Paul helps Posey lift Hornets
Chris Paul had an overflow crowd on its feet before he'd even removed his warm-ups, showing off his Olympic gold medal during the pregame ceremonies for the New Orleans Hornets' home opener.
Now Paul seeks to add an NBA championship to his basketball résumé and has to feel good about his chances with the help he's getting from new teammate and former Celtic James Posey.
Paul had 24 points and 15 assists, and New Orleans remained perfect on the young season with a 104-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. David West added 25 points for New Orleans (3-0) and Posey scored 15 to go with his trademark clutch late-game defense and perimeter shooting.
Posey stole the ball from LeBron James and drove in for a breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter, then hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down to put the Hornets up, 96-85, inside the final three minutes.
"Posey is making it tough on himself now because every time he misses, he's going to hear from me," Paul said as Posey changed clothes within earshot a couple of lockers away. "He's going to hear from me because I'm expecting him to make it every time now."
The Hornets hope Posey, who helped Miami and the Celtics each win a title in the past three years, can do the same in New Orleans.
Having entered the season averaging 9.2 points in his career, he scored 11 in the Hornets' opening win at Golden State Wednesday, then added 13 points in a victory at Phoenix the next night before increasing his output against Cleveland.
"We have very unselfish guys," Posey said. "You have Chris making plays for himself and everybody else. You move the ball and you get wide-open shots."
Lakers 104, Nuggets 97 - Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and visiting Los Angeles nearly became the first team in three years to hold Carmelo Anthony to single digits.
Coming off a two-game suspension (for a DUI arrest in April), Anthony scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. He made two 3-pointers with less than a minute left.
Anthony was held to a single bucket until sinking consecutive baskets to help the Nuggets cut the deficit to 93-91 with four minutes left. He fired up an airball from beyond the arc on Denver's next possession, and Bryant responded with a basket at the other end.
Jazz 101, Clippers 79 - Carlos Boozer had 25 points and 10 rebounds and host Utah pulled away with a 30-4 run in the second half to beat shorthanded Los Angeles.
The Clippers were without point guard Baron Davis (hip) and center Marcus Camby (heel). Utah coach Jerry Sloan stayed home with flu-like symptoms and was replaced by longtime assistant Phil Johnson.
Bulls 96, Grizzlies 86 - Rookie Derrick Rose had his best game, scoring 26 points, and Kirk Hinrich added 18 to lead host Chicago past Memphis. The Bulls trailed the Grizzlies by 8 at halftime but pulled it out thanks to Rose.
Hawks 95, 76ers 88 - Joe Johnson scored 35 points, including a long 3-pointer that clinched it with 11 seconds remaining, and host Atlanta battled back from a 23-point deficit to stun Philadelphia.
Magic 121, Kings 103 - Dwight Howard had 29 points and 14 rebounds, and host Orlando beat Sacramento for the Magic's first victory of the season.
Pistons 117, Wizards 109 - Richard Hamilton scored 24 points and Rasheed Wallace added 17 points and 11 rebounds to power host Detroit past Washington.
Raptors 91, Bucks 87 - Jose Calderon scored a career-high 25 points, including a huge 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, and visiting Toronto won its third straight.
Warriors 105, Nets 97 - Andris Biedrins had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Stephen Jackson scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half as Golden State spoiled New Jersey's home opener.
Mavericks 95, Timberwolves 85 - Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points, Jason Terry added 19, and visiting Dallas picked up its first victory of the season.
Suns 107, Trail Blazers 96 - Amare Stoudemire scored 16 of his 23 points in the decisive third quarter and Terry Porter got his first home victory as Phoenix's coach.
Bobcats 100, Heat 87 - Gerald Wallace scored 34 points and hot-shooting Charlotte beat visiting Miami, giving coach Larry Brown his first victory in his ninth NBA head coaching job. It was Brown's 1,011th career win.
Rockets 89, Thunder 77 - Tracy McGrady had 22 points, Yao Ming added 16, and host Houston won its third straight.