Hornets Make It Six Straight, Beat Red-Hot Blazers

Posted: January 25, 2008 in Hornets

The Hornets won their sixth straight game on Wednesday night, the first time they’ve done that in five years, when they overcame the re-hot Portland Trail Blazers 96-81. The Hornets had to overcome another slow start as they fell behind with poor shooting at one point 25-13, but as they have proven so many times in the past, they are strong in the first half of the 3rd and in the last half of the 4th to close out their games. The 25-16 Blazers were leading their division before the game. With the Denver Nuggets winning, Portland is now a half game behind Denver for first place in the Northwest.

Meanwhile the Hornets are 29-12 and currently tied overall with Phoenix and hold down the top spot in the Western Conference by virtue of their 20-8 conference record.

Side note: Boston is 4.5 games ahead of the Hornets

Scoring: *Jannero Pargo- 24 (seen above), David West- 22, Chris Paul-18, Peja Stojakovic-12, Tyson Chandler-9, Morris Peterson-1.

*- Bench Player

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 23 (AP) — Unheralded reserve Jannero Pargo was ready to be the Hornets’ unlikely leader when the starters stumbled against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Pargo scored a season-high 24 points in 24 minutes, and New Orleans extended its season-best winning streak to six games with a 96-81 victory on Wednesday night.

“I knew it was a big game and just watching the first quarter, we were kind of hesitant,” Pargo said. “I wanted to come in and kind of pick it up on both ends of the floor, which I was able to do, and it kind of got us going in the second quarter.”

Pargo’s 10-of-18 shooting, five assists and energy coming off the bench helped the Hornets overcome an early 12-point deficit and surge into the lead for good in the second quarter.

David West scored 22 for the Hornets (29-12), who have won 14 of 16 games and lead the Southwest Division after their best first half of a season in franchise history.

Chris Paul had 18 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, while Tyson Chandler had nine points and 14 rebounds. Peja Stojakovic added 12 points.

LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 17 points, while Steve Blake hit four 3-pointers and finished with 15. Brandon Roy and Travis Outlaw each had 14 for Portland (25-17), which wound up 3-4 on its seven-game road trip.

New Orleans began to pull away when Stojakovic, who didn’t score in the first half, hit a mid-range jumper and a 3-pointer to open the third quarter.

Chandler’s tip-in of Paul’s missed jumper and West’s driving layup through a crowd fueled a 7-0 run, capped by Paul’s free throws, that gave New Orleans a 67-55 lead.

Portland made one last run in the fourth quarter, starting with Roy’s fast-break dunk as he was fouled. Aldridge’s jumper and inside basket capped a 9-2 spurt that pulled the Blazers to 77-72 with 5:30 to go.

Then Paul turned the tide for good with a jumper in the lane, and Pargo followed with another perimeter basket. Two possessions later, Paul turned a steal into a fast-break layup for Pargo, then Paul all but sealed it when he pulled up on a drive and lofted a 9-foot fade off the glass to make it 87-74 with under 3 minutes remaining.

“This win gives us credibility,” Pargo said. “Some people thought we were winning because we’re playing a lot of teams under .500, but Portland is a good team and they have been playing well all year long.”

“Defensively, they did a great job taking the ball out of my hands,” Roy said. “There were a lot of situations where they forced someone else to make a play. It was frustrating at times. I think we got tired a little bit. We settled for a lot of jump shots and they were just a more physical team tonight.”

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