- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Chris Paul had 30 points and 14 assists, David West added 19 points, and the New Orleans Hornets moved closer to the top of the Southwest Division by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 104-98 on Wednesday night.

The Hornets are just one game behind idle San Antonio in the Southwest Division and a half-game behind Houston, which lost in Phoenix.

Eric Gordon scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including a jumper that put Los Angeles ahead by one. Zach Randolph added 24 for the Clippers, who lost their ninth straight to New Orleans.

The Hornets had a 10-point lead early in the fourth, but the Clippers fought back to take the lead midway through the quarter. The teams traded baskets down the stretch until Paul hit a 20-footer from the left side of the key to put the Hornets ahead for good, 98-95.

West played with a sore left ankle and seemed to be struggling with his mobility at times, most notably when he couldn’t catch Fred Jones in transition after a turnover in the third. But he played 44 minutes.

Hornets coach Byron Scott had planned to sit West, who was hurt Tuesday in Sacramento, but allowed him to play because West said the ankle wasn’t bothering him.

Los Angeles went on a 12-4 run midway through the fourth, taking the lead on Gordon’s 19-footer. But Paul took over from there. He scored six of the final 10 points for the Hornets, who are tied for fifth in the Western Conference.

The Clippers played without the injured Al Thornton (foot) for the second straight night but had chances late. However, Randolph missed a 3-pointer and Gordon lost the ball under the basket with less than a minute remaining.

The Clippers, boosted by the return of Baron Davis, went on a 9-0 run late in the first half. The point guard, who missed two games because of a strained calf and an ulcer, had a behind-the-back pass to Chris Kaman for a dunk and was all smiles even after being knocked down and into a cameraman on the sidelines.

But Paul came back to help spark an 8-0 run that lasted 1:15 and New Orleans left the half ahead 51-48.

Paul, who had 12 points in the first, helped New Orleans take advantage of 14 Los Angeles turnovers.

Notes:@ The Hornets’ James Posey missed his third straight game. He was suspended for the first after throwing a ball at a referee and sat against the Kings and Clippers because of a sore left elbow. Posey will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

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