Wesley scored 12 of his 20 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers, as the Hornets built an early double-digit lead and were never threatened in a 97-87 victory over the downtrodden Wizards on Wednesday night.
“It’s nice to have a game like this where a team doesn’t play very good defense and you kind of get a rhythm,” said Wesley, who had scored only 13 points and shot 21 percent in his previous two games. “I didn’t feel heavily guarded that much at all tonight. I got some really good looks.”
Baron Davis had 28 points and 10 assists, putting the game out of reach when he scored all of the Hornets’ points during a 9-2 fourth-quarter run. He started it with a 3-pointer, hit a pair of free throws and converted a pair of acrobatic drives, going behind his back on his way to the basket on the first.
On the other, he muscled his way along the baseline for a short floating hook off a double-pump to give the Hornets an 88-65 lead with about 5:30 left.
“Baron Davis is a type of player we don’t have,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “New Orleans has guys who can carry the load. We have nobody that can carry us out of bad stretches.”
Jamaal Magloire added 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Hornets sent Washington to its 12th loss in 14 games.
Larry Hughes led Washington with 15 points, but like his entire team, he struggled to hit shots. Hughes was 6-of-17, while the Wizards shot only 38.6 percent as a team compared to 45.6 percent for New Orleans.
Gilbert Arenas, in his fifth game back from the injured list (strained abdomen), scored 13 but continued to have trouble with his shot, shooting 4-of-13. Guarded mostly by Davis, he turned the ball over four times.
Washington came out as if it were still reeling from its 94-72 loss at San Antonio a night earlier, missing its first eight shots, four of them airballs.
The Wizards’ first points came on a 22-foot jump shot by Christian Laettner with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter, but soon after, Wesley’s 18-foot jumper gave the Hornets a 12-2 lead.
“Sometimes we take a step backward,” Jordan said. “In the long run, we’re progressing. It’s an oxymoron. We’re losing more, but we’re progressing. We see improvement out there with some individuals. We see our team coming together as far as camaraderie.”
New Orleans led 39-19 after Magloire, while on his back, picked up a loose ball and zipped a pass to Darrell Armstrong for an open 3-pointer.
Arenas’ layup in the final second cut the Hornets’ lead to 49-32 at halftime.
Washington never got closer than 10 points in the second half. Jarvis Hayes (11 points) hit a 3 late in the third quarter to make it 70-60.
However, Brevin Knight fouled Armstrong on a shot behind the 3-point line on the Hornets’ next possession, and Armstrong hit all three free throws. Armstrong finished with 14 points off the bench.
“It’s important to take care of teams like this,” said Hornets forward P.J. Brown. “They are a young team … trying to find their identity rightnow. We never really gave them a chance to get their confidence up.”
New Orleans plays 11 of its next 15 at home. “This could be an important month when we can really make a run and maybe even take over first place,” Wesley said. … Washington’s 14 points in the first quarter tied a season low in a quarter by a Hornets opponent. … Washington has lost seven straight road games. … Arenas has shot 25-for-81 (30.9 percent) in five games since returning from the injured list. … Davis scored 12 of his points duringan eight-minute span in the fourth quarter.