Chris Paul chose an opportune time for his first triple-double of the season.
Wearing a black wrap on his left hand and a small bandage over his right eye, Paul scored 14 of New Orleans’s 24 points in the fourth quarter.
The All-Star guard then capped his brilliant performance by running down the clock and setting up Jarrett Jack’s short jumper, which made it 90-86 with 9.3 seconds left.
Kobe Bryant had 17 points for the Lakers, but did not score in the first half and finished 5 of 18 shooting. He also came up lame late in the fourth quarter, favoring his left ankle after a collision with Willie Green.
Bryant’s last miss came on a 3-point attempt in the final seconds.
That forced Los Angeles to foul Jack, and while the Hornets walked up the court, Paul triumphantly cupped his hand around his ear to soak in the roar of approval from the packed and delirious New Orleans Arena.
Trevor Ariza scored 19 for New Orleans, while Carl Landry added 16 before fouling out in the final minute.
The Hornets’ victory ensured the series, which resumes with Game 5 in Los Angeles tomorrow night, would return to New Orleans for Game 6 Thursday.
Pau Gasol and Ron Artest each scored 16 for Los Angeles, with all of Artest’s points coming in the first half. Andrew Bynum added 11 points and Derek Fisher 10.
The Hornets never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 9 points, at 57-48, early in the third quarter when Marco Belinelli’s 3 capped a 20-3 spurt that had started in the second quarter.
The Hornets were narrowly able to hold on after the Lakers had cut it to 88-86 on Gasol’s inside basket and Lamar Odom’s free throws.
That’s when Paul set up Jack’s crucial score at the shot clock buzzer, and Jack added three more free throws for the final margin.
76ers 86, Heat 82 — Lou Williams hit the go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the arc over a lunging Dwyane Wade with 8.1 seconds left that lifted host Philadelphia, avoiding a sweep.
Williams’s 3 came 28 seconds after Jrue Holiday stunned Wade with a 3 that sliced the deficit to 1. It was part of a game-ending 10-0 run that sent nearly 20,000 fans into a frenzy — and the Sixers on a surprise trip back to Florida.
Wade’s tip-in with 1:35 left put the Heat up, 82-76.
Williams and Evan Turner each had 17 points for the Sixers. Andre Iguodala added 16 points, and Elton Brand 15 points and 11 boards. LeBron James had 31 points for Miami, and Wade had 22.
Chris Bosh scored 12 points and had two blocks late in the game that seemed to seal the win for the Heat.
Hawks 88, Magic 85 — Jamal Crawford scored 25 points and Joe Johnson hit four big free throws in the final 20 seconds after host Atlanta struggled most of the night at the line, leading the Hawks over Orlando for a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
The Hawks will try to wrap up the series tomorrow night in Orlando.
Atlanta made only 12 of 20 free throws, but Johnson came through when the Magic were forced to foul.
Orlando had a last chance to tie it, but Al Horford knocked the ball away from Hedo Turkoglu as he tried to get loose for a 3-pointer.