in double figures with 17 points.

Hornets forward Posey was suspended for the game without pay for throwing a ball at a game official last Friday in a loss at New York.

In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 24 points with 12 assists as the Cavaliers made more history with victory over the Dallas Mavericks, extending their winning streak to a franchise record 12 straight.

The Cavaliers, who earlier this week surpassed the club mark for wins in a season, trailed 20-35 in the first quarter and 47-49 at halftime. But Cleveland outscored Dallas 30-11 in the third quarter and 55-25 in the second half to improve to a league-best 35-1 at home.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 for the Mavericks.

In Atlanta, Mike Bibby scored 21 points and the Hawks took advantage of a tough outing for Kobe Bryant, knocking the Lakers another game behind Cleveland in the race for the NBA's best overall record.

The Lakers had won five straight, locking up the top seed in the Western Conference, but an ailing Bryant had just 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting against Atlanta.

Pau Gasol was the only other Los Angeles player in double figures, leading with 21 points, as the Lakers made just 35 percent (28-of-80) from the field.

Zaza Pachulia had 11 points and 13 rebounds, leading a strong effort by the thin Hawks bench. The reserves combined for 29 points and 15 rebounds.


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