OAKLAND, Calif. -- The New Orleans Hornets have used their successful month to take hold of eighth place in the talented Western Conference, a key step for this improving franchise.
"We know how difficult it will be, especially with our upcoming schedule," Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. "We're playing many of the same teams we're battling, so it's a situation where we've taken a step forward now with that and we want to remain there and take another step. But we're going to have to continue to improve in order to do that."
With Paul leading the way, things seem headed in the right direction.
Paul shot 14 for 19 from the field, made all nine of his free-throw tries, dished out nine assists, grabbed six rebounds and made three steals. Marcus Thornton added 18 points, David West 17 points and 12 rebounds and Emeka Okafor had 12 points and 12 boards for the Hornets, who are 11-4 in January and won three of four on this road trip.
They fell behind 11-0 against Golden State before getting back in the game.
"This was a big trip for us. We won in some tough venues," Paul said. "Everyone knows the road has been our Achilles' heel so far. "
Monta Ellis returned for Golden State after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle and had 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds -- but also five turnovers. He had been averaging 30.7 points over his previous 16 outings.
"I don't know if it was the ankle. After a couple games off, he just looked rusty to me," coach Don Nelson said. "He made a lot of unforced turnovers."
Stephen Curry had 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds and C.J. Watson scored 17 of his season-high 23 points in the first half for the Warriors, who looked sluggish for much of the night playing the second game of a back-to-back. Many of the 16,308 fans in attendance started making for the exits midway through the fourth quarter.
Corey Maggette scored 14 a night after he was both whistled for a costly technical in the waning seconds and yelled and pointed angrily at Nelson in the Warriors' 99-96 loss at Sacramento. Maggette struggled mightily Tuesday, missing his first 15 shots before making a jumper in the fourth quarter. He shot 3 of 22 overall.
He went 5 for 13 Wednesday for Golden State, which tried to rally in the fourth quarter but was too late after falling behind by as many as 24. The Warriors lost their third straight, fourth in five and seventh in the last nine.
"We didn't knock down shots," said Ellis, who insists his ankle is much better. "Everything felt normal to me. We just had a bad night."
The Hornets made it a season sweep of Golden State after also beating the Warriors 108-102 at home on Dec. 23 for their first game with 100 or more points in more than a month.
Next up for the Warriors is at meeting with former disgruntled swingman Stephen Jackson, who returns to Oracle Arena for the first time with the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. Jackson demanded a trade before the season and finally got his wish in November.
"I'll be looking forward to seeing him," Nelson said. "He's a good friend. We split company and it had nothing to do our friendship. I'm not surprised at all (he's doing so well). He's a heck of a basketball player."
Jackson helped the Warriors end a 13-year drought with their 2007 run to the second round of the playoffs.
Curry's father, Dell, will broadcast the game for the Bobcats.
New Orleans improved to 2-4 on the road against the Pacific Division and 9-16 away from home overall.
Paul committed seven turnovers. ... Curry was named to the All Star Game's Rookie Challenge on Wednesday. ... The Hornets had been outrebounded in seven of their previous nine games (442-382) but held a 46-31 advantage over the Warriors. "We gave up the rebound game," Nelson said. ... Golden State signed F Anthony Tolliver to a second and final 10-day contract. He scored 11 points off the bench. ... Hornets reserve F James Posey strained his right Achilles' tendon in the second quarter and didn't return. ... All five Warriors starters scored in double figures for the first time since Nov. 17 at Cleveland.
Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combine for 71 points as the Cavaliers go up 31 points at the half and rout the Raptors 116-78.
After the Raptors' Game 5 loss to the Cavaliers, Stephen A. Smith has some harsh criticism for Toronto, saying, "It was one of the most pathetic performances that I've ever seen in my life."
The Cleveland Cavaliers vaporized the Toronto Raptors in Game 5, smothering the Canadian backcourt to take a 3-2 series lead in the East finals.