NBA: Hornets 88, Bobcats 81
CHARLOTTE ó The up-and-down New Orleans Hornets are up again. Not even arriving in town at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday could slow them down.
A silly play by Charlotte’s Tyrus Thomas sure helped, too.
David West had 26 points and eight rebounds and the weary Hornets took advantage of Thomas’ inexplicable vicious elbow and ensuing ejection late to break open a close game and beat the Bobcats 88-81 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.
Chris Paul added 19 points in a return to his home state for the Hornets, who after playing their second straight overtime game Friday night didn’t arrive at their Charlotte hotel until dawn following travel problems.
It was just another obstacle to overcome in their odd season. After starting 11-1, they went 7-13 only to now be riding another impressive winning streak.
“Just like a game has runs, same thing with the seasons,” center Emeka Okafor said.
In a game in which neither team had led by more than six points, an ill-timed elbow to Okafor’s head changed everything.
When Thomas grabbed Willie Green’s missed shot, the Bobcats had the ball trailing 81-77 with 2:38 left. But before getting rid of the ball under the basket, Thomas violently swung his elbow and it landed square in Okafor’s face.
Okafor crumpled to the floor and the officials huddled before ejecting Thomas. A replay review confirmed the call.
“It’s just part of basketball. He didn’t mean to do it on purpose,” Okafor said.