- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Chris Paul scored 27 points and David West added 23 points, leading the New Orleans Hornets to a 99-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

The Hornets, who won their third in a row during a four-game home stretch, pulled within 1 1/2games of the Houston Rockets in the Southwest division. They trail the San Antonio Spurs, who lost to the Rockets earlier Sunday, by a game.

Stephen Jackson led Golden State with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kelenna Azubuike added 16 points after missing his first eight shots.

The Warriors, who shot a season-best 56.5 percent against Philadelphia on Friday, connected on only 13 of 43 attempts in the first half. The Hornets led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter and were ahead by double digits for the entire second half until Golden State briefly pulled within nine in the final two minutes.

Neither team led by more than two points until Paul sparked a 7-0 run in the final minute of the first quarter to put the Hornets ahead 27-20. In that sequence, Paul hit an outside shot, made a steal that led to a goaltending call and converted a 3-point play in transition.

The Warriors never put up much of a challenge the rest of the way. Their only road victory against a team with a current winning record came in New Orleans in January, but they did not come close to matching that effort.

The Hornets usually struggle when Paul and West go to the bench at the beginning of the second quarter. This time, they outscored the Warriors 9-2 to go ahead 38-22 before West returned. They extended the advantage to 46-26 while Paul rested for nearly 9 minutes.

By the time Paul returned, third-year center Hilton Armstrong already had his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Bowen, averaging 2.1 points for the season, had six points and even attempted a wild 14-foot hook shot. It almost went in, rolling off the rim before Armstrong was fouled on a putback attempt. He made the two free throws.

Armstrong finished with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds before leaving in the third quarter with a cut on his right hand.

New Orleans led by at least 15 until late in the second half, coasting most of the way.

Golden State made a modest push late in the fourth quarter, pulling to 94-83 on an Anthony Morrow layup with 3:42 left. But West scored inside on the Hornets’ next possession and the Warriors did not get within single digits until the final two minutes.

Brandan Wright, coming off a career-high 25 points against Philadelphia, scored only four points.

Notes: The Hornets played without starting center Tyson Chandler (sprained ankle) for the third consecutive game and guard Peja Stojakovic (sore back) for the 10th consecutive time. Bowen sustained a separated shoulder in the first half and did not return. The Warriors have lost 16 of their last 18 road games.

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