Hornets 97, Trail Blazers 78

The New Orleans Hornets returned to their winning ways by

re-establishing their defense.

Reserve Willie Green scored 13 of his 19 points in the first

half, Trevor Ariza added 18, and the Hornets got back on track with

a 97-78 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night

Chris Paul had 16 points and 13 assists for the Hornets, who got

off to one of the best starts in the NBA but had dropped two of

their previous three games on a West Coast road trip. The Hornets

had given up an average of 102 points in those two losses,

including an ugly 105-87 defeat at Utah Wednesday.

New Orleans clamped down on Portland, holding the Blazers to

39.5 percent shooting and a season-low point total.

”That’s a credit to our team D,” Paul said. ”At point we got

11 of 12 stops. (Defense) is who we are. That’s our identity.”

Brandon Roy scored 27 points, leading the Blazers in his return

from a sore knee that kept him out three games. LaMarcus Aldridge

added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, losers of four

of their last six. No other Blazer scored in double figures.

New Orleans (12-3) has beaten Portland four straight times. The

Hornets clobbered Portland 107-87 in New Orleans on Nov. 13. Roy

left that game with the knee injury and had not played since. The

banged-up Blazers got a much-needed, six-day break before this

game, last playing on Saturday in a 103-94 loss to Utah, but the

rest didn’t help.

”We kind of got off our rhythm,” said Blazers guard Wesley

Matthews, who was 1 of 6 from the field with just four points.

”It’s hard to get your rhythm back when the other team is scoring

on you.”

The game marked New Orleans coach Monty Williams’ return to

Portland, where he spent the last five seasons as an assistant

under Nate McMillan. Williams’ intimate knowledge of the Blazers

made a difference, according to Roy.

”They did a good job reading our plays,” Roy said. ”They took

certain plays away from us. I think coach Monty had a pretty good

read on us. Not just on our plays but our tendencies.”

Portland led most of the first half and the Blazers were up by

nine in the second quarter, but New Orleans went on a 17-2 run to

take a lead that it never relinquished. The Hornets held their lead

throughout the third, going up 75-63 on a driving layup from

Ariza.

Roy made a 20-footer to get the Blazers within 79-72 with 8:18

remaining in the game, but Portland stalled from there. Paul scored

back-to-back baskets to give New Orleans its biggest lead to that

point at 85-72. Portland had just 13 points in the fourth

quarter.

”To come back with a defensive effort like that says a lot

about our guys,” Williams said. ”They decided yesterday that we

have to be a defensive team.”

Portland expected to get center Joel Przybilla back from a

ruptured patella tendon, but the 7-footer’s return was delayed

because of the stomach flu. The Blazers could have used him on the

boards – New Orleans outrebounded Portland by 21.

Notes: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sat courtside for the game.

His Blue Devils play Oregon at the Rose Garden on Saturday. … New

Orleans has won the last three games in Portland. The Hornets last

won the season series in 2005-06 when the team was playing in

Oklahoma City. … Roy has hit 36 straight free throw attempts.