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West, Paul guide Hornets past slumping Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Pretty soon it's going to be time to stop
referring to New Orleans as the surprising Hornets. They're
certainly not surprising themselves.

David West had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Paul added 16
points and 13 assists, and the surging Hornets broke open a tight
game in the third quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 95-81
Wednesday night.

"We feel like we can compete. We're just going to keep
playing," West said after the Hornets (21-11) won for the sixth
time in seven games and raised their road record to 12-5.

"Our team is staying healthy," Paul said. "We're confident,
we're winning, we're sticking to our game plan night in and night
out."

Peja Stojakovic scored 16 points and Tyson Chandler had 14
points and 15 rebounds for the Hornets, who outrebounded the
Clippers 46-33 and made 25 of 27 foul shots.

"We're doing some real good things on both ends of the floor,"
Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "I don't think we're playing our
best ball. From a coaching standpoint, you can always do better."

It would have been difficult to do much better than New Orleans
did in defending the Clippers' Chris Kaman, third in the NBA in
double-doubles, rebounds and blocked shots. With Chandler leading
the way, the Hornets held Kaman to nine points, 11 rebounds, five
assists and three blocks.

"We talked about Chris Kaman very seriously," Scott said.
"Tyson Chandler had a challenge on his hands with him and we had
to challenge him as a team. I thought we did a great job in closing
down the lanes and not allowing him to dominate the boards
offensively as well."

Kaman shot just 1-for-10.

"We took every post-up away, made them shoot jump shots,"
Chandler said. "We had a good defensive strategy tonight, keeping
him away from what he's comfortable doing."

Kaman said he didn't have much room to maneuver when he got the
ball.

"I tried to pass and find my teammates and tried to shoot the
ball when I had the opportunities, but it just didn't go down
tonight," he said. "We're losing, and people are frustrated. And
they should be. That's all part of losing. We've just got to stick
together, keep playing."

Corey Maggette had 20 points and six rebounds to lead the
short-handed Clippers (10-20), who have lost eight of their past
nine home games and seven of their past eight overall. Rookie Al Thornton added 15 points, Cuttino Mobley scored 13 and Brevin Knight had 12 points, seven assists and four steals.

Stojakovic shot 1-for-8 before making three straight 3-pointers
to trigger a 24-5 run that gave New Orleans a 69-52 lead, and the
Clippers weren't closer than 11 points after that. It was 71-58
entering the fourth quarter.

"Defensively, for the most part, we were pretty good,"
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Overall the big difference in
the game was at the free-throw line. We didn't get there and they
did, and that hurts."

The Clippers outscored New Orleans 16-4 in the final 4:45 of the
second quarter to tie the game 41-all at halftime, and led three
times early in the third period before the Hornets took command.

"We let them back in the game in the second quarter," Paul
said. "In the end, we imposed our will, defensively most of all.
We did a good job trapping Chris Kaman. That was the key to it."

The Hornets went on a 15-2 run to finish the first quarter and
start the second for a 29-16 lead. New Orleans didn't commit a foul
or a turnover in the first period, and didn't have a foul until
West was called for charging with 7:26 left before halftime.

Paul's selection as Western Conference player of the month for
December was announced earlier Wednesday. The third-year pro
averaged 24.5 points, 10.4 assists and 3.0 steals to lead the
Hornets to a 9-5 record last month.

"I think it's fantastic," Scott said. "It shows he's come a
long way. He's a coach's dream."

Game notes
The last Hornet to win a conference player of the month
award was Jamaal Magloire in the 2003-04 season. ... Clippers F Tim Thomas missed his fourth game due to a sore left knee, and teammate
Aaron Williams sat out his eighth with a sprained left wrist. ...
Scott made good on a pregame promise to shorten his bench, using
only eight players. "Right now, they're playing awful," he said
of his reserves. "We've got about three or four guys playing good
basketball." ... After getting only 14 double-doubles last season,
Kaman already has 24 this season. ... The Hornets have won three
straight games over the Clippers at Staples Center and four in a
row overall.