Sunday , Nov , 05 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

West, Hornets down Rockets in Big Easy

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) – David West netted 22 points and six
rebounds for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets in their 96-90 home-opening
victory over the Houston Rockets at the New Orleans Arena.

Chris Paul had 12 points and tied a career-high with 16 assists and Peja
Stojakovic added 16 points for the Hornets, who have started the season 3-0
for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

“Out of the first three game, none of them have been pretty, but we’re getting
the job done,” said Hornets coach Byron Scott.

After playing only three games in New Orleans last season due to the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets will play five more regular-season games at
New Orleans Arena in 2006-07 and 35 other home games – plus any playoff
contests – in Oklahoma City.

Shane Battier had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Yao Ming
added 17 points and 10 boards for the Rockets, who have dropped both of their
road games this season so far.

The Rockets had a 13-10 lead halfway through the first after Battier drained a
three-pointer, but the Hornets closed the quarter with a 16-2 run and Paul’s
layup at the buzzer gave his team a 26-15 advantage going into the second.

Houston started the second quarter with a 13-2 burst and tied the game when
Kirk Snyder hit a free throw to complete a three-point play with 7:28 left
until halftime.

However, Bobby Jackson scored the next five points for Hornets and the team
took a 48-42 lead into the locker room.

The Hornets shot 51.4 percent from the floor in the first 24 minutes while the
Rockets were a measly 34.1 percent shooting.

The Rockets came out in the third quarter with a 14-4 burst, capped by two
free throws from Yao, for a 56-52 lead with 6:37 left in the quarter. The
Hornets, though, bounced back and a free throw by Desmond Mason in the closing
moments of the quarter gave the Hornets a 71-70 lead going into the fourth.

Houston took a 77-76 lead in the fourth when Luther Head drained a jumper with
a little over nine minutes left in the game.

New Orleans responded by scoring the next eight points and had an 84-77 lead
when Rasual Butler hit a jumper with 7:30 to play.

The Rockets made a valiant effort to get back into the game and cut the score
to 94-90 with 6.7 seconds to play on a Rafer Alston jumper, but two free
throws by West sealed the win.

Game Notes

The game was attended by NBA commissioner David Stern…Houston travels to
Memphis for a game on Tuesday…The Hornets return to Oklahoma City to face
Golden State as the first installment of a home-and-home series on
Tuesday…The Hornets have won five of their last six games against
Houston…The Hornets finished the game shooting 47.1 percent, including 9-
of-16 from beyond-the-arc, while Houston shot just 40.5 percent.