NEW ORLEANS -- More than a million residents have returned to the New Orleans metro area since Hurricane Katrina, and many of them are missing some high-powered, winning basketball being played by the NBA franchise that recently came back as well.
Chris Paul scored 19 points and Peja Stojakovic added 18 as sharp-shooting New Orleans beat the Portland Trail Blazers 113-93 on Friday night for the Hornets' second lopsided victory in two games.
But only 9,817 showed up in the 17,956-seat New Orleans Arena, the Hornets' smallest announced crowd there since they moved from Charlotte in 2002. Never mind the more than 225,000 residents of an affluent suburb who can't see the games on TV because of stalled negotiations between cable companies.
Still, it's early, and Paul thinks the fans will come back as the season progresses.
"We feed off the crowd, and I think as long as we keep winning, we'll draw more and more fans," Paul said.
Seven players hit double figures for the Hornets, who drained 11 3-pointers in a victory that wasn't in doubt from midway through the third quarter on.
David West and Bobby Jackson each scored 14 points for New Orleans. Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Rasual Butler scored 11 points and Jannero Pargo 10.
The Hornets did not hesitate to take quick 3-pointers when they were open, and it paid off. Butler hit three of them, Stojakovic two and Paul another in the third quarter as New Orleans opened an 87-64 lead heading into the final period.
"The shots we took from outside were really good shots -- shots in rhythm after we moved the ball. If you play right, you're going to have that," Stojakovic said. "It's good to have a good start, but it's still a learning process for us. I really believe we have the potential to play even better."
With continued good shooting from outside and hustling defense until the end, New Orleans maintained a 20-point lead or better through most of the fourth quarter.
After scoring only seven points in Portland's opening-night loss at San Antonio, Brandon Roy led the Blazers with 23. James Jones added 14, scoring all but five in the fourth quarter, and Martell Webster scored 13.
New Orleans shot 56 percent and outrebounded Portland 40-30.
"We didn't play well. They were the aggressors," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "When you leave the perimeter open against these guys, they have shooters who can knock down shots. ... They picked us apart."
Having won their opener 104-90 over Sacramento, the Hornets have played exciting, high-scoring basketball through their first two outings since moving back to New Orleans full time from Oklahoma City, where they played most of their games for two seasons after Katrina.
Those who turned out to see Friday's game were lively and got a good show, particularly when Chandler crashed hard to the floor in the second quarter on a drive to the basket during which Jones hit him across the face with a forearm. Chandler had a bloody nose, but after a short delay while he received treatment under the basket, he shot his free throws with cotton hanging out of one nostril.
With Stojakovic grinning at him from the edge of the lane, Chandler made both foul shots, then went to the bench to enthusiastic applause.
Chandler had to change his jersey twice, limiting his playing time, because of blood stains.
"I got hit in the nose. I got bit one time. It got pretty wild," Chandler said. "They had to come in and actually wash one of my jerseys and throw it in the dryer real quick before they could get me out. I didn't want to be out of the game. I wanted to play. that was really the only frustrating thing in the game."
Hornets first-round draft pick Julian Wright saw the first regular-season playing time of his NBA career in the second quarter and hit his first shot, a short jumper in the lane ... Blazers second-round pick, former Florida star Taurean Green, saw his first regular-season action during the last couple minutes of the game and score three points. ... Former Hornets player and Louisiana native P.J. Brown, who lives in the New Orleans suburb of Slidell, was in the audience and received one of the loudest cheers of the night when he was shown on the scoreboard video screen. Brown's home was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. He's living there again, but said some minor storm repairs remain unfinished. Brown, 38, and a free agent, said he is still considering playing this season if the right offer comes along.
|New Orleans (2-0) «||31||26||30||26||113|
|POR:B. Roy 23 Pts
POR:L. Aldridge 9 Reb
POR:J. Jack 5 Ast
|NO:C. Paul 19 Pts
NO:T. Chandler 11 Reb
NO:C. Paul 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|L. Aldridge, PF||34||4-12||0-2||9||0||2||8|
|B. Roy, SG||33||10-15||2-2||1||3||1||23|
|M. Webster, SG||32||4-10||4-4||2||4||1||13|
|J. Jack, PG||20||0-4||0-0||2||5||1||0|
|J. Przybilla, C||15||1-5||0-0||4||0||5||2|
|S. Blake, PG||28||2-4||0-0||1||2||1||4|
|T. Outlaw, SF||24||4-10||0-0||3||3||1||8|
|C. Frye, PF||20||3-7||0-0||5||3||4||6|
|J. Jones, SF||16||6-7||0-0||0||0||1||14|
|S. Rodriguez, PG||12||3-5||1-2||2||2||1||8|
|R. LaFrentz, PF||2||2-3||0-0||0||0||0||4|
|T. Green, PG||2||1-1||0-0||1||1||0||3|
|D. Miles, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. McRoberts, PF||Did Not Play|
|G. Oden, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|P. Stojakovic, SG||32||7-17||0-0||6||3||0||18|
|T. Chandler, C||28||2-2||6-6||11||1||2||10|
|M. Peterson, SG||27||3-5||0-0||3||3||0||7|
|D. West, PF||26||6-9||2-2||2||0||1||14|
|C. Paul, PG||26||9-12||0-0||3||6||3||19|
|M. Ely, C||20||1-3||1-2||3||1||4||3|
|B. Jackson, PG||18||6-9||0-0||3||2||2||14|
|R. Butler, SG||16||4-9||0-0||1||1||1||11|
|H. Armstrong, PF||16||1-2||0-0||5||1||3||2|
|R. Bowen, SF||11||0-1||1-2||0||1||3||1|
|J. Wright, SF||11||1-1||2-2||3||1||1||4|
|J. Pargo, PG||9||4-8||2-2||0||1||0||10|
|M. Vinicius, SF||Did Not Play|
|A. Haluska, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|