NEW ORLEANS (AP)—The Hornets are playing unrelenting, merciless basketball since getting embarrassed by the Los Angeles Lakers on their home court last week.
Three of their last four victories have come at home by an average margin of 28.3 points.
“I think we were kind of angered by that Laker loss,” Hornets center Tyson Chandler said of the 109-80 defeat on Jan. 9. “They definitely caught our attention and woke us up and now the other teams are paying for it.”
Peja Stojakovic hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points for New Orleans (27-12), which shot 60 percent in winning for the 12th time in its last 14 games to keep pace with the leaders in the Western Conference.
The Hornets’ starters played only three quarters, which was plenty.
Chandler and Chris Paul both had double-doubles, marking the 13th time they’ve done so in the same game this season. The Hornets have won all of those games.
Paul had 14 points and 13 assists, while Chandler had four alley-oop dunks in the first quarter before finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Reserve center Melvin Ely added 11 points.
“It’s great,” Paul said. “Left, right, Peja, Mo (Peterson), D-West, Tyson for the lob, or, you know, every now and then I catch them knowing that I’m going to pass so much and it gets me a layup.”
Emeka Okafor led Charlotte with 13 points, while Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson each scored 12. Richardson, who had averaged 25 points during his previous 14 games, went 5-of-17 from the field, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range.
“From the first play of the game they went right at us,” Charlotte guard Jeff McInnis said. “We started the small lineup, so Gerald was kind of undermanned down there with those big guys.
“In the second half, we went with our big lineup, but it really looked like it didn’t make a difference. They were getting everything they wanted.”
New Orleans had a 19-point lead by halftime and pulled away even more in the third quarter.
Stojakovic hit three 3-pointers during the period, when West added 12 of his points on a combination of determined drives to the hoop and open jump shots.
“They may be a contender for the championship this year,” Richardson said. “We gave our best effort, but they had a better game than us tonight.”
When Paul pick-pocketed McInnis and went the other way for an uncontested two-handed dunk, New Orleans took its largest lead at 86-56 with about two minutes remaining in the third quarter. West then added a jumper, set up by Paul, then a driving layup with a second to go in the quarter, putting New Orleans up 90-62 and allowing Hornets coach Byron Scott to empty his bench during the fourth quarter.
“I’ve always talked about having that killer instinct when you have a team down,” Scott said. “When you have your foot on their neck, don’t let them up. Smash them down. It might sound kind of cruel but you’ve got to have that.”
Charlotte, showing signs of improvement this month with victories over Boston, Orlando and Denver, scored on nine straight possessions in a tightly contested first quarter that finished with New Orleans holding a 26-25 lead.
The Bobcats’ shooting failed them in the second quarter, however. They were 7-of-26 (26.9 percent), including 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
New Orleans then closed the quarter on a 12-2 run that included 3-pointers by Stojakovic and Morris Peterson and ended with West’s follow-up dunk of Chandler’s miss, giving the Hornets a 59-40 lead at halftime.
Jackson left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained right hamstring. … All five Hornets starters assisted on an alley-oop dunk in the first quarter. Chandler was on the receiving end of the first four before his lob set up West’s jam. … The Hornets are 20-3 against teams with records below .500 at the time of the matchup. … Richardson’s streak of games with at least one 3-pointer made ended at 33. … Attendance was 12,986.