NBA

Wed, Dec 8, 2010 - 8:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Hornets 93, Pistons 74

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)

David West and the New Orleans Hornets didn't look at all distracted by the NBA's impending takeover of their team.

West scored 25 points, Chris Paul had 14 assists and the Hornets won their first game since the league announced its planned purchase of the club, 93-74 over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

''We've got an understanding of what the situation is, but we've got to be able to separate that from what we can control and just go out here and play ball,'' West said. ''The best situation for us is to win games and make what this organization is attractive by winning games and move on from there.''

West had 23 in the first three quarters as the Hornets built a commanding lead that was never threatened in the final period by Detroit, which has lost six of its past seven and dropped to 2-11 on the road.

Marco Belinelli made four 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 22 points, while Emeka Okafor added 14 points as the Hornets earned only their third win in nine games.

Ben Gordon led Detroit with 16 points in a reserve role, while Rodney Stuckey scored 16 and Richard Hamilton 13.

Jac Sperling, the NBA's appointed caretaker of the Hornets, had reason to be encouraged by the product on the floor as he sat courtside, along the baseline, next to team president Hugh Weber.

The crowd he saw in the stands was less impressive. Announced attendance was 10,823, lowering the Hornets' average to 14,803 for all of last season and 11 home dates this season combined.

If the average attendance for the two seasons falls below 14,735 before the end of January, the club may have the right to invoke an early exit clause that would allow it to leave the city after this season. If not, the current lease runs through 2014.

The NBA on Monday announced plans to own the club only temporarily until a more permanent buyer, preferably one that would keep the team in Louisiana, can be found.

On Tuesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal urged Louisiana basketball fans to try to pack the arena for coming games to void the early exit clause and buy the state more time to figure out how to keep the team in place.

It didn't appear that the governor's message was heeded with much urgency, but West said he and his teammates were not discouraged.

''I just don't believe you can tell people how to spend their money or what to do in their off time,'' West said. ''We understand we've got support. People in this city love this team. Those that come out and support us, we appreciate that. We know that people support us and that's all you can do.''

The Hornets at least did their part to keep those who showed up entertained, shooting 50 percent and holding the Pistons to 37.5 percent shooting. New Orleans also outscored Detroit inside 42-28.

''We couldn't score. Our guys were trying hard,'' Pistons coach John Kuetser said. ''When the ball is not going in the hole, it puts you in a bind and you have to put so much pressure on your defense.''

Paul never seemed pressed to score with his teammates shooting so well and had only six points. He was active on defense as well with five steals, helping to ignite a Hornets fast break that accounted for 16 points.

''People say I'm being passive, but I have to take what the defense gives me,'' Paul said. ''If I get into the lane and I see three people in front of me, that means people are open. The guys were really knocking down shots tonight.''

Pistons forward Jason Maxiell, who had 10 points, said Detroit's defensive plan started with cutting Paul off from the basket.

''When he found an open man, it's kind of hard to defend that,'' Maxiell said. ''His eyes are always open to find his teammates. We had to focus on shutting him down, but also rotating'' to other shooters.

West powered a 14-0 run in the third quarter with two baskets inside - once as he was fouled - and a jumper. Belinelli added his fourth 3 of the game during the spurt, which made it 64-44.

Detroit started to cut into the lead with a 7-0 run and later pulled to 70-56 on Gordon's 3. West then hit a jump hook in traffic as he was fouled to make it 73-56 at the end of the third quarter.

The Hornets never trailed after Okafor's layup with 8:40 left in the first quarter. Belinelli hit three of his 3-pointers and scored 13 in the first two periods, giving the Hornets a 44-34 halftime lead.

Notes: Paul was held scoreless in the first half, marking the first time this season he had not scored in a half. ... Belinelli had scored 20 points only once previously this season. ... The Hornets (14-7) improved to 9-2 at home and play next at home on Friday night against Oklahoma City. ... Detroit finishes a three-game road trip Friday night at Minnesota. ... Detroit rookie Greg Monroe, playing professionally for the first time in his native New Orleans, bought a suite for his family and a cache of tickets for students and friends from his high school, Helen Cox. Monroe had three points and six rebounds in 22:01.

Tagged: Pelicans, Pistons, David West, Chris Paul, Marco Belinelli

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