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Stojakovic's 23 help Hornets easily beat up on Sonics

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Hornets coach Byron Scott is campaigning for Chris Paul, David West and Tyson Chandler to make the NBA All-Star Game next month in New Orleans.

His players can return the favor by winning enough to put Scott in the midseason extravaganza as well, and right now, they're pretty close to pulling it off.

Paul, West and Chandler all had double-doubles, and Peja Stojakovic scored 23 points to help New Orleans roll past the Seattle SuperSonics 123-92 on Wednesday night.

The victory was New Orleans' third straight and ninth in 11 games, leaving the Hornets (26-12) tied with Dallas and Phoenix for third-best record in the Western Conference, only a half game behind the Los Angeles Lakers and only percentage points behind San Antonio.

"This is the time to do it," Paul said, referring to the Hornets' current five-game home stand, which has four games left. "As long as we win games, that gives us an opportunity to put our coaches in the All-Star Game."

Paul had 12 points and 11 assists, while Chandler had 14 points and 21 rebounds. It was the 12th time they had double-doubles in the same game this season, and New Orleans has won all of those games.

West finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Hornets improved to 19-3 against teams with losing records at the time of the matchup.

"We are earning the right to look at games as games we should win," Scott said. "No disrespect to those teams, but we just feel we are a better basketball team than a lot of other teams right now and we play a better team game. There is nothing wrong with us having a little confidence in ourselves."

Kevin Durant led Seattle with 20 points, while Earl Watson added 17 and 11 assists for the Sonics, who've lost eight straight and 10 of 11 games. Seattle was simply overmatched in falling 20 games below .500 (9-29).

"We were playing a really good team on a night when they were playing really well," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We didn't come close to matching New Orleans' intensity. They played more aggressively and they deserved to win the game."

New Orleans hit 12 3-pointers as a team, four by Stojakovic.

"We had great intensity, focus on the defensive end and the whole team made shots," Stojakovic said. "When we move the ball and get everybody involved, we're a much better team. It's much harder to guard us."

Reserve guard Bobby Jackson hit three 3s, making him 10-of-11 from that distance in his last two home games. He finished with 13 points and fellow reserve guard Jannero Pargo scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three 3s of his own.

New Orleans' reserves, playing most of the fourth quarter, finished with 52 points.

"If we can get two or three [reserves] playing well at the same time, we will be a very tough team to beat," Pargo said.

The Hornets dominated most categories, outrebounding Seattle 53-41 and outshooting the Sonics 51.6 percent to 43 percent. The Hornets had a 52-42 advantage on points inside and their 13 offensive rebounds helped produce a 20-9 margin on second-chance points.

Wally Szczerbiak had 14 points and Kurt Thomas 12 for Seattle, but the Sonics fell behind by too much early on to climb back into the game.

Seattle opened the second half on an 11-2 run, capped by Durant's fast-break dunk and Watson's fast-break layup as he was fouled. But that only trimmed the score to 67-57.

Nick Collison's baseline jumper briefly got Seattle as close as 69-61. Then Paul hit a driving layup, Stojakovic nailed a 3 and Chandler scored on an inside feed from Paul to swing the momentum back New Orleans' way.

The Hornets then closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run highlighted by Stojakovic's 3 and Chandler's alley-oop dunk of Paul's lob to go ahead 95-75 heading into the final period.

"We definitely got off to a slow start and we couldn't recover," Seattle forward Chris Wilcox said. "It made a big difference down the stretch."

New Orleans used swarming defense and strong rebounding to take a 14-point lead in the first quarter. The Sonics shot only 27.3 percent for the period, while Chandler had 10 rebounds during that span.

In the second quarter, Stojakovic made a 3 pointer and all seven of his free throws, and the Hornets jumped out to a 21-point lead on Paul's floater in the lane with about a minute left in the second quarter.

Thomas' free throws made it 65-46 at halftime.

Game notes
Chandler's 16th rebound with a little under 4 minutes left in the second quarter set a Hornets' franchise record for rebounds in a half. ... New Orleans is 3-0 against Seattle this season. ... The teams leading their conferences on Feb. 3 will get their coaches the nod for the All-Star Game unless those teams' staffs coached the game last year. In that case the next best teams' coaches go. Phoenix's staff coached the West last season.


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