NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Just a night after one of the worst shooting performances of his career, Quentin Richardson kept firing away and broke a franchise record in the process.
Richardson set a new Suns mark for 3-pointers in a game with nine and finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds, leading Phoenix to a 107-96 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night in matchup of the NBA’s best and worst.
“Until somebody else comes along or I beat it again, I’ll be in the history books,” Richardson said. “That’s something to be really proud of, especially when you help your team win. That’s the best part about it—to make a difference in the game.”
Richardson, who was 0-for-7 in a loss Monday at San Antonio, drilled his final 3-pointer right after a 3 by rookie J.R. Smith had pulled New Orleans to 98-93 with 56 seconds to go.
“Q’s a gamer. He came off a bad game against San Antonio. He stepped up big, made big shots,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s only done it about 10 times this year. I appreciate it every time he does it.”
Jim Jackson was supposed to make his debut for New Orleans two days after being acquired in a trade that also brought Bostjan Nachbar to the Hornets in exchange for David Welsey. Nachbar played but Jackson failed to show up and the team suspended him indefinitely.
Smith, who started in Jackson’s place and scored a career-high 23, hit three jumpers early in the third quarter, two from 3-point range, as the Hornets opened the second half with a 20-9 run. P.J. Brown capped it when Dan Dickau fed him underneath to give the Hornets—who had trailed by 13 late in the first half—a rare lead at 64-63.
Richardson quickly turned the game around, however, hitting three 3-pointers in a 16-4 Phoenix run. Five quick points from Steven Hunter gave Phoenix an 80-70 lead heading into the final period.
“Richardson had a tremendous night and picked up the slack for that team,” Brown said. “When a guy’s shooting like that—I thought we had some hands in his face—there’s not much you can do about that.”
“You’ve got a point guard like Nash that collapses the defense and brings them in, and (Richardson) doesn’t need that much room to get a shot off. That was a big-time killer for us.”
“I was very proud of the way we just hung in there and we kept playing,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “There were some pleasant surprises. I though J.R. came of age tonight on both ends of the court.”
Coming off their humbling 21-point loss at San Antonio a night earlier, Phoenix took an early lead and dominated the second quarter. Richardson, who had shown up early to practice shooting, had 14 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers, while Nash had 11 to that point.
“Steve was getting real good penetration today and that makes all the difference for us as shooters,” Richardson said. “When he gets penetration, other guys are going to get open because they’ve got a lot of respect for his drive.”
The Suns opened a 54-41 lead with 21 seconds left in the second period on Joe Johnson’s layup. Dickau’s 3-pointer cut it to 54-44 at the half.
The Suns have the league’s best road record at 12-2. … Johnson finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and Hunter had 10 points. … Nachbar scored his first points as a Hornet on a 22-footer with 1:53 left in the first quarter and finished with seven points. … The Hornets have allowed at least 100 points in each of their last six games. … The Suns came in averaging 108.8 points per game, best in the league, while New Orleans’ 85.2 scoring average was last in the NBA. … With an influx of sports fans in town for the Sugar Bowl, the Hornets had one of their better crowds of the season, announced as 16,905.