San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili ,(20), of Argentina goes for a shot between New Orleans Hornets forward Sean Marks, left, and forward David West, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 29, 2009, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brian Lawdermilk)
Chris Paul scored 26 points, hitting three clutch free throws with 7.1 seconds left, and the depleted New Orleans Hornets pulled out a 90-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
David West had 23 points, going 11-of-11 on free throws, and grabbed 16 rebounds. The Hornets were 32-of-33 from the foul line overall, making their last 31, to compensate for 37.5 percent shooting.
New Orleans Hornets center Hilton Armstrong (12) tries to block a shot by San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9), of France, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 29, 2009, in New Orleans. .(AP Photo/Brian Lawdermilk)
Tony Parker had 20 points for San Antonio. Tim Duncan had 19 points and 15 rebounds and Manu Ginobili added 17 points.
New Orleans appeared to have the game wrapped up when Rasual Butler's free throws gave the Hornets an 87-80 lead with 29.6 seconds to go. Then Ginobili hit a quick 3, Butler turned the ball over trying to catch an inbound pass, and Michael Finley hit another 3 to pull the Spurs to 87-86 with 17.8 seconds to go.
Paul was the difference in the end, taking an inbound pass in the back court, splitting Finley and Parker on the dribble, then alertly heaving up a shot from well behind the 3-point line as he was fouled by Ginobili.
The Spurs argued vehemently that Paul was fouled before the shot. The officials gathered to discuss it, but ultimately put Paul on the line. Paul didn't miss, and San Antonio was left with too little time to answer again.