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Hornets Bench Solid, Remain Undefeated

From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — The Hornets’ reserve guards gave Chris Paul an easy night and powered surging New Orleans to its most lopsided victory of the young season.

Willie Green scored 19 points and Jerryd Bayless added 15, helping the Hornets remain unbeaten with a 101-82 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

With Paul on the bench, Bayless and Green took over in the fourth quarter, combining to score the Hornets’ first 19 points in the period to put New Orleans up 89-69.

Paul added 13 points and eight assists for New Orleans, which is now off to a franchise-best 7-0 start. Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza each scored 12 for the Hornets, whose rookie coach, Monty Williams, still hasn’t lost.

Al-Farouq Aminu scored 20 for the Clippers, who played most of the game without starting center Chris Kaman after he sprained his left ankle.

Los Angeles was as close as 63-60 late in the third quarter and trailed by only five when Bayless and Green started making plays. After Green hit a jumper behind David West‘s screen, Bayless set up Ariza’s 3.

Bayless, who was averaging 2.2 points coming into the game, then opened the fourth quarter with a jumper to cap a 9-0 run.

Green had 15 points in the final period, surpassing 4,000 career points in the process. Bayless had 11 in the fourth. Their play allowed Paul to sit for the entire quarter after playing 28 minutes.

Together, Green and Bayless were 10 of 12 from the field in the final period and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line for 26 points.

Marco Belinelli had 11 points for the Hornets, who shot 50.6 percent overall and 50 percent (8 of 16) from 3-point range. New Orleans also continued to play solid defense, creating 25 turnovers that led to 35 points. Paul and West each had three steals.

With Williams and lead assistant Mike Malone placing a premium on defensive play, the Hornets have held every opponent under 100 points.

Ryan Gomes had 11 points for Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin and Rasual Butler each had 10.

Aminu, a reserve forward who came into the game averaging 2.7 points, had 16 through three quarters, helping the Clippers claw back after they’d fallen down by 13 early in the second half.

After Griffin’s three-point play on a reverse jam, Aminu added a fastbreak layup and 3-pointer from the corner, then Griffin scored inside again during a 12-2 run that cut it to 63-60 late in the third quarter.

Jason Smith‘s jumper ended the run and the Clipper’s momentum. Ariza’s third 3 helped New Orleans score the last seven points of the period.

New Orleans raced to a double-digit lead while the Clippers made only one of their first eight shots. Ariza’s 3 capped an 11-0 run that made it 11-2. Okafor’s tip-in and Belinelli’s 3 highlighted a 9-0 run shortly after that made it 20-5.

Griffin banked in a couple of tough shots late in the quarter as Los Angeles began to chip away.

The Hornets got the lead back up to 41-28 when West’s steal produced Belinelli’s fastbreak dunk, but the Clippers responded soon after with a 13-3 run. Aminu then capped an 11-point first half with a 3 from the corner that got Los Angeles as close as 44-41.

Paul’s 3 made it 48-41 at halftime.

Game notes
The Hornets have beaten the Clippers 14 times in a row. … Although the Hornets entered the game unbeaten, none of their previous victories had been by as many as 10 points. … Clippers leading scorer Eric Gordon missed his first game since hurting his left shoulder against Utah on Saturday night. … Los Angeles also was without G Randy Foye, who missed his sixth straight game with a sore left hamstring.

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