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Hornets win on road, will play 35 games in Oklahoma City

DENVER (AP) -- Rasual Butler had 19 points and eight rebounds to
lead the New Orleans Hornets to a 100-90 victory over the Denver
Nuggets in the first preseason game for both teams Thursday night.

The Hornets will play 35 of their 41 regular season home games
in Oklahoma City as the city of New Orleans continues to recover
from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

The New Orleans Arena sustained extensive water damage from the
hurricane and will take months to repair. But even if New Orleans
is ready to welcome the team back before the 2005-06 season ends,
the Hornets are locked into their 35 dates at the 19,675-seat Ford
Center.

Bostjan Nachbar added 16 points and J.R. Smith had 12 for New
Orleans. First-round draft choice Chris Paul had six points and
seven assists.

Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 17 points. DeMarr Johnson had 15
for the Nuggets who shot 40 percent.

New Orleans shot 63 percent and Smith had eight points in the
first quarter to build a 34-23 lead.

Butler had a breakaway dunk and a 3-pointer early in the second
quarter to extend the Hornets lead to 41-25. Reserve Eduardo Najera
had nine points to get Denver as close as 12, but New Orleans hit
three free throws in the last two minutes to lead 56-41 at
halftime.

Nachbar had 14 of his points in the third quarter, on 5-for-5
shooting as New Orleans maintained an 81-67 lead through three
quarters.

The lead was 94-79 after a basket by Butler and Kirk Snyder's
3-pointer with 4:09 left in the game.

Earl Watson's 3-pointer and a jumper by Julius Hodge with 2:01
left got the Nuggets as close as 95-87.