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Paul's double-double lifts streaking Hornets past Suns

NEW ORLEANS -- Peja Stojakovic fell backward onto the court, his legs splayed as his feet swung upward almost comically.

The quick fadeaway he'd just released swished through, the referee whistled the Suns for a defensive foul and the New Orleans Arena crowd roared.

It was the kind of flair for the dramatic the Hornets needed during a second-half surge that powered them to a 104-91 victory over the depleted but feisty Suns on Wednesday night.

"I don't even know if the guy touched him, but we'll take it," Chris Paul said of the shooting foul that allowed Stojakovic to add a three-point play the hard way to the five other 3s he nailed from the perimeter. "When he's shooting like that, we're almost unstoppable."

Stojakovic finished with 24 points, his sharp shooting opening the floor for the rest of his teammates, who took full advantage. Paul also scored 24 points to go with 15 assists for his 13th double-double of the young season. David West added 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Tyson Chandler narrowly missed a double-double of his own with 14 points and nine rebounds.

"We're capable of that every night. We've just got to defend and run," said Paul, who also had three steals. "We're not a half-court team. We're at our best when we're getting steals, getting out in transition and getting easy buckets."

Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 26 points, while Leandro Barbosa added 19 and Grant Hill 17. However, the Suns were unable to keep pace with guard Steve Nash sidelined because of an illness. Shaquille O'Neal also sat out for Phoenix, hoping to be fresh when the Suns play Thursday night at Dallas.

Phoenix trailed only 51-50 at halftime and took a 63-60 lead midway through the third quarter after Stoudemire's fast-break dunk. That lead didn't last long as Paul found Chandler for a dunk, igniting an 11-1 run that included two 3s by Stojakovic and another by Devin Brown.

Raja Bell briefly interrupted the surge with a 3 from the corner, but Stojakovic responded with his crowd-pleasing fadeaway, sparking an 11-2 run that gave New Orleans an 82-69 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

"We kind of lost control there in the third," Hill said. "They're a good team. We struggle with them when we're at full strength. No excuses. They came out and did what they had to do."

Matt Barnes' third 3-pointer of the game capped a 7-0 run that pulled Phoenix to 87-76 early in the fourth quarter. Later, Hill's driving floater as he was fouled by James Posey pulled the Suns within 91-82 with 5:17 to go.

That was about as close as the Suns would get. Chandler slipped in behind Paul's missed driving layup for a dunk and then Stojakovic's fifth 3 of the game put the Hornets up 96-84, which proved to be plenty of a cushion for the Hornets with 3:01 to go.

The Suns missed O'Neal's inside presence, as the Hornets outrebounded Phoenix 46-30. New Orleans grabbed a season-high 17 offensive rebounds, including six by Chandler, and the Hornets wound up with 28 second-chance points.

"The first thing when you look at the stat sheet is the offensive rebounds and points off offensive rebounds," Hill said. "That made it more difficult, giving them more possessions."

The Hornets also opened things up for perimeter shooters by going hard to the hoop and getting to the foul line. New Orleans shot 35 free throws, hitting 30.

"We are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the league, but we don't utilize it enough because we don't get to the rim enough," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "The guys made a conscious effort tonight to put their heads down a little bit more and get to the basket, which got us to the free throw line, and we were able to capitalize on that."

Game notes
Paul has a steal in 100 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA. ... The Hornets' scored 35 points in the opening period, which marked a team season high for scoring in a quarter. ... Barnes finished with 13 points. ... The Suns are 7-3 on the road. ... Phoenix has lost six straight to the Hornets dating to last season, the Suns' longest active losing streak against any team. ... The Hornets are 8-0 when scoring 100 or more points and 10-1 when leading after three quarters.