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West's 37 points lead Hornets past Pacers

Mar 26, 2008 - 3:33 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- David West and the New Orleans Hornets got their road trip off to a good start.

West scored 37 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Hornets posted a 114-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Fellow All-Star Chris Paul had 31 points and 14 assists and Peja Stojakovic scored 16 for New Orleans, which has won four straight and is in a virtual tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the top spot in the Western Conference.

"Coach always says that you can't win them all without winning the first one," Paul said. "And this was the first one of a tough, six-game road trip. We got out-transitioned and let them back in it in the third quarter, but we did enough to hold them off and get the win."

The Hornets, who won for just the second time in seven tries away from home, captured the first of a six-game, nine-day road trip against the Eastern Conference.

"David and Chris were were fantastic, but unfortunately we have to do it five more times on this trip," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

Danny Granger scored 26 points and Mike Dunleavy added 17 for Indiana, which lost for the first time in five contests to remain 1 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Atlanta suffered a 103-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

"Even though we lost, we continue to play better than we had been playing, and can take those positives to New Jersey," said Granger of the Pacers back-to-back games with the Nets on Wednesday and Friday. "If we can play well these next two contests, they may very well be the two most important games for us to get in the playoffs."

Leading, 59-56, at the break, New Orleans built as much as a 14-point lead in the third quarter before a 9-2 run at the end of the period cut the Pacers' deficit to 86-79 entering the final quarter.

"The Hornets came out with more energy in the second half," Granger said. "They took it to a double-digit lead immediately and, even though we cut it to two, we just couldn't get over the hump."

West, who connected on 14-of-24 from the floor, had 16 points at intermission before scoring seven in the third.

"We're coming down the home stretch," West said. "I'm a big believer in playing your best basketball late. As a team, we need to play our best basketball these last three weeks of the season. We need to come out every night and put pressure on ourselves to perform."

It was West's seventh 30-plus point effort in 2007-08, including his second straight.

"(West) is just a great player and I don't use that word lightly," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "As for Paul, he's an MVP candidate."

Indiana, which held its last lead 65 seconds before halftime, drew within 100-98 on a runner by Dunleavy with 5:03 left in the fourth.

However, West and Paul combined to score all of the final 14 points for the Hornets with under five minutes left to help secure the victory.

"We definitely have enough offensive firepower to play with any team in the league," Paul said. "But I feel we're at our best when we defend and get out in transition. We've got David, Peja, (Morris Peterson) and Tyson at the rim. we're tough to defend."

Tyson Chandler scored 15 points and Bonzi Wells added nine off the bench for New Orleans, which shot 49 percent (39-of-79) and has won two straight at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Reserves Shawne Williams and David Harrison scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, for the Pacers, who shot 47 percent (41-of-88) and surrendered more than 100 points for the 16th time in their last 18 games.

"I thought we battled hard, but we just couldn't overcome the two great players for New Orleans," O'Brien said. "It's tough to come back on a very, very good basketball team like that."