NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Chris Paul had 21 points, 13 assists and six steals, and the New Orleans Hornets won their seventh straight game, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-90 on Saturday night.
Julian Wright tied a career high with 20 points and Rasual Butler also scored 20 for the Hornets, while David West had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook scored 24 points and Damien Wilkins had 18 Oklahoma City, which lost for the first time in four games.
Paul was forced to sit out the last half of the third quarter after committing his fourth foul, and Oklahoma City was within 76-72 when the period ended. He returned and the Hornets opened the fourth quarter on 15-3 run that included a pair of 3s by James Posey, the second coming in transition after Wright hustled back to block Westbrook’s fast-break layup attempt on the other end.
Wright capped the surge with a transition jumper set up by Paul’s steal, and the Hornets led 91-75. The Thunder didn’t threaten again.
It was the best game of the season for Wright, a first-round draft choice whose second NBA campaign hadn’t met expectations to this point. He had averaged fewer than 10 minutes of playing time until coach Byron Scott decided to start him after Peja Stojakovic was sidelined by back spasms this week.
Wright was active on both ends of the floor and ran hard in transition, throwing down several dunks, twice on alley-oops. One of Wright’s four assists set up Tyson Chandler’s alley-oop jam and Wright also had seven rebounds.
Chandler finished with 12 points and Posey 11, hitting three 3-pointers as the Hornets outshot the Thunder 53.8 percent to 39.8 percent. New Orleans also finished with a 44-38 rebounding edge.
Kyle Weaver had 13 points for Oklahoma City and Earl Watson 12.
Chandler threw down a pair of alley-oop lobs in the opening minutes and the Hornets led 17-5 on Butler’s jumper less than half way through the first quarter. West added eight points in the opening period, after which New Orleans led 31-18.
When Paul went to the bench for his usual rest to start the second quarter, New Orleans stagnated and the Thunder took advantage with an 11-0 run on baskets by five different players, including a 3 by Chucky Atkins.
New Orleans began scoring again when Paul returned, but this time the Thunder stayed close, tying it at 39 on Westbrook’s soaring one-handed jam.
Wright’s 3 highlighted a 7-0 run that put the Hornets back up 46-39 before Westbrook and Wilkins combined for 10 points for the Thunder in the final few minutes of the quarter, with Wilkins’ jumper at the halftime horn pulling Oklahoma City to 53-49.
The Thunder briefly took a 54-53 lead on Nenad Krstic’s 3 early in the third quarter, but New Orleans quickly regain the lead on jumpers by Butler and Paul and never trailed again.