Hornets rally past Pistons


AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) David West’s best
game of the season spared the Hornets a demoralizing loss to an
undermanned opponent in front of their own fans.

West scored a season-high 32 points
and grabbed 12 rebounds, helping New Orleans overcome a 16-point
deficit and beat the Detroit Pistons 95-87 on Wednesday night.

“Detroit, they’re a little banged up.
We felt like this was a game we had to come in here and get,” said
West, who scored 18 points during New Orleans’ second-half comeback.
“We’re not in position to be able to drop three or four games in a row
where we sit right now.”

Chris Paul scored 14 of his 16 points
in the second half and added 12 assist for the Hornets, which snapped a
two-game losing streak while handing Detroit its second-straight loss.
The Hornets improved to 11-13, barely good enough to pull even with the
Los Angeles Clippers for 10th place in the Western Conference.

The Pistons came into the game
without Ben Gordon (left ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (back), then were
dealt more bad news just before tipoff when Richard Hamilton was unable
to play because of a sore right hamstring. Hamilton had scored 21
points in a 107-96 loss in Houston a night earlier, but had muscle
tightness during that game, and it continued to bother him during
warmups in New Orleans.

That left Rodney Stuckey to lead the
way for Detroit, and he carried his team to a 16-point lead in the
first half, when he scored 16 of his 26 points. But the Hornets swarmed
Stuckey in the fourth quarter and Detroit was unable to respond,
shooting 25 percent in the final period (5 of 20).

“We were having trouble with Stuckey
all night,” West said. “He’s a tough, aggressive guard. Those last five
minutes we kind of concentrated on him.”

The only other double-digit scorers
for Detroit were Charlie Villanueva with 18 and Chucky Atkins, who
started in place of Hamilton, with 13.

“It’s very frustrating,” Villanueva
said. “The second half we gave them a little bit of breathing room and
we just collapsed offensively.”

Emeka Okafor had 15 points for New Orleans, while Peja Stojakovic hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.

While Detroit dominated early, New
Orleans performed best in the clutch, hitting all 10 of its free throws
in the final quarter and finishing the game on a 17-6 run that began
when Stojakovic’s 3 tied it at 81 with 3:23 to go.

“Tonight was all about making big-time plays,” Hornets coach Jeff Bower said.

After Paul and Ben Wallace exchanged
baskets, West hit a layup and an 18-foot fadeaway to give New Orleans
the lead for good at 87-83.

Down by 14 early in the second half,
the Hornets got back in the game when West hit a pair of fadeaway
jumpers during a 7-0 run that made it 59-52. West had 10 points in the
period, hitting a layup and a pair of free throws to cut New Orleans’
deficit to 69-66 late in the third quarter.

West’s driving one-handed jam and
layup put New Orleans back in the lead at 76-75 with 8:12 left in the
fourth quarter, marking New Orleans’ first lead since the first

With the Hornets committing 14 of
their 18 turnovers in the first half, Detroit took the early initiative
with a 20-4 run in the second quarter, during which the Hornets went
5:50 without scoring a point until West’s putback of Darren Collison’s
miss made it 49-35.

Daye hit a pair of 3s during the
spurt, which Villanueva capped with seven straight points on a 3, a
mid-range jumper and layup to make it 49-33, and Detroit led 55-42 at

NOTES: Two plays were reviewed by
video replay within the final second of the period, starting with
Paul’s driving layup that was ruled good because of a goaltend, with
Chris Wilcox pinning the ball against the backboard as the horn
sounded. After that ruling, which cut Detroit’s lead to 73-70,
officials ordered 0.3 seconds back on the clock. Austin Daye then
drained a shot from near half court. Officials waved that shot off,
ruling it went up just after the horn, then confirmed the ruling on
video review. … The Hornets have won seven of their last eight at
home. … Reggie Bush, who is Paul’s neighbor in a downtown high-rise,
sat courtside next to Paul’s brother, C.J.

Updated December 17, 2009