Hornets win fourth straight, reach .500 with win over Grizz

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- David West's shot wasn't falling, so he
made up for it with his rebounds.

West had 10 of his 12 points and seven of his 14 boards in the
fourth quarter and New Orleans beat the Memphis Grizzlies 87-79 on
Wednesday night to surpass its win total from last season.

West, the Hornets' leading scorer with a 16.9-point average,
started the game 1-for-8 from the field and had only two points at
the start of the fourth quarter. He continued to struggle with his
shot, but had three rebound putbacks down the stretch as the
Hornets sealed the win.

"I was just staying aggressive, just out there fighting, having
a knack for the basketball," said West, who finished 6-for-18.
"We needed baskets."

The Hornets won their fourth straight game for the first time
since December 2003. They also evened their record at 19-19.

"We just want to keep improving. Every game, every situation
we're in, we want to bring that effort and bring that energy,"
West said. "We're not looking at a number. We just want to keep

The Hornets, who were 18-64 last season, are one game behind
Denver for eighth place in the Western Conference.

"It's not an achievement. It's what we expected," Scott said.
"We've gotten to .500. Now this team is trying to keep going and
get over it. ...

"We've got a bunch of young guys. We've got a lot of guys that
weren't on this team last year, so they didn't experience the type
of season that we had last year."

Mike Miller scored 21 points to lead Memphis, which has lost
three games in a row for the second time this season. Bobby Jackson
added 13 points, Shane Battier had 10 and Pau Gasol, the Grizzlies'
top scorer with 19.9 points per game, finished with nine.

"They double-teamed me almost every time I got the ball,"
Gasol said. "Obviously, I'd like to have a better shooting night,
but give their defense credit."

Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello said the offensive rebounds
"turned the game around."

"I think he understood his shot wasn't falling like it normally
does, but he did a heck of a job on the boards," Scott said.
"When he did shoot it, he went and got it. He just made some
big-time putbacks to really help us win this game."

Scott said he told West to stay aggressive and keep shooting.

"He threw me back out there and said, `We're going to need some
plays from you.' I still missed a couple, but we did get the
stickbacks," West said.

Speedy Claxton gave the Hornets a 69-67 lead when he cut into
the lane, took a pass from Chris Paul and converted a layup. West
followed with a jumper from the left side for only his second
basket of the game and then stretched the lead to six points when
his third tip-in try went down.

"He was like Rodman and the Matrix (Shawn Marion) down there,"
Hornets center P.J. Brown said. "He couldn't get the first one,
but he'd get the second and third ones."

Miller responded with a 3-pointer from the left wing for the
Grizzlies, but West again put back his own miss for a 75-70 lead.

Battier's tip-in pulled Memphis within a point, but West again
had an answer with a jumper from the right side for a 77-74 lead.
He put back his own miss again the next time down to maintain New
Orleans' three-point lead.

Jackson had two chances to tie the game with 3-pointers from the
left side before Paul's 3 from the right wing extended New Orleans'
lead to 82-76. Claxton hit three free throws and Paul had two more
to keep the Hornets in control.

Paul finished with 16 points and nine assists, Brown scored 15
and Claxton added 14 points and eight assists.

"It feels good but I'm not over-excited. I want to keep
winning. I want to keep this win streak going," Brown said. "It's
just important to keep winning right now. I'm kind of glad we're
past this 18 (wins) and .500. Now it's about getting over .500 and
staying over .500. That's what I'll be looking for and I think
we've got a chance to do that."

Game notes
Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright missed the game with a
bruised left knee. Guard Dahntay Jones started in his place as the
Grizzlies used a smaller lineup. ... The game was originally
scheduled in Baton Rouge, La., but was moved to the Ford Center
after poor turnout at a December game in Baton Rouge. Three other
Baton Rouge games in March were moved to New Orleans.