Butler's season-high 27 help Hornets drop Clips

NEW ORLEANS -- Rasual Butler keeps putting his bench-warming days of last season further behind him.

Butler scored a season-high 27 points, and the New Orleans Hornets handed the Los Angeles Clippers their 10th straight loss, 107-80 on Friday night.

Relegated to the end of the bench for much of last season, Butler said he approached his summer workouts with renewed commitment. It began to show when coach Byron Scott inserted him into the starting lineup for then-injured Morris Peterson on Nov. 19.

"I worked harder this summer than I've ever worked," Butler said. "Last year was a great year for the team. It wasn't a great year for me personally, but that's fine. This is a team game. I was more upset that I wasn't able to contribute to the success we had last season and I was just dedicated to doing that."

Butler hit six 3-pointers against the Clippers, also a season high, in what was his 23rd straight start. The Hornets combined for 11 3s in all and had seven players score in double figures.

Tyson Chandler had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, dunking three times on alley-oop feeds from Chris Paul. James Posey had 16 points and Paul, who played only 29 minutes, had 10.

"They were hot from the start, hitting 3s early and that was a big difference," Clippers guard Eric Gordon said.

Gordon and Mardy Collins each scored 15 points for the Clippers, who have lost their last eight meetings with New Orleans. Marcus Camby had 13 points and 17 rebounds.

The injury-plagued Clippers played without Baron Davis (bruised tailbone), Chris Kaman (foot) and Zach Randolph (left knee), as they did a night earlier in a 106-84 loss in San Antonio.

Los Angeles (8-27) led only once by two points in the opening minutes and was down by double digits for much of the last three quarters.

"We had good effort but we played last night and the back-to-back games get tough on you," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We're playing only seven or eight guys. ... The Hornets are playing well together and Chris Paul is Chris Paul. Every year he's going to be in the conversation for MVP."

Steve Novak had 14 points for the Clippers, while Al Thornton and Brian Skinner each scored 11.

David West and Peja Stojakovic each scored 12 points for New Orleans (22-11), while reserve point guard Antonio Daniels added 10, his highest total since coming to the Hornets in a trade from Washington this season.

Butler's two 3s and another 3 by Posey highlighted a 14-3 run to close out the third quarter, after which New Orleans led 87-67. With Los Angeles showing no sign of threatening, Scott sat Paul for all but two minutes of the final quarter. Paul finished with seven assists, five rebounds and three steals, only the eighth time this season he's failed to hit double figures in at least two statistical categories.

Butler hit four 3s in the opening quarter and added a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the period to give New Orleans a 32-23 lead.

"Sual's definitely a lot more focused," Paul said. "You always see him in the gym shooting. He understands he's a huge key to this team in order for us to win and even get back to the playoffs.

"I'm always happy to see Sual do well," Paul added. "He deserves it."

Posey hit a pair of 3s, a tough turnaround jumper and also scored inside as he was fouled in the second quarter, giving the Hornets the bench production they've been seeking. In the process, New Orleans built a lead as large as 18 points and outscored Los Angeles 30-26 in the period, ending a streak of 12 games in which the Hornets had been outscored in the second quarter.

Novak prevented the Clippers' deficit from getting even worse, hitting four 3-pointers in the period, his last cutting the Hornets' lead to 60-47. New Orleans led 62-49 at halftime.

Game notes
Dunleavy was assessed a technical foul in the second quarter for arguing with officials. ... The Clippers haven't won in New Orleans since April 20, 2005, before Hurricane Katrina displaced the Hornets to Oklahoma City for most of the next two seasons. ... Gordon, who was 6-of-13 shooting, came up short of the 20-point mark for the first time in seven games. ... The Hornets are 19-1 when leading after three quarters.