NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks finally got off to a good start, then were even better at the finish.
David Lee scored a season-high 28 points, Al Harrington had 13 of his 24 in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks earned their first victory of the season by beating the New Orleans Hornets 117-111 on Monday night.
Chris Duhon finished with 18 points and nine assists for the Knicks (1-3), who were off to their worst start since dropping their first five games in 2005-06. But they played from ahead this time after facing huge deficits in their previous games, then pulled away midway through the fourth quarter.
"I thought they showed character. They battled back," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "To get that first win, it gets a little hairy. I'm just encouraged as a whole, the whole game."
Larry Hughes added 20 points in his first start of the season after he didn't even play in the first two games. It was New York's second straight lineup change and third of the season, and perhaps D'Antoni finally found one he can stick with.
Chris Paul had season highs of 32 points and 13 assists for the Hornets, who were coming off a loss in Boston on Sunday night. Emeka Okafor added 24 points, his best game with New Orleans, and grabbed 10 rebounds. David West scored 21 points.
"We had a lot of momentum actually going into the fourth and we couldn't get stops. It's simple as that," Paul said. "We played a pretty good game but our biggest issue right now is we can't stop anybody."
Harrington was moved to the bench in the previous lineup change despite being the Knicks' leading scorer. He scored a career-high 42 points Saturday in an overtime loss to Philadelphia, then made key plays on both ends of this one to help New York seize control in the fourth.
New York led only 92-90 after a 3-pointer by Paul before Harrington and Lee sparked a decisive 10-2 run. Lee had a pair of baskets in the spurt and Harrington added a jumper and two free throws as the Knicks opened a 102-92 lead with 4:08 remaining.
Harrington's two free throws came after he came up with a loose ball in a scramble after a New Orleans turnover. Paul appeared to hit him in the head while they were on the floor fighting for the ball, but Harrington was able to maintain possession.
"When I dove, my head hit his knee," Harrington said. "He might have slipped a couple of jabs in there. It didn't affect me. You know I fight in the summer, so it's all good."
Harrington also blocked Paul's shot on a drive to the basket with about three minutes left.
"We had our opportunities and we just kind of blew it," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "They came out the fourth quarter a lot more aggressive than we did, kind of took it to us and it just had that snowball effect. It just kept going."
The Knicks, who were outscored 72-38 in their last two first quarters, got off to a good start this time. Hughes scored eight points in eight minutes and New York led by 10 before settling for a 31-24 advantage.
"Our only plan was to come out and get out to a good start, whether that was doing it on the offensive end or defensive end," Hughes said. "We had no real game plan as far as doing it on the offensive or doing it on the defense. We just wanted to get off to a good start."
New York pushed the lead to 12 on Harrington's 3-pointer early in the second, but the Hornets scored 11 straight to cut it to 38-37, and the Knicks led 58-52 at halftime.
The Knicks quickly regained a double-digit advantage, before Paul and Okafor controlled the middle of the third quarter. Paul's 3-pointer gave the Hornets a 75-73 lead, their first since the opening minutes, and he hit another jumper to end the period and send New Orleans to the fourth up 81-77.
- Paul denied on his Twitter page that he ever came close to the Celtics' locker room after Sunday's game. Paul pursued Rajon Rondo toward the Boston side after the Hornets' loss. "I think there comes a point in time in a game or even after a game when somebody says something to you, and the only thing I heard Chris say at the end of the game when we were walking off was that, 'he's going to respect me as a man,"' Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "So I don't know what Rondo said, but obviously Chris took exception to it." The NBA is reviewing the incident.
- Knicks G Nate Robinson could miss two weeks after spraining his right ankle in Saturday's loss to Philadelphia. X-rays taken Monday night were negative.
- Knicks F Jared Jeffries needed three more stitches above his right eye after he was fouled late in the third quarter on a drive to the basket.