Byron Scott had been stewing for more than a day over the Hornets' recent 0-2 road trip to Boston and New York when he finally snapped during shootaround as New Orleans prepared to host the Dallas Mavericks.
"We're not a team. We're just a collection of individual basketball players right now," Scott recalled telling his players Wednesday. "I'm pretty good at holding things in for a little while, but when I let 'em out, I kind of let 'em out. I kind of let it out this morning."
Perhaps later this season, the Hornets will look back on their coach's rant as a turning point.
Peja Stojakovic hit a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation and Chris Paul scored six of his 39 points in overtime, lifting the New Orleans Hornets to a 114-107 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday night, snapping Dallas' three-game winning streak.
David West scored 25 points, converting a crucial three-point play late in the fourth quarter and adding a couple key baskets early in overtime. Bobby Brown added 18 points for the Hornets, including a 3 and a breakaway dunk in the extra session. Emeka Okafor came through with 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for his fourth double-double in New Orleans' first five games.
"Coach challenged us before the game," Paul said. "Tonight we weathered the storm. ... We showed a lot of perseverance."
Jason Terry had 35 points and Erick Dampier had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Dallas, which had a 97-94 lead and the ball with 10 seconds to go, but could not hold on.
Terry missed a technical free throw and Jose Barea missed two more foul shots, setting up the dramatic 3 by Stojakovic, who'd been 0 for 5 from long range before that.
"It's a lost opportunity," Terry said. "We showed a lot of heart and a lot of determination. The key things we talk about all of the time and the little things ... free throws, getting out on shooters and fouling when we are up three. Those things are what championship teams do. Obviously, we're not there yet. We'll learn from this."
Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 points, but did not have one of his better games, going 4 for 15 from the floor and fouling out in the last 3 minutes.
It looked as though Dallas would not need him with Terry scoring 18 of his points in the fourth quarter. But Dallas started to fall apart when Terry missed one of two free throws with 13.1 seconds left and a chance to put Dallas up by four.
Still, the Mavs appeared to have the game in hand when Paul was called for a charge on Barea with 10 seconds to go and Hornets coach Byron Scott was called for a technical foul. Dallas needed to make only one free throw but got none.
"You play until it's over," West said. "We committed some fouls, stretched the game out as opposed to saying, 'They're up three or four,' and kind of letting them dribble the game out, we put the pressure on them to make free throws. That's part of the game."
Yet Paul was quick to note that the Hornets, despite their exceptional effort, were nonetheless fortunate not to have fallen to 1-4.
"Just because we win one game doesn't mean everything's solved," Paul said. "The funny thing is, if they make a couple of those free throws and we lose this game, all the questions are: What's still wrong?"
When overtime began, it appeared that the Mavericks, who'd beaten Utah the night before, were worn out.
West scored inside and on a baseline jumper, then Brown added his second 3 of the game, putting New Orleans up 106-99.
Terry's 3 made it 106-102 with 1:22 to go, but Paul came right back with a jumper from the top of the key with 59 seconds left and Dallas was unable to recover after that.
The Hornets led throughout the third quarter, going up 74-66 on Paul's lunging fastbreak layup.
Terry opened the fourth quarter with 10 quick points on three jumpers and a driving scoop as he was fouled during a 15-0 run, giving Dallas an 81-74 lead with about 10 minutes to go in the period.
Dampier's putback of Nowitzki's miss and his alley-oop dunk on Jason Kidd's lob put Dallas up 92-88.
West then fought for an offensive rebound and scored inside while being fouled, then Okafor hit a free throw to tie it, setting up the dramatic close to regulation.
NOTES: Paul was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers, making him 12 of 15 on the season. ... The Hornets are 2-0 at home. ... Dallas rookie Rodrigue Beaubois got his first NBA start for the injured Quinton Ross (bruised lower back) and scored the Mavericks' first nine points, but did not score again. ... Kidd had 10 assists. ... Seven of Dampier's rebounds came on the offensive end.