Paul scores 15 points, Hornets top Clippers

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Peja Stojakovic(notes) figured the New Orleans Hornets were bound to get on a roll eventually.

After all, they were supposed to be better than the team that made the playoffs last season.

“When you look in this room, you definitely see a lot of good, talented players,” Stojakovic said, glancing across the locker room toward two-time All-Stars Chris Paul(notes) and David West(notes). “It was a matter of when are we going to start playing up to our capabilities, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Paul had 15 points and 15 assists, and the Hornets won for the seventh time in eight games, 108-94 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Stojakovic, hitting at least four 3-pointers in a game for the ninth time this season, scored 20 points to help New Orleans beat the Clippers a 12th consecutive time.

“The 3-point shots were huge,” Paul said. “Peja gets going like that early, we’re tough to defend because now they can’t help (defend inside) and we get the pick-and-roll going.”

Working that pick-and-roll with Paul was Emeka Okafor(notes), who scored 21 points, mostly inside with seven points coming at the foul line. West and Marcus Thornton(notes) each scored 11 for the Hornets, who led by as much as 21 en route to their 13th win in their last 14 home games.

“We’ve been in a groove the past couple games,” Okafor said. “Today everything was working and the next thing you know we’re up 20.”

Baron Davis(notes) scored 19 points, and Brian Skinner(notes) added 14 for Los Angeles, which has lost two straight following a four-game winning streak.

“We just didn’t have a good game,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “We couldn’t make outside shots. … Making shots energizes players and we didn’t get enough energy tonight.”

The bigger loss for the Clippers came off the court as the club announced top draft pick Blake Griffin(notes), who had yet to play in the regular season, needs season-ending surgery on his broken left kneecap.

“I texted him to let him know this is a minor blemish on his career and that he would get over it,” Clippers center Marcus Camby(notes) said. “I look forward to seeing him when we get back.”

The game was tied at 50 early in the third quarter when Paul’s 3 and mid-range jumper fueled a 7-0 run. Paul scored 11 in the period, including a running floater and another jumper that put New Orleans up 77-68 late in the quarter. The Hornets made 13 of 18 shots in the period (72 percent), with Paul going 5 for 5.

The Hornets continued to pull away early in the fourth quarter when Okafor converted a three-point play inside and Stojakovic followed with his fourth 3 of the game to make it 84-72.

Later in the quarter, James Posey(notes) hit a 3, then Thornton followed with two more to make it 104-83 and hasten the substitution of any remaining starters out of the game.

“A win is a win, but a win like we had to today makes you feel a little extra good, the fact that everybody was able to contribute and we were able to kind of take it easy in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter instead of having to duke it out, fight it out for every possession,” Okafor said. “Whenever you can get a win as easy as we did tonight, pat yourself on the back and keep going.

New Orleans hit nine 3s and shot 51.7 percent (45 of 87) for the game. The Clippers outrebounded New Orleans 46-38, with Camby grabbing 20 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end. But Los Angeles shot 40.7 percent, which was not good enough to keep pace.

The Hornets had six players score in double figures, including Devin Brown(notes) with 10 despite going 0 for 7 from 3-point range.

Al Thornton(notes) scored 12 for Los Angeles and Eric Gordon(notes) 11.

Stojakovic hit his first three 3-point attempts and had 15 of his points in the first half.

Coming off a 27-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist performance in the Clippers’ 104-102 loss at Memphis on Tuesday night, Davis scored 11 points in the first half against New Orleans. The Clippers led by as much as seven in the second quarter on Ricky Davis’(notes) 3-pointer, which made it 41-34.

New Orleans then surged back ahead with an 8-0 run capped by Posey’s 3. Brown’s fast-break dunk gave the Hornets a 50-48 lead at halftime.

NOTES: The Hornets are 15-3 at home this season. … Clippers center Chris Kaman(notes) missed his second straight game with a sore back … Hornets rookie point guard Darren Collison(notes) missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee. … The Hornets said team owner George Shinn had successful surgery to remove his prostate in Baltimore, earlier Wednesday. Shinn was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 LA Clippers
B. Davis Baron Davis
6-17,  19 Pts
2 Rebs, 6 Assists
 New Orleans
C. Paul Chris Paul
7-11,  15 Pts
2 Rebs, 15 Assists

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Wednesday, Jan 13