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Paul, West lead Hornets past Suns

Feb 28, 2008 - 5:09 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- All-Star Chris Paul continued his dominating play against the Phoenix Suns this season.

Paul had 25 points, 15 assists and six rebounds as the New Orleans Hornets cruised past the Suns, 120-103, on Wednesday.

David West scored a game-high 27 points and Jannero Pargo scored 22 off the bench for New Orleans (38-18), which snapped a season high-tying three-game losing streak and once again went 20 games over the .500 mark.

"I can't describe how I feel right now," Paul said. "It's absolutely great. Our entire team just stuck to our game plan. We didn't panic. We all knew we didn't have to change how we approached each series."

The Hornets, who trailed by eight early in the second quarter, put together a huge offensive third quarter to complete a season series, four-game sweep of the Suns.

"We had a sense of urgency to come out and end a three-game losing streak," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We needed to come out and play well tonight or we were going to get embarrassed."

"We were able to correct the mistakes we made in the first half," added Hornets center Tyson Chandler, who registered 12 points and 15 rebounds. "We remained calm and just relaxed. We knew if we kept our composure, we would be able to cut the deficit."

Paul, who could be in the hunt for the league MVP, has torched Phoenix to the tune of 29.0 points and 11.0 assists in this year's series.

After Paul's 42-point effort in a double-overtime win in Phoenix on February 6, Suns coach Mike D'Antoni stuck defensive specialist Raja Bell on Paul on Wednesday.

"We wanted to try something different on him and see what we could do," Bell said. "Obviously, he's one of the better players in the league. They run him off a lot of screens and so you wind up behind him and end up chasing him all night."

Leading 59-55 at the break, New Orleans went on a 9-3 run capped by Chandler's basket 1:57 into the period to make it 68-58 - the Hornets' first double-digit lead of the game.

The home team built a 14-point advantage before Bell drilled a 22-foot jumper to cut the Suns' deficit to 89-77 with 3:17 left in the third. However, the Hornets finished the period on an 8-0 spurt to enter the final quarter leading, 97-77.

"I thought the first half we were up but let it get away from us," D'Antoni said. "They closed on us and in the third quarter they just didn't miss or we didn't guard them - one or the other."

Paul and West both scored eight in the third while Peja Stojakovic added seven for New Orleans, which shot 53 percent (48-of-90) and outscored Phoenix by 16 in the period.

"If we would have kept it within 10 or under, we had a great chance to come back and win," Suns forward Amare Stoudemire said. "Instead, it was a 10-point block where they went up 20 going into the fourth then it was over. We kept fighting but there wasn't much we could do."

Stoudemire had 32 points and 14 rebounds for the Suns, who shot 48 percent (35-of-73) but are just 2-3 since acquiring Shaquille O'Neal on February 6.

O'Neal had 15 points and seven boards, but All-Star Steve Nash scored just eight points and made his first field goal with only 3:54 left in the game. The former two-time MVP did hand out 13 assists but was burned most of the night by Pargo, who shot 9-of-15 from the floor, including three 3-pointers.

"It was a very big win," Pargo said. "We needed this win to get back on the right track and build some momentum."

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