Hornets keep Cleveland at bay


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Even on an off-shooting night, the New
Orleans Hornets had little trouble with a Cleveland Cavaliers' team
that was missing two of its top scorers.

New Orleans shot only 38.8 percent, but Baron Davis scored 26
points and David Wesley had 21 against former coach Paul Silas in
the Hornets' 82-72 victory Wednesday night.

The Cavs played without Ricky Davis, who was benched, and Carlos
Boozer, who has a sprained right ankle.

"We just didn't have enough firepower in there ... but it's not
bad to make this kind of showing without those two guys," Silas
said. "When they come back, we'll be a better ball club."

The Hornets, coming off a loss a night earlier in Miami, held a
double-digit lead most of the second half despite stints of sloppy
play and 16 turnovers.

"I thought it was ugly," Baron Davis said. "We were fatigued
a bit at the end. That's what usually happens in back-to-back
(games). The mental focus was difficult to maintain at times."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting to lead
Cleveland, losers of 30 straight road games dating to last season.
LeBron James struggled for his 15 points, but did have nine assists
and eight rebounds.

James dunked on a fast break early in the game for his first
points but didn't hit an outside shot until the 4:38 mark of the
third quarter. He was 5-of-17 from the field, with two of his
baskets coming in the final minutes.

"I didn't shoot well but I think I contributed in other ways,"
James said. "I just didn't concentrate."

James was guarded by Baron Davis, an aggressive defender and one
of the league leaders in steals with 46. Davis only had one steal
on James, but it allowed Davis to dribble in alone for an emphatic
one-handed dunk.

Silas called Davis, now in his fifth season, "the best
point-guard in basketball right now."

"He's got total command of his game," Silas said of the player
he coached the previous four seasons. "It took him some time, but
he's got it."

Cleveland's Jason Kapono had 14 points, including three
3-pointers, one at the first-quarter buzzer that gave the Cavs an
early 23-22 lead.

Silas benched Ricky Davis despite inviting him to join the team
in New Orleans. Silas had kept Davis out of practice earlier in the
week for unspecified "issues" and initially said Davis would not
make the trip to New Orleans.

Without him and Boozer, Cleveland shot 33.7 percent.

"Cleveland still is not a good team," Wesley said. "They
really don't have a whole lot of shooters. We basically tried to
crowd the middle, make them kick to their shooters and see if they
would make" their shots.

The Cavs also were without Ira Newble, who was suspended by the
team for one game because of an argument he had with Silas after
the Cavs' loss in Atlanta last Saturday.

Game notes
Silas said Ricky Davis would practice Thursday and play
against Detroit on Friday. ... Silas said he was happy to be back
in New Orleans, where he has a kept a home. Tuesday night, Silas
had dinner with a city councilman and said he had met with a number
of friends and checked on his house. "It's like coming home,"
said Silas, whose pregame introduction drew brief but enthusiastic
applause before it was drowned out by music that accompanies the
Hornets' introductions.