Hornets 93, Suns 84

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- Greivis Vasquez scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and added 12 assists and four steals to lift the New Orleans Hornets to a 93-84 victory over the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
Greivis went 8 of 9 from the floor and Al-Farouq Aminu added 16 points and 11 rebounds to help the Hornets (16-33) snap a four-game losing streak.
The Suns (17-33) placed five players in double figures -- led by Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley with 14 each -- but they went 1 of 15 from 3-point range and scored only 13 points in the fourth quarter.
After 19 first-half lead changes, the Hornets turned a 61-60 deficit into a 73-63 lead with a 13-2 run in a 3:23 span of the third quarter. Robin Lopez tipped in a pair a point-blank misses by Eric Gordon, and Aminu added four points with a floater in the lane and a thunderous dunk off a feed by Vasquez.
New Orleans took a 78-71 lead into the fourth quarter but went scoreless for 4:02, missing its first five shots and committing three turnovers, allowing the Suns to close within 78-74. Jason Smith ended the drought by picking up a loose ball in the lane and hitting a short jumper, but the Suns scored four straight to close within 80-78.
But after the Hornets scored just two points in the first 6:40 of the fourth quarter, Ryan Anderson worked free for a 3-pointer from the right baseline and Lopez took a feed from Anderson for a driving layup, putting New Orleans up 85-78 with 4:42 left.
Vasquez was nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and dishing out five assists. It was a carryover from his last appearance against the Suns, when he scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor to go with 15 assists.
The Suns allowed Vasquez to drive the lane at will, and Vasquez went left more than he normally does to get to the basket. The Hornets shot 54.8 percent from the floor (23 of 42) in the first half, but Phoenix stayed close by making 12 of 13 free throws.
Scola and Dragic scored 11 points each for the Suns in the first half. Scola took advantage of rookie Anthony Davis by getting him off his feet on ball fakes and then dribbling to the basket. But the Suns made just 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
After committing a combined 45 turnovers in their previous two losses to Denver and Minnesota, the Hornets had just four turnovers in the first half, which was a point of emphasis for head coach Monty Williams.
NOTES: Gordon played his first game against the Suns after having signed a four-year, $58 million offer sheet with the team during the summer, which the Hornets matched four days later. During the free-agent negotiations, Gordon angered Hornets fans when he said his "heart" was in Phoenix. But since returning to the starting lineup after suffering a right knee injury in late December, Gordon leads the Hornets with 16.9 points per game. ... After going 1-4 on a five-game road trip scheduled around the Super Bowl, the Hornets are now faced with three more road games starting Friday night in Atlanta because of Mardi Gras. "Everybody's going to have a point in their schedule where they don't like it," said Hornets coach Williams. "We don't have the record that we want, but we have been able to teach and show our guys how tough it is to play in the league. We may not see the growth until this summer when guys are able to process what they've been through." ... Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter, who split his first eight games after taking over on Jan. 20 for Alvin Gentry, says he's trying to change the Suns' "culture" from offense to defense. "Cultural change means the first thing you think about when you hear a team's name," Gentry said. "It used to be when you heard the Phoenix Suns, what did you think? Offense. We want to be known as a tough, defensive-minded team and a disciplined team."

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