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“We kind of gave them a little bit of a matchup problem,” Smith said. “Starting two (big) guys that can dribble and shoot is a tough matchup for anybody.”

Washington briefly took the lead when JaVale McGee corralled Young’s alley-oop lob with one hand and jammed it as he was being fouled by Aaron Gray. Young later hit one of his four 3s to give him 11 points for the quarter and Washington a 26-22 lead.

Paul hit a technical free throw and a 3 during a four-point possession, then set up Ariza’s transition 3 at the first quarter horn to highlight a 9-0 run capped by Green’s driving floater early in the second quarter.

Soon after Smith returned in the second quarter, he scored inside as he was fouled, giving the third-year pro what was then a career-high 15 points in only 10 minutes of action.

Paul scored the Hornets’ last seven points of the half, closing with a floater as he was fouled by rookie John Wall to put New Orleans up 55-44.

Notes: Gray, who had been out with a left ankle sprain since Jan. 21, played 15 minutes backing up Smith, hitting his only two shots and grabbing eight rebounds. … The second-worst road start in NBA history belongs to the 1974-75 New Orleans Jazz, who opened 0-28 away from the Big Easy. … Rashard Lewis of the Wizards fouled out with 4:25 left.