Hornets win, stay alive in playoff race

4-10-07 -- David West scored a season-high 33 points, including three straight baskets in overtime, to lead the Hornets into the thick of the playoff race with a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

West put back a missed 3-pointer by Devin Brown to put the Hornets up 96-93 and then added a right wing jumper and another putback to give New Orleans a seven-point lead.

The overtime surge helped make up for a late-game lapse for West, who went for a steal and was beaten for a game-tying dunk by Elton Brand with 9.5 seconds left in regulation.

With the help of missed free throws by Chris Paul and West, the Clippers had one last chance to tie it. Brown intercepted a long inbounds pass by Corey Maggette to seal the win and prompt streamers to fall from the ceiling.

Brown scored 25 points to equal his career best, and Paul added 17 points and 10 assists for New Orleans. The Hornets moved within one game of Golden State for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Clippers are in ninth place, a half-game behind the Warriors and the same margin ahead of the Hornets. New Orleans closes its season at the Clippers on April 18.

Brand tied his season high with 37 points, Maggette had 24 points and Chris Kaman added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has lost three straight.

The Hornets are 7-0 in overtime this season.

New Orleans eliminated an 11-point halftime deficit with a 16-5 surge to start the third quarter, with Paul evening the score at 57 on a driving layup with 6:23 left in the period. Brown put the Hornets in the lead with a 3-pointer from the left wing, and West and Paul pushed the advantage to 66-60 with back-to-back runners in the lane.

The lead reached seven before the Clippers came back.

Brown gave the Hornets an 89-85 lead with 1:22 left in regulation when he stole the ball and raced downcourt for a right-handed jam.

Brand responded with a jumper from the left side, and Paul missed a jumper that appeared to nick the bottom of the rim before the Hornets were called for a shot clock violation. Brand missed a jumper for the tie, but the Clippers got another chance when Cuttino Mobley knocked an inbounds pass to Jason Hart in a scrum on the floor near midcourt.

That's when Brand whirled past West, who was going for a steal, and went in for the dunk.

Paul hit two foul shots for New Orleans, but Brand answered with a jumper from the left side with one second left to send it to overtime. West couldn't get a shot off before the regulation buzzer, but more than made up for it in the extra period.

After the lead changed hands eight times in the first quarter, Los Angeles used a 16-1 run capped by five straight points from Brand to go up 41-29 midway through the second quarter. The Clippers led 52-41 at halftime.