A jubilant crowd broke into repeated chants of "M-V-P" in recognition of a masterful performance by the Hornets guard, who is the team's best shot at making the All-Star Game in New Orleans next month as a reserve.
Even in a game featuring recently elected All-Star starter Allen Iverson, Paul was the best player on the floor. Iverson also scored 23, but he had only three assists and got little help other than from Kenyon Martin, who scored 18.
The game also featured two centers vying for a reserve spot in the All-Star game: Denver's Marcus Camby and New Orleans' Tyson Chandler.
Last night, there was no comparison. Chandler finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Camby was a non-factor for most of the first three quarters.
Jazz 97, Spurs 91 -- Deron Williams had 11 points and 14 assists and host Utah won its fifth straight game, beating San Antonio. Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko scored 23 points each for the Jazz, which controlled the team that dominated it in the Western Conference finals last season.
Mavericks 103, Grizzlies 84 -- Josh Howard hit his first eight shots on the way to 26 points, and Dallas shot 54 percent in a victory in Memphis. Howard ended the night 10-for-17, and Dallas won its fourth straight. It also was the Mavericks' 13th straight win over the Grizzlies.