NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Amare Stoudemire wanted to play with the kind of contagious aggression that would help his Knicks teammates believe they can beat a Hornets team that had lost only once in nine games at home.
During a span of less than seven minutes in the second quarter Friday night, Stoudemire did precisely that by scoring 16 of his 34 points while almost single-handedly erasing an eight-point deficit. After that, the Knicks eventually built a lead as large as 14 before taking their eighth win in nine games, 100-92.
``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. Paul said there wasn't much the Hornets could do about that.
``We try to keep teams out of our paint and they knocked down 3s all night long,' Paul said. ``We gave up a little bit of everything. Sometimes it's one or the other, tonight we gave up both.'
NOTES: This marked this first time this season in 19 games that the Hornets did not have the same starting five. ... New York has won five straight meetings spanning the past two-plus seasons. The Hornets' last win over the Knicks came in April 2008, before Mike D'Antoni became New York's coach. ... The teams will meet once more this season in New York on March 2. ... Announced attendance was 14,020, and the Hornets are averaging 13,865 through 10 home games despite a strong start.
The Associated Press News Service
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