Paul notches 18 assists, Hornets hit 15 3-pointers to drown Hawks

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Hornets were in a dancing mood.

A franchise record-tying 15 3-pointers and a double-digit victory at home will do that for a team.

Chris Paul had 23 points and 18 assists, and New Orleans won for the fourth time in five games, 116-101 over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Paul also got an assist of sorts on a crowd-pleasing moment in the fourth quarter, when he nudged rookie Julian Wright off the bench and urged him to dance on the court during a 12-minute delay to replace a broken net.

"Rookie hazing," Wright said of his gyrations, which were shown on the scoreboard video screen during a "dance cam" segment that normally focuses on fans.

The fans roared at more than Wright's dance moves. The seldom-used first-round draft choice had his best game so far, scoring a career-high 13 points, grabbing seven rebounds and delighting the crowd with his above-the-rim play, particularly when he soared in for a one-handed offensive rebound and in one motion threw down a roundhouse jam.

That was his best highlight, barely eclipsing his reverse alley-oop jam after Paul found him on a baseline cut.

"Coach is always telling me to trust my instincts and to go out there and have fun," Wright said. "That's how my game really is, being instinctive, and good things happen when I let the game come to me."

Wright played 22 minutes because starting forward David West sat out with a sore left ankle. Strong performances from a few reserves and most of their other starters helped New Orleans handily take their second straight victory.

Peja Stojakovic made seven 3-pointers and led all scorers with 29 points. Tyson Chandler threw down several alley-oop lobs from Paul and finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Reserve guard Jannero Pargo had 22 points.

"It was a great overall game. Everybody contributed. We looked good out there tonight," Chandler said. "The last couple of games we've played some good basketball. We had [West] go out and a lot of guys stepped up, so that's great to see."

Joe Johnson scored 24 points and Mike Bibby 21 for Atlanta, which got as close as 62-59 in the third quarter but couldn't keep pace with a New Orleans squad that kept hitting from long range.

Paul and Pargo each made three 3-pointers. Morris Peterson and Wright each made one.

"It's tough to overcome something like that. They made shots," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Chris Paul is phenomenal. He gets guys where they need to be offensively and they make plays off of him."

New Orleans built a 17-point lead late in the third quarter when Stojakovic hit a mid-range jumper and a 3 on back-to-back possessions. The Hornets maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Josh Smith and Josh Childress each had 12 points for the Hawks. Marvin Williams scored 11 and Al Horford grabbed 11 rebounds.

New Orleans took the lead for good in the first quarter.

Stojakovic's short baseline jumper ignited a 13-2 run that included Ryan Bowen's fast-break dunk and Wright's fast-break layup, both resulting from Hawks turnovers. Pargo capped it with a 3, giving New Orleans a 37-22 lead early in the second quarter.

In the second quarter, Paul added his third 3-pointer of the game. Stojakovic made two 3s, as well as a reverse layup while being fouled, and New Orleans led 58-49 at halftime.

"They were knocking shots down and when they weren't they were getting a lot of lobs over the top and backdoor cuts," Childress said. "They are a tough team to defend."

Game notes
In addition to West, the Hornets were without swingman Bonzi Wells, who missed his second straight game and fourth out of five with a bruised Achilles' tendon. ... Wright's dancing wasn't he only instance of fun on the court during the delay caused by the broken net. During a "kiss cam" segment, Childress stuck out his tongue with a wide-eyed look and leaned toward Chandler when the pair were shown standing next to each other near the scorer's table. ... The Hornets are 18-1 when Paul and Chandler each have double-doubles in the same game.