NEW ORLEANS – The play wasn’t even designed for Darren Collison, a heady rookie playing Chris Paul’s position while the All-Star point guard sits injured.
But with the game on the line, Collison stepped up and made a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
Almost five minutes later, Collison’s free throw gave the Hornets the final points they’d need to put away Milwaukee and Devin Brown's two late overtime free throws sealed it.
A tightly contested 3-point miss by Milwaukee’s Michael Redd at the buzzer gave New Orleans a 102-99 overtime win at the Arena, the Hornets’ 11th consecutive home overtime win.
“(Collison) was a back end on the option,” Head Coach Jeff Bower said. “They did a good job on our first two. In a scramble situation like that, a guy has to make plays. It’s a difficult play, a difficult scenario. But he really stepped up and came up big.”
Collison finished with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds to give New Orleans (7-9) its fourth win in five games.
David West finished the game with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets beat Milwaukee (8-5) despite shooting 36.6 percent from the floor, including 21.7 percent in the opening half. New Orleans, for the first time in more than two weeks, had to rely on starters as the bench couldn’t keep pace, getting outscored 62-26.
Milwaukee turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 26 New Orleans points, including two and four, respectively, in overtime.
“We didn’t play a very heady game tonight,” Milwaukee Head Coach Scott Skiles said. “We were careless with the ball. It was one of those nights when we just had trouble passing and catching with each other. We had our chances.”
After trailing for much of the game, including by three after Jennings hit two free throws with 11.8 seconds to play, the game changed.
Collison hit a game-tying 3-pointer out of an inbounds plays with 7.5 seconds left. Seconds later, he swatted the ball away from Jennings as the regulation buzzer went off, sending the game into extra time.
“We really didn’t have too much option on that one the way were playing,” Collison said. “That’s probably the only option we were left with. I asked David West if he wanted to go for a quick two and he said sure, if it’s quick. When I got the ball, I felt like time was running off the clock. I just shot the 3 and it went in.”
In overtime, West twice tied the game on layups and Darius Songaila’s tip in tied the game at 97.
Collison stole the ensuing inbounds pass from Jennings and made both free throws for a 99-97 lead. But Jennings sprinted the floor, making a game-tying layup with 27 seconds to play and it appeared the game would go to double overtime.
Then Collison bled the clock, driving into the lane with fewer than 10 ticks left on the clock. He was fouled by Jennings.
He made only the front end of the one-and-one, but Brown picked up the rebound and made both his free throws.
Redd then missed his game-tying chance and the Hornets escaped with the win.
“I give them (the players) all the credit in the world for battling when they don’t know it’s going to turn,” Bower said. “It was pretty ugly there. They hung in there. I give them credit.”