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West Lifts Hornets To 3-2 Lead
Wednesday, 14-May-2008 1:20AM AP / BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- David West and the New Orleans Hornets sure looked happy to be at home.


West had career playoff highs of 38 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots, lifting New Orleans to a 101-79 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night and a 3-2 series lead.

New Orleans looked impressive in winning the first two games at home but stumbled in San Antonio. Back in the Big Easy, the Hornets cruised again.

"We've proved all season long we're one of the better teams in the NBA", Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We had every reason after Games 3 and 4 to fold, but again, being with these guys, they've showed this type of resilience all season, so I'm not surprised."

Chris Paul had 16 of his 22 points in the second half and added 14 assists for New Orleans, which has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 20 points and Tony Parker had 18. The Hornets held Tim Duncan to 10 points, though Duncan was a force on the glass with 23 rebounds.

"They did a great job of crowding the paint and also getting back to our shooters", Duncan said. "They were very physical on the post. I didn't shoot the ball very well and those opportunities kind of turned into them running it back at us."

Game 6 is Thursday night in San Antonio, where the Spurs are 5-0 in the postseason.

Guarded mostly by Tyson Chandler, Duncan was 5-of-18 shooting, but Chandler left the game early in the fourth quarter with a bruised left foot. Meanwhile, a trainer put an ice pack on West's back after he left the game in the final minutes as the Hornets All-Star forward grimaced in pain.

Scott said both were in obvious pain, but he did not expect either of them to miss the next game.

Morris Peterson had 12 points for New Orleans on four 3-pointers, picking up the slack for Peja Stojakovic, who was guarded closely again.

Stojakovic still managed a crucial transition 3 in the fourth quarter, however, giving the Hornets an 81-68 lead with 7:05 to go.

San Antonio pulled to 85-77 on Ime Udoka's third 3-pointer, but Paul responded with a driving layup with 4:33 left and scored again on a pass from West to turn back the Spurs' rally.

Paul, who had six points in the first half, scored nine points and set up Chandler for an alley-oop dunk during a 20-4 Hornets run to open the third quarter. Peterson's 3 capped the surge, giving New Orleans a 64-51 lead.

While Stojakovic managed only nine points, he recognized who had the hot hand. His pass to the corner set up Peterson's fourth 3, which put the Hornets ahead 68-54. Paul then added two free throws, giving him 12 for the quarter, and West scored his 30th point of the game on a jumper over Parker, giving the Hornets a 72-58 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Duncan was held scoreless until early the second quarter, but the Spurs hit their first four 3s and six of their first eight. Ginobili's second 3 put San Antonio up 37-30.

West, who had 22 in the opening half, got New Orleans as close as 38-36 on a jumper late in the second quarter, then tied it at 43 when he put back a blocked fast-break layup.

The Spurs took a 47-44 lead into halftime after Parker got up from a hard foul and sank two free throws in the final seconds.

Notes:@ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was called for a technical between the first and second quarters while arguing with referee Joe Crawford about an earlier delay of game call. ... Robert Horry's appearance for San Antonio gave him 238 in the playoffs, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in NBA history. ... New Orleans' Melvin Ely and Fabricio Oberto of the Spurs were called for double fouls and double technicals after a collision under the San Antonio basket in the first quarter. ... Saints quarterback Drew Brees, among the local celebrities at the game, signed a football brought to him by a Hornets mascot and threw it to a fan in the upper deck of the arena.

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