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Without West, Hornets Struggle

New Orleans missed their all-star power forward tonight, but even if David West had played, the defensive effort for the Hornets probably would have given the Hornets the same outcome, a loss. Amare Stoudemire was an absolute beast for the Knicks, being aggresive from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

“I try to be a dominant force,” said Stoudemire, who also grabbed 10 rebounds. “With the energy I try to bring forth on the basketball court, with my communication skills and my leadership role, I try to provide some confidence and swagger to us as a team and it seems to be working well.”

Trevor Ariza had a season-high 21 points for New Orleans, which was without David West because of a stomach virus. Chris Paul had 17 points and 10 assists.

The Hornets (13-6) have dropped five of seven and are quickly fading back into the pack after a surprisingly strong start. First-year coach Monty Williams said his team has been getting increasingly sloppy, pointing to 19 turnovers that led to 29 Knicks points.

“We have to understand the value of the ball,” Williams said. “It doesn’t make sense for a team with the ballhandlers we have to turn the ball over like that against a team that doesn’t really pressure the ball. There’s no excuse.”

New York led 74-73 late in the third when Shawne Williams’ driving scoop off the glass and Raymond Felton’s floater as he was fouled ignited a 10-0 run that gave the Knicks (11-9) their first double-digit lead of the game. Wilson Chandler’s second 3 of the fourth quarter made it 92-78 with 6:02 to go and New Orleans was unable to recover.

New York went 13-for-30 from 3-point range. Chandler, who scored 14, made four 3s, while Danilo Gallinari and Williams made three each.

The Hornets simply couldn’t keep up with that, going 3-of-14 from deep.

“We knew this was going to be a game where we could measure ourselves and see how good we could be,” Stoudemire said. “It was a big win for us, definitely a great step in the right direction. We’re really showing how good we can be.”

Jason Smith made his fourth career start in place of West, who leads the Hornets in scoring with 18.8 points per game. Smith had 12 points, while Emeka Okafor had 11 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans.

Felton finished with 17 points and 13 assists for New York, hitting a pair of 3s. Gallinari and Williams each scored 13.

The Hornets scored the first eight points of the game and led most of the first half, going up 28-21 when Willie Green’s basket early in the second quarter capped another 8-0 run.

The Hornets were up 36-28 when Stoudemire started to take over. Mixing in a couple jumpers with an array of strong inside moves, Stoudemire scored 16 of New York’s next 19 points, tying it at 49 on a dunk. Gallinari then hit consecutive 3s to help the Knicks take a 55-53 halftime lead.

New York was connecting from everywhere, and wound up shooting 47 percent (39-of-83) for the game

http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=301203003

As you can see from the game recap, the ball protection was as bad as the defense. If the Hornets want to be taken seriously, they simply cannot have efforts like the one Friday night at home. Sunday they’ll travel to play a Spurs team that owns the NBA’s best record. New Orleans defeated San Antonio earlier this year on their own floor, but with the way the Hornets have been playing the last two weeks, the win in San Antonio back in late October feels like six months ago, not one.

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