WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.'
Not only is Wall still smarting from his aches, but he had little backcourt help. Kirk Hinrich, who would have spelled him, missed his second straight game because of a bruised left thigh.
Even though they're both from North Carolina, they're five years apart, and while they did play together briefly last summer, Wall was eager to try to quash some of the hype.
``It wasn't really a big matchup. Everyone makes it a matchup every time you play against a great point guard,' Wall said.
While Wall wanted to distance himself from Paul vs. Wall, his team didn't.
For the first meeting, the Wizards unveiled their ``Great Wall of Assists' to record the rookie point guard's gaudiest stat. Fortunately for Wall, it didn't include turnovers.
``Most young guys when they play against a prime time guy like Chris, it's tough on them,' New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. ``I'm pretty sure he was thinking about it all yesterday. I think it just happens to rookies.'
``He's a smarter player, a better player right now,' Wall said. ``I learned a whole lot - especially on the offensive end.'
The Paul-Wall duel was slow getting started. Wall was called for two quick fouls and took a seat barely 2 minutes into the game, and they weren't on the floor together again until 6:54 left in the half.
By then, the Wizards were in the midst of a 17-6 run that began the second quarter and gave them a 43-30 lead with 5:30 to play.
Wall's first-half highlight was a leaping dunk over Paul, punctuated with a split-second hang on the rim with 3:13 to play. Paul returned the favor midway through the third quarter when he stole the ball from Wall and passed to Okafor for a dunk.
Even though he missed six of his 10 shots, he showed Williams lots of potential.
``That guy is going to be really, really good someday,' Williams said. ``Once he starts knocking down his jump shot, he'll be unguardable.'
Nick Young led Washington with 24 points. The Wizards, who fell to 0-16 on the road Friday with a loss in Indiana, have lost 16 of 19.
NOTES: The Wizards were without swingman Josh Howard, who was out with soreness in his left knee. He had surgery on the knee in February and missed nearly 10 months. He returned Dec. 18 and played seven games, averaging 9.0 points. Saunders said the rest was precautionary. ... It was Paul's 11th game with at least five steals. He has two triple-doubles in nine games against Washington. ... Wizards C JaVale McGee had six blocked shots. Washington had 10 to New Orleans' one.
The Associated Press News Service
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