Chris Paul returned to play in the New Orleans Arena Thursday night for the first time since April 28, 2011 in front of possibly the biggest crowd The Hive has seen all season. This time, he was a Clipper. The outcome? Great…. for the New Orleans Hornets as they beat the Los Angeles Clippers 97-90, sending them on a three game losing streak.
Center Chris Kaman led the Hornets with a double double against his former team, posting 20 points and 10 boards. The Clippers actually led the Hornets most of the game until a 4th quarter run by the Hornets put them on top. The Hornets held the Clippers to only 11 points in the final quarter.
Paul had 16 points for L.A. but struggled from the field this game, shooting only 5-14. Blake Griffin added 21 points and 11 rebounds after coming off of a career-low 7 points against the Thunder.
The spark the Hornets had in the 4th quarter was one we have yet to see all season. Jason Smith even got ejected for a flagrant 2 against Griffin, which sent Griffin on a hard fall to the court. As Smith walked to the locker room the crowd cheered. Not because it was a good foul, but because this new intensity from their team was something that’s been missing all year.
The motivation of the evening was clearly to beat Chris Paul and his new team. And as only their 12th win of the season, I’m sure this will be the sweetest win the Hornets have in 2012.