WASHINGTON (AP) -These are the margins of victory during the New Orleans Hornets' six-game winning streak: 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5.
``We ain't had no blowouts,' point guard Chris Paul said. ``But at the end of the day, a win is a win.'
The Hornets have the longest active run in the NBA, but no one is about to compare them to the Lakers or Celtics just yet. Two days after a narrow victory over the woeful New Jersey Nets, New Orleans blew a seven-point fourth-quarter lead Sunday before holding on for a 115-110 win over another last-place team, the Washington Wizards.
``I just think teams are going to make their runs,' forward David West said. ``We fall into those lulls where we get stagnant.'
Paul scored eight of his 26 points in the final three minutes and added 14 assists, Peja Stojakovic scored 20 points, and West and Marcus Thornton had 15 apiece for the Hornets, who have won three straight away from home to improve their road record to 5-13.
Few would have expected Washington to give the Hornets such a test, but the Wizards have turned their game up a notch without Gilbert Arenas.
Washington was blown out 121-98 at Cleveland on the day Arenas was suspended indefinitely by the NBA for bringing guns to the Verizon Center and related incidents, but since then the Wizards have beaten first-place Orlando at home and hung tough against the streaking Hornets.
Antawn Jamison tied his season-high with 32 points, and Randy Foye had 23 starting in place of Arenas to set a season-high for the second straight game. Washington wasted a 58 percent shooting game by committing 19 turnovers, including two by Nick Young and one by Foye in the final three minutes.
That said, the Wizards realize they also have a smaller margin for error without Agent Zero.
``There's no one out there you can just consistently say, 'Hey, give me the ball, I'm going to go ahead and get you 30.' That's not going to happen,' said center Brendan Haywood, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds and made all seven of his field goal attempts. ``We're going to have to play better as a team, and we had some lulls in the second quarter and the fourth.'
Paul's jumper with 2:54 to play broke a tie at 101 to give the Hornets the lead for good. After Young turned the ball over with a bad pass, James Posey made it a five-point lead with a 3-pointer. New Orleans shot 53 percent and set a season-high in points.
Wizards coach Flip Saunders was concerned about the early afternoon start time, but his team shot 75 percent in the first quarter, making its last eight field goals and 15 of 20 for the period.
The matinee slump hit in the second quarter, when the Wizards committed eight turnovers and allowed a 10-0 New Orleans run. Paul's 3-pointer with three-tenths of a second remaining gave the Hornets a 60-49 lead at the half.
Foye scored six points in an 11-0 run that tied the game at 76 in the third quarter. The Wizards made their last seven shots of the period and led 82-80 going into the fourth.
Neither team led by more than seven in the fourth quarter.
``I talked to the team afterwards about our ability to score on two or three straight possessions when we really needed it to give ourselves a little bit of room,' Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. ``I thought that was a really good sign to put consecutive possessions together.'
Notes: Eight of Paul's assists came in the first quarter. ... Washington G Mike Miller left the game in the third quarter after reaggravating his strained right calf and will have an MRI on Monday. Miller played Friday for the first time since Nov. 21 and was still feeling sore before the game. ... While the Wizards have removed virtually all traces of Arenas from the Verizon Center, one teammate found a way to get his suspended teammate's nickname visible. DeShawn Stevenson took to the court during pregame warmups with the words ``AGENT' and ``ZERO' written in red capital letters on tape wrapped around his shins. ... Haywood has made 13 consecutive field goals over two games, the longest such streak by a Wizards player since No. 1 overall draft pick flop Kwame Brown in March 2004. When told that stat, Haywood replied: ``I don't want that record. I don't want to be with him,' - a reminder that Brown is remembered far less fondly than Arenas.
The Associated Press News Service
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