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Wizards lose overseas exhibition

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chris Paul showed no signs of fatigue as he set the tone for the New Orleans Hornets in a 96-80 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday in a preseason exhibition game in Berlin.

"I feel like I need to hold up my end of the deal, and that's to continue to get better and take as good care of my body as possible," the All-Star point guard said.

Paul had eight assists and scored four points to help the Hornets jump out to an 18-0 lead. He played the entire first and third quarters and sat out the other two, finishing with 11 assists and nine points.

Hornets coach Byron Scott said he was trying to keep Paul fresh after a long summer in which Paul helped the U.S. Olympic team win gold in Beijing.

"He is a competitor, but also I understand how long the season is," said Scott. "I have to make sure he gets as much rest as possible."

It was the first of two games between the Hornets and Wizards in the NBA's annual preseason tour of Europe. They will meet again on Friday in Barcelona.

The injury-plagued Wizards did not score until 5 minutes into the game when Darius Songalia scored off an offensive rebound.

The Hornets built on their lead in the second quarter, relying largely on their reserves.

Hornets reserve forward Rasual Butler scored 12 points.

James Posey hit a 3-pointer as the Hornets closed the first half with a 9-0 run to take a 61-24 lead into the break.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan credited the Hornets' tough defense with frustrating his squad early in the game.

"We missed some shots, and they forced us to miss some," Jordan said.

Jordan said the lopsided score and sloppy play in the first half showed in the reaction of the sold-out crowd at the new O2 World Arena.

"I don't know if the whistles and jeers were because we were missing shots – I thought it was because we were missing shots, and we didn't show up," he said.

For the Wizards, the European tour is a chance to test their rookies and learn to work with a short bench. Three key Wizards players remained in Washington to nurse injuries.

"We need to use this time to give experience to some of our young players," said Jordan.

Washington outscored the Hornets 22-15 in the third quarter, led by guard DeShawn Stevenson's three 3-pointers. Stevenson hit five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points.

"The second half gave us some confidence that if we play that way it'll be a better game in Barcelona," Johnson said.

The sold-out crowd of 14,000 included Detlef Schrempf, a German native and three-time NBA All-Star who retired from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2001.