HOUSTON -- Chris Paul scored 25 points, Marco Belinelli added 18 and the New Orleans Hornets beat the winless Houston Rockets 107-99 on Wednesday night to remain unbeaten.
The Hornets have won all four games this season to match the best start in franchise history. Houston dropped to 0-4.
The game was tied in the fourth quarter before New Orleans scored four quick points to take a 95-91 lead. Kevin Martin made a 3-pointer to get Houston within one, but Paul and David West made consecutive baskets to stretch the lead to 99-94 with 39 seconds left.
Kevin Martin was called for an offensive foul, and the Rockets didn't like the call. Aaron Brooks was given a double technical and ejected. Paul made both free throws to put the game out of reach.
Martin and Brooks scored 18 points apiece for Houston. Yao Ming added 15 in just under 21 1/2 minutes.
Houston was down by four before scoring five straight points, including a 3-pointer by Brooks that gave the Rockets an 89-88 lead with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
New Orleans regained the lead when Jordan Hill's block of a shot by Marcus Thornton fell right into the hands of Jason Smith, who knocked down a jump shot. He made two more field goals sandwiched around a basket by Brooks to push the Hornets' lead to 83-80 with about 7 minutes remaining.
The Hornets scored four of the first six points of the fourth quarter to push their lead to four before Chase Budinger hit two consecutive baskets, capped by a 3-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet, to put Houston on top 78-77.
New Orleans trailed by two late in the third quarter, but Belinelli hit a 3-pointer to put the Hornets back ahead. Smith followed with a pair of free throws before Courtney Lee got the Rockets within 72-71 with a jump shot.
D.J. Mbenga hit the first of two free throws after a foul by Kyle Lowry to leave New Orleans ahead 73-71 entering the final quarter.
The Rockets led by six at halftime and pushed their advantage to 54-45 on a 3-pointer by Brooks early in the third. The Hornets responded with a 13-5 run highlighted by five points from Belinelli and capped by a three-point play by Trevor Ariza that gave them a 59-58 lead with 7 minutes left in the quarter.
The game was tied at 28 after the first quarter and was even again at 32 with about 8 minutes left in the first half before the Rockets went on a 7-2 run to take a 39-34 lead about 2 minutes later.
Martin's perfect run at the free throw line to start the season ended when he missed his fifth attempt of the game, ending his streak at 38.
NOTES: With no room left on the New Orleans bench, Paul was escorted to an area closer to fans to sit during his break in the fourth quarter. A couple of fans began to heckle him and take cell phone pictures of the star guard, who yelled back at the unruly fans. ... New Orleans' 43 first-half points were a season low for a Houston opponent.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)