Paul narrowly missed his seventh triple-double this season with 31 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets defeated the Dallas Mavericks 102-92 on Sunday to earn a split in a key late-season home-and-home series.
Afterward, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said his club could do little to slow Paul.
“We tried everything. We were trapping him … pretty much the whole fourth quarter,” Carlisle said. “He just found ways to either draw fouls or get the ball to other people. That’s what great players do. He was great down the stretch.”
Paul had 20 of his points in the second half. For the game, he shot 11-of-15 from the field—making both 3-pointers he tried—and 7-of-7 from the foul line.
“Paul was setting everybody up and he was scoring, so that’s why he’s one of the best point guards in the league,” said Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, who had 29 points and 14 rebounds.
David West scored 31 points to help New Orleans (49-31) move a game ahead of Dallas for the sixth playoff seed in the Western Conference. Each team has two games left in the regular season.
“Obviously, you want to be seeded as high as possible, but it’s all about us playing well,” Paul said. “Whatever seed we get, I think we’ll be fine.”
Paul averaged 32 ppg 12 apg 8.5 rpg in the last 4 games.