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 Hornets defeat Suns, 104-91

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PostSubject: Hornets defeat Suns, 104-91   Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:51 pm

NEW ORLEANS(AP) Peja Stojakovic fell backward onto the court, his legs splayed as his feet swung upward almost comically.The
quick fadeaway he'd just released swished through, the referee whistled
the Suns for a defensive foul and the New Orleans Arena crowd roared.It
was the kind of flair for the dramatic the Hornets needed during a
second-half surge that powered them to a 104-91 victory over the
depleted but feisty Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night."I don't
even know if the guy touched him, but we'll take it,'' Chris Paul said
of the shooting foul that allowed Stojakovic to add a three-point play
the hard way to the five other 3s he nailed from the perimeter. "When
he's shooting like that, we're almost unstoppable.''Stojakovic
finished with 24 points, his sharp shooting opening the floor for the
rest of his teammates, who took full advantage. Paul also scored 24
points to go with 15 assists for his 13th double-double of the young
season. David West added 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Tyson Chandler
narrowly missed a double-double of his own with 14 points and nine
rebounds."We're capable of that every night. We've just got to
defend and run,'' said Paul, who also had three steals. "We're not a
half-court team. We're at our best when we're getting steals, getting
out in transition and getting easy buckets.''Amare Stoudemire
led Phoenix with 26 points, while Leandro Barbosa added 19 and Grant
Hill 17. However, the Suns were unable to keep pace with guard Steve
Nash sidelined because of an illness. Shaquille O'Neal also sat out for
Phoenix, hoping to be fresh when the Suns play Thursday night at Dallas.Phoenix
trailed only 51-50 at halftime and took a 63-60 lead midway through the
third quarter after Stoudemire's fast-break dunk. That lead didn't last
long as Paul found Chandler for a dunk, igniting an 11-1 run that
included two 3s by Stojakovic and another by Devin Brown.Raja
Bell briefly interrupted the surge with a 3 from the corner, but
Stojakovic responded with his crowd-pleasing fadeaway, sparking an 11-2
run that gave New Orleans an 82-69 lead heading into the fourth quarter."We
kind of lost control there in the third,'' Hill said. "They're a good
team. We struggle with them when we're at full strength. No excuses.
They came out and did what they had to do.''Matt Barnes' third
3-pointer of the game capped a 7-0 run that pulled Phoenix to 87-76
early in the fourth quarter. Later, Hill's driving floater as he was
fouled by James Posey pulled the Suns within 91-82 with 5:17 to go.That
was about as close as the Suns would get. Chandler slipped in behind
Paul's missed driving layup for a dunk, then Stojakovic's fifth 3 of
the game put the Hornets up 96-84, which proved to be plenty of a
cushion for the Hornets with 3:01 to go.The Suns missed O'Neal's
inside presence, as the Hornets outrebounded Phoenix 46-30. New Orleans
grabbed a season-high 17 offensive rebounds, including six by Chandler,
and the Hornets wound up with 28 second-chance points."The first
thing when you look at the stat sheet is the offensive rebounds and
points off offensive rebounds,'' Hill said. "That made it more
difficult, giving them more possessions.''The Hornets also
opened things up for perimeter shooters by going hard to the hoop and
getting to the foul line. New Orleans shot 35 free throws, hitting 30."We
are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the league, but we
don't utilize it enough because we don't get to the rim enough,''
Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "The guys made a conscious effort
tonight to put their heads down a little bit more and get to the
basket, which got us to the free throw line, and we were able to
capitalize on that.''Notes: Paul has a steal in 100 straight
games, the longest active streak in the NBA. ... The Hornets' scored 35
points in the opening period, which marked a team season high for
scoring in a quarter. ... Barnes finished with 13 points. ... The Suns
are 7-3 on the road. ... Phoenix has lost six straight to the Hornets
dating to last season, the Suns' longest active losing streak against
any team. ... The Hornets are 8-0 when scoring 100 or more points and
10-1 when leading after three quarters.

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