ORLANDO, Fla. -- In the weeks since New Orleans finished a season-best 10-game winning streak last month, closing out games had become a burden for the slumping Hornets.
They excelled down the stretch Friday night, though, rallying for a much-needed 99-93 road win over the Orlando Magic.
The Magic are 5-6 since their last three-game winning streak last month.
"This was very needed," Paul said. "After four losses in a row sometimes you forget what it's like to win. When we came out of that last timeout midway through the fourth quarter, I told the fellas: 'Let's win it. We've had enough close ones. Let's take this game.' And we did that."
The Magic erased a nine-point halftime deficit, but came up short down the stretch thanks to a slew of late turnovers. They had 16 for the game and six in the fourth quarter alone.
After playing some spotty defense in the first half, Orlando's offense came alive in the third quarter to tie it at 80 entering the fourth.
The Magic continued their momentum to start the final 12 minutes, using a 6-2 spurt, capped by a dunk by Howard to jump out to an 86-82 lead with 9:21 to play.
David Andersen and Hornets coach Monty Williams were both called for technicals at the 8:38 mark for arguing a foul call on Andersen as he battled Clark for a rebound. The Magic led 89-84 following a pair of free throws by Redick and one by Clark before the Hornets reeled off seven straight points to take a 91-89 lead with 6:51 left.
That lead remained one basket, 93-91, on a jumper by West and grew to 95-91 on a jumper by Green with 1:56 to play. Ryan Anderson misfired on a 3-pointer and the rebound was fumbled out of bounds. An official review of the play during a timeout gave the Magic the ball with 31.1 seconds to go, and Redick scored on a driving layup to make it 95-93.
West hit one of two free throws and the Magic called a timeout. But Turkoglu threw away the inbounds pass with 22.7 seconds to play to hand it back over to New Orleans. Paul was fouled and hit a pair of free throws, the Magic missed on their next trip and Paul hit two more from the line to provide the final margin.
The Magic scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter and only four after the Hornets' pair of technicals. Howard was also held to just four second-half points.
"It's just something we've been doing for a while now that's catching up with us," said Magic guard Gilbert Arenas, who had 10 points in 12 minutes. "The second quarter we're always starting out slow and then we try to pick it up in the second half. In the last 5 minutes we just couldn't turn it around. We got the stops we needed, we just couldn't score."
New Orleans took a 61-52 lead into halftime, posting its second-highest point total in a first half this season.
Jack and Green both had 13 points to lead the Hornets, followed by Paul with 12.
Orlando tied it at 46 with less than 5 minutes to play in the second quarter on a dunk by Clark. But the Hornets closed the quarter on a 15-6 run, which included eight points by Jack.
"Right now if you just look at the results, bottom line is that we can't beat a good team," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We've lost eight straight to teams that are over .500 right now and we haven't been able to play at the level we need to play, to play teams like that. ... It's going to have to change."
Howard had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Magic and Redick scored 10 points off the bench. Howard struggled from the foul line, though, shooting only 4 of 10. New Orleans seemed to recognize his woes in the final 2 minutes of the half, fouling Howard three times before the Magic got into the offensive half court.
The Hornets led 28-24 after the opening 12 minutes, though they were thoroughly dominated underneath. The Magic scored 18 points in the paint during the period, compared to six for New Orleans.
"It's a big win," Green said. "I thought collectively as a team, we went out and battled for 48 minutes. We just wanted those guys to take tough shots, run them off the (3-point) line and fortunately for us we were able to get stops down the stretch. ... I think that was the difference in the game."
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