WESTWEGO, La. (AP) -Jannero Pargo was the last player left on the court Wednesday, as he often is after most of his Hornets teammates have cleared out of their suburban training center.
``The way to make shots, you have to get confidence. And the way you get confidence is when you're in the gym by yourself,'' Pargo said. ``You see that ball just constantly going through the hoop. It's repetition and it gives you a sense of knowing you can make shots. It just becomes repetitive, and when you're out there during the game, you just feel like sometimes you're in the gym by yourself.''
It's a feeling that's come over Pargo at crucial junctures lately, such as when he drained a bailout 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer early in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
That shot sparked an 11-1 run that gave the Hornets a 17-point lead with seven minutes left in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, a cushion that proved critical when the Mavs' comeback attempt came up a little short in a 99-94 New Orleans triumph.
For all the attention given to Hornets All-Stars Chris Paul and David West, the clear leaders of a club on the rise, coach Byron Scott wondered allowed if his team would have disposed of Dallas in only five games if not for Pargo's punch coming off the bench.
The 6-foot-1 guard, now in his sixth year in the NBA and second season with the Hornets, scored 17 points in Tuesday night's series clincher and could play a key role when New Orleans faces San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals.
``JP is one of those guys ... he has no fear, he really doesn't,'' Scott said. ``He doesn't mind taking big shots. You don't see that in a lot of guys who come off the bench. They want to come off the bench and play, but that last five or six minutes, they don't want to take big shots. He kind of thrives on that. He's definitely the unsung hero of the last series.''
Coming in to give Paul a rest or sometimes playing with Paul when Scott wanted a smaller, quicker lineup, Pargo was New Orleans' fourth-leading scorer throughout the series against Dallas, averaging 14.6 points. Only Paul, West and Peja Stojakovic - all starters - averaged more.
Pargo grew up in Chicago and played at Arkansas before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers, one of two teams that waived him early in his pro career, the other being the Toronto Raptors.
The first time he appeared in more than 34 games in a season was two years ago, when he got into 57 games with the Chicago Bulls. Last season, he joined the Hornets as a free agent and played in every game for the first time in his career, averaging 9.2 points.
His re-signing with the Hornets last summer didn't get a lot of attention at the time, but in hindsight has proved to be a key offseason move.
``He's a find,'' Scott said. ``He had other opportunities to go to other places last season. He loves the situation he has here. He loves the players he's surrounded by.''
His scrappy, aggressive style is making him a fan favorite.
The New Orleans Arena crowd roared in approval when he broke a backcourt trap with a behind-the-back dribble while sprinting at full-speed during Game 5. More cheers rained down for his array of driving reverse layups through traffic and dead-on transition jumpers.
``He's a player who has a unique ability to impact the game,'' Hornets general manager Jeff Bower said. ``He comes off the bench ... providing points in a flurry and providing energy.''
Because Pargo never shies away from a tough shot, an off-night can mean a bunch of missed shots, never pretty to watch. More often, it's opposing teams who don't like what they see, especially after playing shutdown defense on the Hornets' stars, only to see Pargo bury a tough jumper with the shot clock winding down.
``He's had a few of those - possessions where they're taking Chris and myself away, we can't get Tyson (Chandler), and he's got the confidence to make the play we need,'' West said. ``Jannero's come in and he's been really steady, really solid.''

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