for this game

Paul, Hornets jump out early, cruise past Jazz

Mar 1, 2008 - 5:03 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- It wasn't the rout the New Orleans Hornets were constructing early, but it was a reprieve from their recent problems against the Utah Jazz.

All-Stars Chris Paul and David West combined for 49 points as the Hornets built a large first-half lead en route to Friday's 110-98 victory over the Jazz.

West had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Paul had 24 and 16 assists to lead the Hornets (39-18) to their second consecutive victory, which moved them one-half game behind Southwest Division-leading San Antonio (39-17).

The victory also served as payback against the Jazz, who had won four consecutive meetings with the Hornets by an average of 18.0 points during the past 11 months.

Peja Stojakovic scored 20 points for New Orleans, including a pair of 3-pointers after Utah reduced a 27-point first-half deficit to four with 6 1/2 minutes remaining.

"I thought it was important, with about six minutes left in the game, to go back to running some of our motion offense," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "I thought they did a good job of locking in on (Paul) and David (West).

"I wanted to get us back to where we had some movement and we're able to get some rolls and jump shots. I don't think they were ready for it because we had not done it for a while."

A 23-0 first-quarter spurt was the catalyst to the Hornets' 25th double-digit victory of the season. Paul had a hand in nearly all the points in the run, scoring nine and providing four assists which led to nine more points.

Paul finished the first with 13 points and seven assists for New Orleans, which scored 14 points off turnovers during the period. The Hornets led 38-15 after one quarter.

"I don't know if you can maintain that intensity the entire 48 minutes," Scott said. "But those first 12 minutes were outstanding and, obviously, we needed every bit of it."

The Hornets held a comfortable lead for most of the first half, taking their biggest lead, 44-17, on newly acquired guard Mike James' driving layup at 9:47 of the second quarter.

"Utah is very physical whenever we play them," said Paul, who recorded his 35th double-double of the season. "We matched their intensity early on. We did a great job coming out aggressive."

Mehmet Okur scored nine points in the final six minutes of the first half to cut Utah's deficit to 58-45 by the break. The Jazz cut the margin to 85-77 by the end of the third quarter on Williams' 3-pointer from 25 feet.

Utah never got closer down the stretch than 89-85 on Andrei Kirilenko's basket with 6:33 remaining.

The Hornets answered with a pair of 3-pointers each from Stojakovic and Jannero Pargo. Stojakovic's shot from the arc with 3:33 left gave New Orleans a 102-91 lead, and Utah never cut the margin to single digits the rest of the way.

Pargo led the Hornets in the final quarter with 10 points en route to 15 for the game.

"We were just withstanding in the fourth quarter," Paul said. "But Jannero came up huge and was a big spark for us."

Paul got the better of Utah point guard Deron Williams on Friday and, in turn, got a leg up in the battle for supremacy among the young Western Conference studs. Williams was the No. 3 pick and Paul went No. 4 in the 2005 draft.

"D-Williams is a great young player," Paul said. "Going against him brings out the best in you."

Okur scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Williams had 22 and 10 assists for Utah, the Northwest Division leader. The Jazz lost for just the fifth time in 24 games.

"We need to fight a little harder," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We have to play for 48 minutes, not 30 or 35. (New Orleans) got in our faces. They kicked our butts all night long."

A Utah victory would have been its second in three nights from a double-digit deficit against one of the NBA's top teams. The Jazz trailed the Detroit Pistons by 11 at halftime at home on Wednesday before rallying for a 103-95 victory.

"This was a winnable ballgame," Okur said. "In the (Western Conference), everybody is so close. Every game is like a playoff game. We've got to be more focused."

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