Red-hot Hornets swat Blazers
NEW ORLEANS — Thanks to dramatically improved defense, the unbeaten New Orleans Hornets are a totally different team from last season. So are the Portland Trail Blazers, with All-Star guard Brandon Roy rendered ineffective by a chronically sore left knee.
David West and Marco Belinelli each scored 18 points Saturday night and the Hornets improved to 8-0, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 107-87.
The Hornets have held all of their opponents this season under 100 points. This was the third straight time New Orleans allowed fewer than 90 points.
New coach Monty Williams, a Portland assistant the previous five years, has done an immediate makeover of what was one of the NBA's worst defensive teams last season.
"Defense is where we want to make our staple," West said. "We are really drilling and really working and doing what we have to do in terms of preparation. We've been able to execute the game plan defensively from start to finish."
Chris Paul added 11 points and 13 assists for the Hornets. Center Emeka Okafor had a double-double before the end of the third quarter, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Jazz 96, Bobcats 95
At Charlotte, N.C., Deron Williams hit a running hook shot with 0.8 seconds left to cap a fourth-quarter rally and Utah beat Charlotte.
Williams finished with 17 points and nine assists for the Jazz, who overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to win their fifth straight game and fourth on the road.
Heat 109, Raptors 90
At Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 31 points, LeBron James added 23 points and 11 assists and the Miami Heat snapped a two-game slide with a win over the Raptors in Chris Bosh's first game against his former club.
Bucks 79, Warriors 72
At Milwaukee, John Salmons scored a season-high 26 points, including a basket with 50.8 seconds left to lead the Bucks to a win over the Warriors.
Brandon Jennings added 19 points and Drew Gooden scored 16 as Milwaukee reached .500 for the first time this season.
Bulls 103, Wizards 96
At Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half, outplaying John Wall and leading the Bulls to a victory over the weary Wizards.
Joakim Noah had 21 points and nine rebounds for Chicago, which earned its third consecutive victory in its last home game until Dec. 1. The Bulls open a seven-game road trip Tuesday at Houston, clearing out of the United Center so the circus can come to town.
Pacers 99, Cavaliers 85
At Cleveland, Danny Granger scored 34 points and the Pacers pulled away in the second half to defeat the short-handed Cavaliers.
Cleveland lost its fourth straight home game for the first time since March 2003. The Cavaliers were minus starters Mo Williams (strained left groin) and Anderson Varejao (bruised ribs).
Magic 91, Nets 90
At Newark, N.J., Jameer Nelson made the go-ahead basket with 4.1 seconds left, and the Magic avoided a third straight loss by beating the Nets.
Nelson redeemed himself after missing two free throws with 19 seconds to go and Orlando up one. Brook Lopez then made two foul shots to give New Jersey the lead with 11.5 seconds remaining, but Nelson sped down court and tossed in a floater while falling to his left.
Celtics 116, Grizzlies 110
At Memphis, Tenn., Ray Allen hit a key 3-point shot in overtime and Paul Pierce scored 28 points as the Celtics held off a furious rally by the Grizzlies.
Rudy Gay's short pull-up jump shot for Memphis with 7.3 seconds left in regulation tied it at 99.
Spurs 116, 76ers 93
At San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 24 points and capped a big surge in the first quarter that sent the Spurs past the 76ers for their sixth win in a row.