Stojakovic leads Hornets past Suns, 110-103Nov 20, 2009 - 5:43 AM By BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS(AP) -- The rookie didn't flinch in crunch time and the old veteran couldn't miss.
Darren Collison's poise and Peja Stojakovic's sharp shooting provided the 1-2 punch the suddenly surging New Orleans Hornets needed to pull out a surprising 110-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
The victory was the Hornets' second straight under new head coach Jeff Bower, who took over when Byron Scott was fired last week.
"It's still the regular season, (but) for us it was a very important win," said Stojakovic, who hit seven 3-pointers during a 25-point, 13-rebound performance. "We are too good to quit. We have good talent on this team and you can't give up. ... We did struggle in the beginning of the season. Hopefully we can just raise our level of playing and get some consistency."
Starting in place of Chris Paul, who is out indefinitely with a left ankle sprain, Collison turned the ball over only once in 32 minutes. He also shook off a 1-of-11 start from the field and drained a 26-foot 3-pointer with 2:11 to go, then added a driving finger roll in the final minute to finish with 15 points.
"The most important thing when you're having a tough shooting night is try to get the win, and the second thing is always keep your confidence," said Collison, a first-round draft choice out of UCLA. "You can never let your confidence get away from you in a game like that. If a team's playing off you and you're open, go ahead and shoot it."
Devin Brown and rookie Marcus Thornton each scored 19 for New Orleans, meaning both Hornets rookies finished in double figures.
"Darren and Marcus - I don't know what to say about those kids," Stojakovic said. "They're showing maturity out there on the court and I'm really happy for them. Darren has really stepped up in CP's place and Marcus coming off the bench - he's instant offense."
Amare Stoudemire had 23 points and Jared Dudley, who was 5 of 6 on 3-pointers, scored 17 for Phoenix. Channing Frye added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Phoenix (10-3) was trying to match its best 13-game start in franchise history and was in position to do so when Stoudemire's dunk and short jumper gave the Suns a 92-91 lead.
Stojakovic put New Orleans back in front with his sixth 3, and the Hornets never trailed after that, gaining a measure of revenge for their 20-point loss in Phoenix eight nights earlier, a result that proved to be Scott's final game as coach.
"They were embarrassed by the way they performed at our place," Suns coach Alvin Gentry began. "You knew they were going to play better here. No doubt in my mind. Chris Paul or no Chris Paul, it doesn't matter. ... They made some big shots at the right time."
Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans, which dominated inside. New Orleans outrebounded Phoenix 56-38 and the Hornets' 25 offensive rebounds helped produce 38 second-chance points, compared to 13 for the Suns. New Orleans outscored the Suns in the paint, 36-30.
New Orleans was 52 percent from 3-point range (13 of 25) and the Suns were 11 of 28 (39 percent).
Stojakovic had his first double-double since Jan. 21, when he had 20 points and 10 rebounds against New Jersey for his only double-double last season.
Steve Nash had 13 points and 10 assists for Phoenix. Jason Richardson scored 16 points, Leandro Barbosa 11 and Grant Hill 10.
Phoenix opened the second half on a 16-5 run and led 65-57 after Hill's jumper.
Just as the game appeared to be getting away from the Hornets, they responded with a 7-0 run, capped by Brown's 3-pointer. Stojakovic's back-to-back 3s later in the period vaulted the Hornets back into the lead at 74-71.
"They scrapped and got their confidence going early and got the crowd into it," Frye said. "They made plays for each other. ... We weren't focused."
New Orleans raced to 15-2 lead in the first quarter, but the Suns eventually pulled back. Hill's dunk and 3s by Dudley and Richardson highlighted a 10-0 run in the second quarter that gave Phoenix its first lead at 41-39. New Orleans surged back into the lead on Stojakovic's third 3 late in the second quarter and his driving layup in the final seconds gave New Orleans a 52-49 lead at halftime.
NOTES: The Hornets are 2-2 under Bower and 2-1 without Paul. ... Three previous Suns teams have opened a season 11-2 (1980-81, 2004-05 and 2007-08). ... Phoenix has scored 100 or more points in each of its first 13 games. Four previous Suns teams have scored 100-plus points in each of their first 13 games, the last time being in 1988-89.
NEW ORLEANS 110 FINAL
Nov 19 10:49 PM
END 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
PHOENIX 22 27 27 76
NEW ORLEANS 26 26 26 78 END 3RD QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 3RD QUARTER
PHO - STEVE NASH 13, AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE 13,
JARED DUDLEY 12
NOR - PEJA STOJAKOVIC 19, DEVIN BROWN 17,
MARCUS THORNTON 17
Nov 19 10:07 PM
NEW ORLEANS 52 HALFTIME
Nov 19 9:18 PM
NEW ORLEANS 26 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 19 8:43 PM
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