Suns Burn Hornets With Assist From Refs
New Orleans nearly completed a furious comeback in the final 20 seconds, but goaltending on Grant Hill was missed by the officials. Had the correct call been made, the game would've been tied at 104 with 4 seconds left. Phoenix hung on to win 104-102. ESPN.com and the AP has more.
Chris Paul led New Orleans with 26 points. The Hornets were coming off a loss Saturday night in Sacramento that snapped their winning streak at 10.
Paul made a 3-pointer with 17.2 seconds left to cut it to 104-99, Trevor Ariza then stole Hill's errant pass and Paul made three free throws with 12 seconds left after he was fouled by Channing Frye.
The Hornets got the ball back with 10 seconds left when Steve Nash stepped out of bounds trying to control Hill's wild inbounds pass.
New Orleans wanted a goaltending call on Thornton's late try.
"I guess it's a hard call when the ball hits the backboard and then gets blocked," Paul said. "We made it too hard on the guys who had to make a tough call at the end."
Hornets coach Monty Williams agreed.
"When I came back and looked at the film, the film doesn't lie and it was obvious that it was goaltending," he said.
Certainly this one will be tough to swallow for the Hornets. Losing two in a row with the Thunder and Lakers on the schedule in the upcoming week is too precious in the top heavy Western Conference. It's particularly difficult when the opposition gets an assist from the refs. Lost in the frantic comeback attempt is that Hornet big man Emeka Okafor left with an apparent hip injury in the second quarter. New Orleans is a team lacking size to begin with. After losing their starting center, Sun big man Marcin Gortat had a field day with a career best 25 points and 11 rebounds. Okafor appeared to injure himself without any contact, and said, "I heard something pop." If Okafor has to miss a significant amount of time, the Hornets could lose ground in the West.