HL:West scores 40 and Hornets erase 18-point hole to beat Magic, 100-93
By Brett Martel
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW ORLEANS - David West scored 40 points and the New Orleans Hornets erased an 18-point deficit in the second half to beat the Orlando Magic 100-93 on Friday night.
Marcus Thornton scored 18, including a three-pointer that made it 96-86 with 51 seconds to go. Fellow rookie Darren Collison added 16 points.
Dwight Howard led Orlando with 26, but scored only five points and only one of his eight dunks came after Hornets coach Jeff Bower called on seldom-used seven-foot reserve Aaron Gray in the third quarter to muscle Orlando's all-star away from the basket.
That's when the Hornets' comeback began and the Magic ran out of steam, hitting only four of 18 shots in the fourth quarter. Gray added six points, all during a crucial stretch in the final period.
His short jumper in the lane gave the Hornets an 87-86 lead and began an 11-0 run in the final minutes that put away the game.
Jameer Nelson scored 19 for the Magic, while J.J. Redick added 11 and Matt Barnes 10.
Howard was able to establish good inside position against Hornets 6-10 starting centre Emeka Okafor. His seventh dunk of the game, along with his short hook and free throw, helped fuel a 13-2 run that put the Magic up 71-53.
Soon after, Bower subbed in the 270-pound Gray, a third-year pro out of Pittsburgh, and Howard's offence fell off dramatically.
That allowed the Hornets, and the crowd, to get back into the game. Collison hit a pair of jumpers and West added a tough 20-foot fade and an inside basket during a 10-0 run. New Orleans later pulled to 75-69 on West's floater.
After Orlando started to rebuild its lead on Barnes' three and Redick's layup, Collison responded with a three, and New Orleans trailed 80-72 heading into the final quarter.
New Orleans then scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter, while Orlando opened the period with four missed shots and two turnovers.
West hit a three as the shot clock wound down and added a fast-break layup to put New Orleans up 81-80 with 8:24 to go. The Magic twice regained the lead before New Orleans took over.
West scored 10 points in the first quarter, putting New Orleans up by as much as eight when his 15-foot fade made it 18-10.
Shooting 64 per cent in the second quarter (14 of 22), Orlando stormed into the lead when Redick's layup made it 33-32.
West helped keep New Orleans close for most of the first half, hitting a pair of free throws to give him 22 points and pull the Hornets to 47-44.
Rashard Lewis then hit a three, the start of a 9-2 Orlando run to close the second quarter. The spurt included Howard's fifth dunk of the game and a pair of baskets by Nelson to make it 56-46 at halftime.
NOTES: West has scored 40 or more points five times in his career, with a career high of 44. ... The Hornets had only two assists in the first half, both by Collison. ... The Magic won the only other meeting this season in Orlando on Feb. 8, 123-117. Vince Carter scored 48 in that game as the Magic erased a 17-point deficit. Carter had eight points in the rematch. ... The Hornets are 6-7 since all-star Chris Paul went out with a left knee injury. Paul is expected to return in the next one to three weeks. ... West was called for a technical foul for throwing an elbow at Carter.
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