Hornets find late rhythm behind Paul to shock Suns

PHOENIX (AP) -- Chris Paul had a simple request for coach Byron Scott.

"I said, 'Coach, let me play the whole game,' " Paul said after going all 48 minutes and sparking the New Orleans Hornets to a comeback 118-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Paul had 28 points -- including 14 in the fourth quarter -- and 10 assists, helping to end the Suns' four-game winning streak.

At first, Scott was reluctant to allow Paul to go the distance.

"He said, 'You'll need a break,' " Paul said. But Paul convinced Scott that he could do it.

The win was the Hornets' 23rd of the season, tying Phoenix for the most in the Western Conference. It also ended the Suns' streak of 20 consecutive victories when leading entering the fourth quarter.

Paul called it the Hornets' biggest win of the season.

"We showed a lot of poise playing against one of the best teams in the West. Different guys stepped up all around and that's all we want," he said.

Peja Stojakovic added 23 points for the Hornets, Morris Peterson had 22, and Tyson Chandler and Jannero Pargo had 19 apiece. Chandler also had 11 rebounds.

Leandro Barbosa led Phoenix with 28 points, Steve Nash had 23 points and 11 assists, and Amare Stoudemire and Grant Hill each scored 17. Stoudemire's string of four straight 20-10 games ended.

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni lamented his team's poor play down the stretch.

"We didn't make the big plays," he said. "They made the big plays, big shots and big passes. They came up with big stops and big steals."

Before the game, Scott told his team that even if they didn't beat the Suns, they would have had a good road trip, having won their two previous games.

"It turned out to be a great road trip," Chandler said. "We showed a lot of courage in the second half."

Overall, the Hornets have won six consecutive road games, the longest streak since the team has been in New Orleans. They also have their best record in franchise history (23-11).

New Orleans took the lead for good, 110-107, on a 3-pointer by Paul with 3:03 remaining. After Barbosa drove the lane for a basket, Paul followed with another drive, and the Hornets led by at least three points the rest of the way. The Hornets' biggest deficit was 78-65, with 8:19 left in the third quarter.

The Hornets were missing one of their key players, forward David West. The team's second-leading scorer (19.4) and rebounder (9.4) was sidelined with a bruised left hip, sustained during Friday night's game against the Golden State Warriors. Pargo started in his place.

Chandler heaped praise on both Paul and Pargo.

"With DW out, that put the onus on them to make shots -- and they did it," Chandler said.

Said Pargo: "I just stepped up and met the challenge."

Phoenix also lost one of its starters early, when Raja Bell left the game 2:36 into the first period with flu symptoms. He was eventually sent home.

"I felt we had pretty good control of the game for three quarters," Nash said. "Then, we just lost control down the stretch."

Both teams got major contributions from their respective replacements in the first half.

Barbosa took over for Bell and scored 14 points in the first quarter, keeping the Suns close as New Orleans took a 34-31 lead. He finished the half with 16 points as Phoenix rallied for a 68-57 advantage.

Nash triggered the Suns' second-period surge, scoring 14 points, and by halftime he had 21, hitting 8-of-10 field goal attempts. The league leader in assists, Nash had six.

Seldom-used Marcus Banks also gave the Suns a huge lift, hitting three straight 3-pointers. Overall, the Suns' reserves outscored the Hornets' subs 30-3 in the first half.

In a rare occurrence, all five New Orleans starters were in double figures by halftime, led by Paul's 12. Pargo took only five shots, hitting four, and had 10 points.

After three quarters, New Orleans narrowed the deficit to three points, 93-90, with the help of 10 points by Stojakovic. Hill scored 10 points in the period for the Suns.

Game notes
The Hornets won the season opener between the teams, 101-98, at New Orleans on Dec. 15. ... West had scored 20 or more points in seven consecutive games. ... The Suns' 37 points in the second period were a season high.