Suns set over Hornets in Baton Rouge homecoming

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Eddie House ruined the New Orleans
Hornets' big night.

Returning to Louisiana for the first time this season and
playing just up the river from their hurricane-ruined home court,
the Hornets appeared ready to give the hometown crowd a big

But House shook off his offensive struggles and scored 26
points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, helping the Phoenix
Suns rally for a 101-88 victory.

"I feed off other people's energy," House said after quieting
the crowd's celebration.

For most of the game, the Hornets thrilled their fans by scoring
on fast breaks and big dunks and playing tough defense.

"It was good to be back in front of our hometown fans,"
Hornets' center P.J. Brown said. "People here love us and it was
good to be back in front of family. It felt good. Everything was
going well.

"Hopefully, we can come back next month and get back on track
and win some games in front of our fans."

House didn't score in the third quarter, but fueled the Suns'
decisive run with his 3-point shooting in the final period, when
Phoenix outscored New Orleans 37-10.

The Hornets, playing their first regular-season game in
Louisiana after being forced to relocate to Oklahoma City because
of Hurricane Katrina, took the lead early and led by 15 points in
the third period.

Shawn Marion scored 21 points for Phoenix and had 15 rebounds,
Steve Nash added 18 points, Kurt Thomas added 16 and Raja Bell 11.
Boris Diaw had 13 rebounds.

Chris Paul led the Hornets with 25 points, Brown had 20 and J.R.
Smith added 14. Both Brown and David West had 13 rebounds.

The Hornets will play five more "home" games at the LSU Pete
Maravich Assembly Center.

"Our sales people tell me most of the tickets were sold to New
Orleans fans," owner George Shinn said. "I think with all these
people have gone through, this is a good thing for them and for

The visit was more than a goodwill gesture, it was a chance for
Louisiana fans to see a team that has changed markedly since last
year. Nearly half of the players who saw action for the Hornets
were not on the team the last time the team had a game in the

Another big change is the record. The Hornets are 10-13. Last
year, they played 50 games before they won their 10th.

The Suns held a one-point lead briefly in the first half, but
the Hornets quickly took charge, going up 50-43 at halftime. New
Orleans, which led by 15 points in the third quarter, looked as if
it would give the small -- 7,302 -- but enthusiastic crowd a victory,
leading 78-64 going into the final period.

But Phoenix rallied, taking an 85-84 lead with 5:37 remaining.
The Suns outscored the Hornets 18-4 down the stretch. House hit
four 3-pointers during the run, including a pair of 25-footers.

"You hope sooner or later these young guys will get it,"
Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "When you have a lead like that
you can't come out in the fourth quarter and think the game is

The Hornets scored only four points in the last 4:12, two free
throws by Brown and a tipped shot by Desmond Mason.

Phoenix entered the game leading the NBA in scoring with an
average of 102.7 per game. But after winning a league-best nine
straight games, the Suns lost four in a row and had scored less
than 100 points in four straight.

"It feels good to get the show on the road," House said.
"Coming back to win the way we did showed a lot of character."

Game Notes
All six of the Hornets' scheduled games in Baton Rouge
will be against Western Conference opponents ... New Orleans'
Monday night victory at Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak
against the Suns ... The cost of repairs to the New Orleans Arena
has been estimated at $12 million with a tentative completion date
in March.