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Hornets Spank Wizards

For a team that has struggled on the road, the Hornets ended 2010 and began 2011 with road wins. Hopefully it continues. Tonight, New Orleans beat the Washington Wizards 92-81, behind Trevor Ariza’s best game in a Hornet uniform.

Chris Paul and John Wall will probably play against each other many more times in their careers. For Paul, their first showdown was just another solid game. For Wall, a major learning experience.Paul wasn’t the New Orleans Hornets’ leading scorer. He let others take the bows in the Hornets’ 92-81 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Trevor Ariza scored a season-high 22 points, Emeka Okafor had 17 points and a season-high 15 rebounds and Paul added 13 points and 11 assists.

Ariza scored 13 points in the third quarter and New Orleans outscored Washington 26-15 to take a 68-62 lead. The Hornets never let the Wizards seriously threaten in the fourth quarter.

Paul also had seven steals and one turnover. Wall, who was the first pick last June in the NBA draft, had 12 points, 10 assists and eight turnovers — four in the third quarter — in the first meeting of the guards.

“You see the difference between a veteran point guard and a young one,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said.

Wall has missed 12 games this season because of a variety of injuries, and Paul could tell that the 20-year-old was missing something.

“My biggest thing is: I told him to get healthy,” Paul said. “You can tell that his foot is still bothering him a little bit.”

Hopefully these solid road performances continue in 2011. The Hornets return to the Hive Monday, hosting the 76ers with a 7:00 tip-off.

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