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West, Paul lead Hornets past Rockets to remain unbeaten

Nov 6, 2006 - 3:15 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Chris Paul and David West gave the crowd at New Orleans Arena something to cheer about.

Paul tied his career high with 16 assists and added 12 points, and David West scored 22 points as the New Orleans Hornets posted a 96-90 victory over the Houston Rockets in their home opener.

A sold out crowd of over 18,000 fans, including NBA commissioner David Stern, watched the first of six home games the Hornets will play in New Orleans this season.

"Man, the crowd did so much for us," Paul said. "They were energized. They went nuts from the National Anthem on. That motivated us."

It was only the fourth game played in New Orleans Arena since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city last year.

Paul, who was a member of Team USA at the World Championships this summer, has led the Hornets to their first 3-0 start since the 2003-04 season.

"None of the wins have been pretty, but we're getting the job done," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "I can see us getting better."

"I'm a little biased," Paul said. "I think this team is really good. But I'm not going to get ahead of myself. It's a long season, and we have a lot of work to do."

The 2005-06 Rookie of the Year had 10 points and 10 assists at halftime as the Hornets took a 48-42.

"We've surrounded him with a bunch of good shooters, so he's going to have a bunch of games like that," Scott said. "He'll probably break his career high this season."

West scored 16 points in the second half, including six when the Hornets went on an 18-5 run after Luther Head's 19-foot jumper gave the Rockets a 77-76 lead with 9:03 remaining.

"We want to continue to improve," West said. "We can't get complacent or feel we've accomplished anything yet. It's a long, long season. We just need to keep focused on getting stops and making shots on the offensive end."

Bobby Jackson had five points in the burst and finished with 12 off the bench. Peja Stojakovic added 16 and hit 5-of-8 on 3-pointers as the Hornets shot 47 percent (33-of-70) and went 9-of-16 from 3-point range.

The Hornets had 19 fast-break points while the Rockets had none.

"We were trying to get up and down as much as possible," Scott said. "That's a point of emphasis every time we play Houston. We'll try to run and wear down Yao."

"The Hornets played with so much energy," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "We never really put any defensive pressure on them. We never forced them to use their third or fourth options."

Battier had 15 of his 18 points in the first half and Yao Ming added 17 and 10 rebounds for Houston, which has lost four of its last five against the Hornets.

"What hurt me was foul trouble," said Yao, who had three personal fouls in the first quarter. "In the fourth quarter we were giving them everything. West would get long shots. We gave them long shots and shots in transition."

Their next scheduled game is at Oklahoma City on Tuesday which the team considers as a second home-opener.

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