for this game

West, Stojakovic help Hornets stay atop West

Mar 31, 2008 - 1:39 AM By Brian Herman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

TORONTO (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Hornets rode the hot shooting of David West and Peja Stojakovic to a 118-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.

West scored 32 points, Stojakovic added 25 and Chris Paul put together another solid game, finishing with 20 and 16 assists for the Hornets (50-22), who recorded their 50th win of the season and now stand atop the Western Conference.

"50 wins is huge for us. Not many people expected us to be where we are," West said. "Now, we are focused on trying to win the West and we are going to have to continue to play at high level to accomplish that."

"Before the season we talked about winning 50 games and making the playoffs but now our expectations are bigger than this," Stojakovic said.

They are percentage points ahead of the San Antonio Spurs (51-23), who dispatched the Houston Rockets earlier Sunday.

It's the first time since the 1997-1998 season - when they were located in Charlotte - that the franchise notched a 50-win campaign.

Toronto seemed to have no answer for New Orleans, which went on an 18-2 run to start the third quarter, putting it in firm control of the outcome.

A monster alley-oop dunk by Tyson Chandler on a pass from Paul highlighted the run with Morris Peterson's 3-pointer at 5:38 capping the burst to give the Hornets a 87-63 lead.

"Peja (Stojakovic) had it going early and then David West was really lighting it up which opens up the floor for Tyson and myself," Paul said.

Peterson, playing his first game back in Toronto - where he spent his first seven seasons in the NBA - added eight points for New Orleans.

The Raptors responded with a 10-2 run, highlighted by strong play from Carlos Delfino, who finished with 18 points off the bench for Toronto.

New Orleans countered with back-to-back three-point plays by Stojakovic and Paul to restore a 22-point advantage for the Hornets with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

"They've got great shooters and some nights you got to hope that some guys don't shoot the ball well, but tonight they seemed to make every shot," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said.

West torched the Raptors in the first quarter as he recorded 16 points to pace the Hornets, who put together an 18-4 run. West's dunk at 2:10 capped the run and gave his club a 32-18 lead.

"We wanted to come out and be as aggressive as possible, we know Toronto is a talented team so we wanted to put pressure on them early," West said.

Chris Bosh helped the Raptors battle back as he recorded 12 points as they trailed 37-28 at the end of one quarter.

"They (Hornets) shot the ball well tonight, and you can see why they are one of the top teams in the West," Bosh said. "We switched up defensive schemes and tried different things, but they were still able to have success."

West continued to give the Raptors trouble as he connected on both jumpers and layups while Paul continued to feed him and Stojakovic, recording nine assists in the first half.

Stojakovic connected on all three of his attempts from the arc to net 15 points in the half as the Hornets led 69-58 at the break.

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