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Paul's Late Bucket Wins It In New Jersey

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ The point guard made the clutch plays, huge shots, and everything else his team needed to win.

Happens often in New Jersey. Only this time, the Nets were the victims.

Chris Paul made the tiebreaking layup with 2.6 seconds left and finished with a season-high 27 points, leading the New Orleans Hornets to an 84-82 victory over the Nets on Monday night.

``Chris is very clever with the ball,'' the Nets' Jason Kidd said. ``He's a great point guard. He got to his right and was able to hit a tough shot, but that's what great players do. They make the shot.''

Paul added seven assists and six rebounds in his marquee point guard matchup with Kidd. He had another huge play shortly before his basket, coming up with a steal after his own miss and finding Morris Peterson, who converted a four-point play to tie it with a minute left.

``I don't know how we won the game,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said. ``These are the type of games last year we probably would have lost. It tells a lot about the resiliency we have on this team. Chris Paul wasn't having one of his best nights in terms of taking care of the ball but man, did he come up with a big steal after turning it over.''

In the only other games Monday, Denver beat Cleveland 122-100, and Utah routed Sacramento 117-93.

Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets (6-2), who made up a late 11-point deficit and won on back-to-back nights following their first two losses of the season.

``There were a few times down the stretch where I felt it might be over, we might not get back into it,'' Paul said. ``We showed a lot of fight. The starters got us into that situation. Thankfully, we were able to get us out of that situation.''

Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 32 points for the Nets, but he was shut out in the fourth quarter after a huge third. Kidd finished with 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

``We had an eight-, nine-point lead without me scoring in the fourth quarter. So obviously we were doing something right,'' Jefferson said. ``My job is to get my teammates open. In the third quarter I had a bunch of shots, in the fourth quarter we had great looks. We just made a couple of bonehead plays down the stretch that didn't allow us to finish it out.''

New Jersey played without Vince Carter, who sprained his ankle Saturday in a loss to Boston and is out indefinitely. Antoine Wright, who started for Carter, was just short with a potential tying jumper before the buzzer.

``This one hurts probably more than anything right now because it's a game where we should have won, but just made some bad plays,'' Wright said.

New Orleans controlled the first two quarters, but Jefferson scored 16 points _ equaling the Hornets' total _ as the Nets turned around the game in the third.

New Jersey eventually went ahead by 11 on Wright's bucket with under 5 minutes to play. But Paul made a 3-pointer to trigger a 10-1 spurt that pulled the Hornets to 80-78 on David West's basket with 2:11 left.

The Nets still seemed safe after Wright knocked down a jumper, then Paul turned it over and missed a shot. But he followed that miss by swiping the ball from Jason Collins, who then added to his mistake by fouling Peterson.

``I felt a lot of responsibility because the previous two or three possessions, I either turned it over or missed a shot,'' Paul said. ``When I was able to get that steal, Mo P hit the biggest shot of the game. The four-point play changed the game around.''

Paul entered the game averaging a league-high 11.1 assists, with Kidd just behind at 10.5. Kidd claimed the starting point guard spot on the U.S. national team last summer that the injured Paul manned for most of the 2006 world championships.

Paul got off to a quick start, scoring 13 points in the first quarter to help New Orleans open a 26-21 lead. Peja Stojakovic hit all three 3-point attempts in the period, then nailed another one with 5:01 remaining in the half to give the Hornets their largest lead, 42-29.

New Orleans led 49-37 at the half, but the Nets quickly got back into it as Jefferson asserted himself in the third. Kidd drilled a 3 with 56 seconds left and the Nets brought a 67-65 lead to the final period.

Nuggets 122, Cavaliers 100

Allen Iverson scored a season-high 37 points, J.R. Smith added 29, and host Denver won its third straight.

Iverson finished 14-for-20 from the field and added eight assists, and Carmelo Anthony had 22 points and nine rebounds.

LeBron James led Cleveland, which was playing the second game of a back-to-back, with 27 points. Ira Newble added 17.

Jazz 117, Kings 93

Carlos Boozer had 32 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season, and host Utah beat the short-handed Kings.

Andrei Kirilenko added 15 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three blocks for the Jazz, who won their fourth in a row.

The Kings played without three of their starters and were outrebounded 41-32 and committed 19 turnovers. John Salmons led Sacramento with 22 points.
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