Fri. Final: Hornets 95, Bucks 94
Next game: Saturday, February 28th vs. Washington
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The New Orleans Hornets tried to trade Tyson Chandler to the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. They probably feel fortunate he's still around after failing his physical.
Chandler tipped in a missed shot off the backboard with 3.3 seconds left to give the Hornets a 95-94 win after they blew a 17-point lead with four minutes remaining.
Charlie Bell capped an amazing comeback with a 3-pointer from the corner -- Milwaukee's sixth consecutive 3 in the last 3:22 after trailing 89-72 -- as the Bucks went ahead 94-93 with 10.5 seconds left. But Chandler saved the Hornets from a stunning defeat, tipping in a miss from David West in the lane.
"You never want to blow a lead like that," Chandler said. "I was just thinking if it comes off, make sure you get the rebound. I had the opportunity to get a hand on it and get a big tip."
Luke Ridnour's 30-foot desperation, off-balance heave at the buzzer was nowhere close for the Bucks, who were out of timeouts and had to race the ball up the court after Chandler's basket.
"It was an unbelievable comeback for us," Ridnour said. "In the NBA, you just never know. To fight back like that and then Tyson Chandler made a heck of a play at the end of the game, it hurts."
Chris Paul had a season-high 20 assists, and West scored 28 points to lead the Hornets, who won their third straight.
Richard Jefferson had a team-high 22 points, and Bell added 21 for the Bucks, who lost their second in a row but made the Hornets sweat after trailing by double digits for almost the entire second half. Milwaukee had its second-worst shooting performance of the year through the first three quarters.
"I won't even talk about the first 30 minutes because right now the taste in my mouth is the last seven or eight," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "My first words were my initials, and that's not good. We were looking at the scoreboard and hoping it would just run out."
Ridnour started the Bucks' flurry with a seemingly meaningless 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 89-75. Damon Jones hit another 3-pointer the next time down the court before Keith Bogans connected from long range, and Bell sank two more 3s to make it 93-89 with 1:12 left.
After Dan Gadzuric scored on a putback, Jefferson penetrated the lane and kicked out to Bell for his go-ahead 3, setting up Chandler's game-saver.
"The thing that has been bothering us the last two or three weeks is our rebounding," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "The last play of the game, we just looked at it, they kind of shoved us right under the basket and were able to tip the ball in."
The Hornets were in control through three quarters. Paul, who finished one shy of his career best of 21 assists, tied his season high of 17 with a behind-the-back pass to Sean Marks for a dunk with 2:23 left in the third quarter. Paul added two more assists before the start of the fourth, finding Peja Stojakovic for a 3-pointer and feeding Rasual Butler for a dunk on consecutive possessions to give the Hornets a 75-57 lead.
Everything almost fell apart at the end of the fourth.
"A win is a win, but we know better," Paul said. "We've got to learn to close out games."
New Orleans took control in the first quarter when West shot 6-for-7 and Paul had nine assists.
West, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter of the Hornets' win over Detroit on Wednesday, picked up where he left off. Paul capped the fast start with back-to-back passes to Marks for easy dunks in the final minute as the Hornets went ahead 29-18.
Nothing came easily for the Bucks. They made only eight of 27 shots in the first quarter, were 1-for-8 from 3-point range and threw up three air balls. Charlie Villanueva, who scored 87 points in the last three games, had four points early but was scoreless for the last 9:20 of the quarter and finished with 13 points.
Things didn't get much better for the Bucks through the next two quarters. They trailed 50-35 at the half and had made only 22 of 65 shots (33.8 percent) entering the fourth.
Notes: Paul scored nine points, failing to reach double figures for the first time this season. ... This was the first meeting between the Hornets and Bucks this season. Both teams had played everyone else at least once. ... The Hornets had their 13th sellout, matching their total for the entire 2007-08 season. ... The Hornets have won six in a row against the Bucks.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)