Bucks get stung by Hornets
The emerging New Orleans stars are getting along as much like friends as teammates, and the longer they play together, the more formidable a combination they become.
Chandler had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets got their fifth win, 106-92 over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Four of Chandler’s baskets came on alley-oop dunks, three set up by Paul, who finished with 16 points and 10 assists.
It was the third straight game in which Chandler and Paul reached double figures in two categories. It was the 14th time they’ve done it this season, all resulting in New Orleans victories.
“It’s absolutely crazy, but it’s just like with your best friend or your buddy—you can understand what they’re thinking before they even say it,” Chandler said. “It’s all about eye contact and feeling the game. I know exactly what he’s thinking and what he wants out there, and he knows what I want to do.”
Paul shares the feeling.
“I couldn’t imagine playing with another center other than Tyson right now. He’s helped me out so much, just having that option to throw it to the rim. ... I think we compliment each other really well.”
And that’s only two players on an entire team that seems to be playing well lately.
Peja Stojakovic scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers, while David West had 16 and Morris Peterson added 14, treating a jubilant home crowd to New Orleans’ fourth straight double-digit victory at home.
The Hornets are 16-0 when reaching 100 points.
“Right now, we have the ultimate confidence,” Paul said. “We approach every game knowing that we want to win ... that this team is going to win.”
Charlie Villanueva scored 18 for the Bucks, and Mo Williams added 16 points. Andrew Bogut had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Michael Redd led Milwaukee with 19 points. But after scoring 17 in the first half to help the Bucks hold a four-point lead at halftime, Redd missed his last nine shots.
“We were missing open shots,” Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “To survive and win games, when you’re open ... you need to make shots. As simple as it sounds, that’s something we didn’t do in the second half.”
The Hornets made their perimeter shots early in the second half, which helped them surge into the lead for good.
Stojakovic hit a three-pointer from the left corner, then Peterson converted a four-point play by making a left-wing 3 as he was fouled. In between, Paul found Chandler for their first alley-oop connection, part of a 12-0 run that put the Hornets ahead 62-56.
Peterson’s three-pointer from the left corner a few possessions later gave the Hornets a 67-60 lead. Milwaukee got as close as 71-69 on Bogut’s free throw. But Stojakovic hit another 3, and Paul sank a driving floater off the glass, igniting an 11-0 run that included back-to-back alley-oops from Paul to Chandler early in the fourth quarter.
Chandler made nine shots in a row in the second half.
His last basket in that streak was his final alley-oop dunk, this time set up by Jannero Pargo. That gave New Orleans a 101-80 lead with 4:04 left, and the crowd stood in applause throughout the following Milwaukee timeout.
“We’ve got to get to a place where we’re more mature,” Redd said. “They made a push and it seemed like we folded. We can’t afford to do that.”
The Hornets were lethargic at the start, shooting nine percent through the first six minutes.
Redd, meanwhile, made four of his first five shots and the Bucks used a 13-0 run to take a 15-6 lead. Redd had 13 points and two 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, which ended with Milwaukee leading 24-17.
New Orleans pulled to 54-50 by halftime.
Notes: Hornets reserve guard Bobby Jackson sat out with a strained right hamstring. ... Bucks forward Desmond Mason, who played for the Hornets the last two seasons but has been out with a left thumb injury, did not travel on the only trip Milwaukee makes to New Orleans this season. ... Despite a Martin Luther King Day promotion granting free admission to each child under 12 accompanied by an adult, attendance was announced at 11,633. ... Peterson hit four 3-pointers. New Orleans is 24-3 when he makes at least one.