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Paul, West lead hot Hornets past Warriors

NEW ORLEANS -- David West and the Hornets knew they could not let up against the Warriors.

And they didn't.

New Orleans held Golden State to 13 field goals while opening a 20-point first-half lead and then coasted to a 99-89 victory Sunday.

"We came out with the right mind-set," said West, who scored 23 points. "We were prepared for them defensively and didn't allow them to get any control of the game."

Chris Paul scored 27 points as the Hornets pulled within 1½ games of the Southwest Division-leading Houston Rockets. They trail the San Antonio Spurs, who lost to the Rockets earlier Sunday, by a game.

New Orleans has won 11 of 14 since entering a 21-game stretch that features only five opponents with winning records and one road game against a team above .500. The Hornets' victory over the Warriors was their third in a row during a four-game home stretch.

"We're right there," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "It's going to be a tight race until the end of the season. Every game is critical."

Stephen Jackson led Golden State with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kelenna Azubuike added 16 points after missing his first eight shots.

The Warriors, who shot a season-best 56.5 percent against Philadelphia on Friday, connected on only 13 of 43 attempts (30.2 percent) in the first half. The Hornets led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter and were ahead by double digits for the second half until Golden State briefly pulled within nine in the final two minutes.

Neither team led by more than two points until Paul sparked a 7-0 run in the final minute of the first quarter to put the Hornets ahead 27-20. In that sequence, Paul hit an outside shot, made a steal that led to a goaltending call and converted a 3-point play in transition.

The Warriors never put up much of a challenge the rest of the way. Their only road victory against a team with a current winning record came in New Orleans in January, but they did not come close to matching that effort.

The Hornets usually struggle when Paul and West go to the bench at the beginning of the second quarter. This time, they outscored the Warriors 9-2 to go ahead 38-22 before West returned. They extended the advantage to 46-26 while Paul rested for nearly 9 minutes.

By the time Paul returned, third-year center Hilton Armstrong already had his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Bowen, averaging 2.1 points for the season, had six points and even attempted a wild 14-foot hook shot. It almost went in, rolling off the rim before Armstrong was fouled on a putback attempt. He made the two free throws.

Armstrong, starting for the third consecutive game in place of injured center Tyson Chandler, finished with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds before leaving in the third quarter with a cut on his right ring finger that required five stitches.

"I was so mad," Armstrong said. "[Golden State's Ronny] Turiaf went up to dunk it and I blocked it with my finger tips and barely got it and my finger bent back and hit the front of the rim and split open. Hopefully I can come back and it will hold up."

Armstrong had five points and one rebound on Friday against Memphis.

"Last game he got in foul trouble and that kind of messed him up, but he came back tonight and was aggressive on both ends of the floor. He played a great game. That's the type of performance we need from him."

New Orleans led by at least 15 until late in the second half, with most of the points coming easily. On one possession in the third quarter, Paul contemplated taking an open 3-pointer, decided not to and dribbled in place a couple times. When no one came out to guard him, he finally sank the shot.

Golden State made a modest push late in the fourth quarter, pulling to 94-83 on an Anthony Morrow layup with 3:42 left. But West scored inside on the Hornets' next possession and the Warriors did not get within single digits until the final two minutes.

"We waited to play too late," Jackson said. "You can't wait and play too late against a good team like that. They kept us out of the game."

Golden State forward Brandan Wright, coming off a career-high 25 points against Philadelphia, scored only four points.

Game notes
Chandler is out with an ankle injury. Hornets guard Peja Stojakovic (sore back) sat out for the 10th consecutive game. Bowen sustained a separated shoulder in the first half and did not return. The Warriors have lost 16 of their last 18 road games. Golden State scored a season-low 37 points in the first half.