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Sacramento at New Orleans

Hornets tip off full-time return to New Orleans with win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW ORLEANS -- When Chris Paul reported for training camp, he declared that the Hornets had all the tools in place to make their full-time return to New Orleans a special one.

On opening night, at least, they were as good as advertised.

Paul had 22 points and 12 assists, while Peja Stojakovic showed some of his All-Star form of old with 19 points to help the Hornets beat the Sacramento Kings 104-90 on Wednesday night.

"I'm not going to say we're going to do that for 82 games, but to start it off like that is a great momentum boost," Paul said.

Tyson Chandler, fresh off a stint playing for the U.S. national team, had 15 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, and David West showed no signs of a recent ankle sprain in scoring 17.

Newly acquired shooting guard Morris Peterson chipped in with 13, including three 3-pointers.

"You have no clue how big of a smile I had on my face during that game," Paul said. "As a point guard, when you're getting into the lane, D-West is making shots, Tyson is there making everyone collapse and, most of all, Peja and Mo made my job tonight so easy. That's really going to open the court for us this season."

Stojakovic missed all but 13 games last season because of back surgery. New Orleans will need him to stay healthy this season, and he looked fine against his former team, playing 31 minutes and hitting four 3-pointers.

"It's the first game, 81 to go. I just wish we can all stay healthy, because then it's up to us," Stojakovic said. "Consistency, of course, is going to be a key."

Defensively, Sacramento missed Ron Artest, who is serving a seven-game suspension after pleading no contest to a charge related to domestic violence. With Mike Bibby out at least eight weeks after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, the Kings' offensive firepower was diminished as well.

"We have no depth," Reggie Theus said after his first game as coach of the Kings. "It is very frustrating to be short-handed. It's beyond frustrating, but we have no choice but to deal with it."

Kevin Martin led the Kings with 26 points. John Salmons scored 22, Francisco Garcia 17 and Brad Miller 12.

The Hornets took a double-digit lead in the first half and maintained it for most of the game. Paul controlled the tempo, hitting driving layups or passing out to open shooters as he penetrated into the lane.

"I told our guys that our problem would be Chris Paul getting in the lane, and that was our problem," Theus said. "He lived in the lane the whole time."

NBA commissioner David Stern was in New Orleans to announce a season-long, league-wide community service initiative in New Orleans that will include a day of service by players, coaches, team employees and their families two days before the NBA All-Star Game here on Feb. 17.

He also attended the game, the first of 41 regular-season contests the Hornets will play here in their first full season in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. The team spent most of the past two seasons in Oklahoma City, playing only nine regular-season games in the Big Easy during that time.

"Thank you, New Orleans, for having us back," Stern said to the crowd in brief comments shortly before tipoff, with Hornets majority owner George Shinn standing nearby. "Thank you to George Shinn and to the Hornets, who are committed to being part of the rebuilding of New Orleans. The NBA is committed to this in a way we think is going to have a significant contribution to the rebuilding effort."

Then Stern handed the microphone to Shinn, whose decision to leave behind big crowds in Oklahoma City and return to New Orleans has been questioned by a number of pro basketball observers.

"I'm tired of people criticizing us and pulling us down," Shinn said. "We believe in New Orleans."

Stern's and Shinn's comments drew the first rousing applause of the night, but certainly not the last. The Hornets took care of that with a hustling, all-court effort and excellent shooting.

The Hornets shot 59 percent through the first two quarters. Chandler and West each scored 13 points and Stojakovic hit two of the Hornets' five 3-pointers as New Orleans took a 57-42 halftime lead.

New Orleans shot 50.6 percent for the game, the second-best opening-night shooting performance in team history.

Notes

  • Kings G Quincy Douby left the game after running blindly into Chandler's screen while trying to chase Paul out of the backcourt. Douby went down holding his head and team officials said he had a mild concussion.
  • Actors Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser, stars of the New Orleans-based police drama K-Ville, sat a couple of rows behind the Hornets bench. They also got a chance to sit in on the radio broadcast in the fourth quarter, both yelling unintelligibly into their microphones during a Hornets fast break while longtime play-by-play announcer Bob Licht shook his head and laughed.
  • Attendance was announced at 15,188. A sellout at the New Orleans Arena is 17,956.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
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Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic score a combined 41 points as the host Hornets win their opener.  (AP)
Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic score a combined 41 points as the host Hornets win their opener. (AP)

Scoreboard
Sacramento (0-1) 2418192990
New Orleans (1-0) «29283017104
SAC:K. Martin 26 Pts
SAC:F. Garcia 6 Reb
SAC:J. Salmons 9 Ast
NO:C. Paul 22 Pts
NO:T. Chandler 13 Reb
NO:C. Paul 12 Ast
Players of the Game
New OrleansSacramento

C. Paul

J. Salmons
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
228122229
Sacramento
J. Salmons, SF4510-192-329222
K. Martin, SG407-1710-1232126
B. Miller, C326-130-052412
O. Greene, PG171-20-01142
K. Thomas, PF150-10-03030
F. Garcia, SF338-150-063217
M. Moore, PF211-41-14143
S. Abdur-Rahim, PF190-42-24252
Q. Douby, SG102-40-02114
D. Watkins, C101-20-04012
M. Bibby, PGDid Not Play
J. Williams, PFDid Not Play
S. Hawes, CDid Not Play
M. Shakur, CDid Not Play
Totals 36-8115-1834212790
 44.4%83.3% 
New Orleans
T. Chandler, C376-93-4130415
C. Paul, PG377-137-8812422
P. Stojakovic, SG317-121-110319
M. Peterson, SG315-80-001113
D. West, PF317-162-486417
B. Jackson, PG171-50-02202
R. Butler, SG173-50-00207
M. Ely, C172-60-06034
J. Pargo, PG111-22-20024
H. Armstrong, PF110-11-26031
R. Bowen, SFDid Not Play
M. Vinicius, SFDid Not Play
A. Haluska, SGDid Not Play
J. Wright, SFDid Not Play
Totals 39-7716-21442324104
 50.6%76.2% 
Other Games
Wash 110 Final
Ind 119
Mil 83 Final
Orl 102
Phi 97 Final
Tor 106
Chi 103 Final
NJ 112
Dal 92 Final
Cle 74
SA 104 Final
Mem 101
Sea 103 Final
Den 120