It won't be long, if New Orleans continues to play like it did Saturday night.
The Hornets won their eighth straight game and lead the Suns by half a game, the Mavericks by 1½, and the Spurs by 2½ games.
"The whole thing about this team is 'Oh, can they beat the big teams?'" Chandler said. "We've shown we can beat all of these teams and we deserve some respect."
Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists for New Orleans.
"We feel like ... going into every game we're going to win. We don't feel like we're the underdogs," Paul said. "It was a really big win for us."
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Spurs, who head out on a nine-game trip starting Monday.
"We were going the right way" before Saturday's game, Parker said. "We were playing good basketball. We won in Charlotte, then L.A., and then in Miami, and that was a tough back-to-back. We just have to refocus and that's it."
The Hornets outscored the Spurs 60-35 in the second half, when they took control of the game and grabbed the lead for good.
West said the team has been aiming for a big win.
"We've been building toward this -- in terms of closing the gap on these better Western Conference teams. And we've been able to do that," West said. "We felt like if we could come in here and play a solid game defensively, we'd have an opportunity to win."
The Spurs were up one heading into the third quarter and held a 59-58 lead with 5:50 to play in the period.
Then the Hornets, behind West, went on a 14-5 run to close the period and take a 72-64 lead with one quarter to play.
"West was really the killer. He was the monster," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He was impossible for us to guard."
The burst gave the Hornets, who shot 54 percent (44-of-81), the lead for good.
"New Orleans was great. Tip your hat to them," Popovich said. "We hung for a half and lost our juice, but that was due to their great play. You can see why they have the best record in the West."
The Hornets capitalized on their momentum in the fourth and the Spurs couldn't find their rhythm. New Orleans went up by 20 points, 86-66, off of Ryan Bowen's fast-break layup off a pass from Paul with 7:33 to play.
Paul's jumper gave the Hornets a 25-point lead with about 4½ minutes to play. They went up by 26 off Stojakovic's 3 with 3:55 on the clock.
The game was plenty physical. Among the scraps, Chandler appeared to hurt his nose when he got caught up with Ginobili, who was driving to the basket and also crashed to the floor with him, late in the second quarter. Chandler left the court holding a towel to his nose but returned for the third quarter.
As has been the case in recent games, the Spurs were outrebounded early by the Hornets, who had a 22-17 advantage off the glass at halftime. The Hornets finished with a 41-32 rebounding advantage.
The Spurs, with 12 points from Duncan and 4-of-4 shooting from Oberto, were up 43-42 at the break.
- Before the game, Duncan presented Hornets C-F Melvin Ely with his championship ring. Ely was with the Spurs last year for their title run. He signed with the Hornets in September.
- The Spurs said Friday that G Brent Barry will be out three to four weeks with a muscle strain in his left calf.
- The Hornets improved to 16-5 in away games, the best road record in the West.