NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry never had a problem with his team's effort and figured it was only a matter of time before the Suns would snap out of their shooting slump and secure their first victory of the young season.
Hakim Warrick scored 18 points in a reserve role, Channing Frye added 10 points and 16 rebounds, and the Suns handed the New Orleans Hornets their first loss, 93-78 on Friday night.
``When you look at the schedule and you're 0-2, you think there's a chance you'll go 0-66,' Gentry said. ``You look at the schedule after you win and you say, `Oh, we can do this or we can do that.' It's all psychological ... though. You've just got to go out and play. We've been doing a good job of competing, but our offense has been so stagnant. Tonight, we got out and ran.'
Jared Dudley added 16 points, while Steve Nash dished out 12 assists for the Suns, who had shot 40 percent through two losses to open the season, including one to New Orleans in their home opener Monday night.
``We made a few more shots, but more than that, we continually created offense,' Nash said. ``To be consistent in creating good offensive opportunities was a step in the right direction because in the first game against New Orleans, I thought we missed some shots we usually make. But in our second game (against Philadelphia), we just looked really hesitant, out of synch and kind of like we were dumbfounded a little bit.'
Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon missed a second straight game with a bruised right knee, and this time New Orleans could not compensate for the prolific scorer's absence.
Carl Landry led New Orleans with 17 points, while Emeka Okafor had 10 points and 16 rebounds, but the Hornets shot only 29 percent (26 of 90), the second worst shooting performance in team history.
``We've got scorers on this team. Everybody on this team can average double-digit points. Just the ball didn't fall,' Landry said. ``It's unusual for a team to shoot (29) percent for the game. Unfortunately that was something we did tonight. It will turn around.'
Gentry thought his team's intensity on the defensive end, more so in terms of contesting shots than rebounding, played a big role in the Hornets' shooting struggles.
``We did a great job of challenging everything at the rim,' Gentry said. ``It wasn't our offense. It was our defense that won the game.'
Suns center Marcin Gortat scored 12 points and blocked four shots while playing with a splint on his injured right thumb. Shannon Brown added 11 points and Grant Hill 10 for Phoenix, which shot 42 percent (33 of 78). Warrick was 6 of 12 from the floor and 6 of 7 on free throws.
Jarrett Jack scored 12 points and Marco Belinelli grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which outrebounded Phoenix 57-47 and had 24 offensive boards, more than any team in the NBA in this first week of the season.
The Hornets had 23 second-chance points, but could have had a lot more if not for their shooting woes.
``We didn't play hard, and that's a sign I didn't do what we needed to do ... to have the team ready,' Hornets coach Monty Williams said. ``We couldn't throw it in the ocean. That happens on occasions, but our defense was not there tonight.'
The Hornets got away with poor shooting in the first half, but it finally caught up with them halfway through the third quarter, when they were still just below 30 percent again (17 of 59).
Nash pulled up for a 3-pointer to give the Suns a 61-51 lead. Dudley then scored inside after baiting Chris Kaman to leave his feet on a ball fake. Frye followed with a 3 from the corner that fell through after a high bounce off the rim. Then Gortat capped a 10-0 run with an inside basket that made it 68-51.
New Orleans was unable to get any closer than nine points after that.
New Orleans hit only four of its first 20 shots (20 percent), but trailed only 16-14 at that point. Halfway through the second quarter, the Hornets were 10 of 35, but still trailed by only four after Okafor's free throws.
Soon after, the Suns raced to their first double-digit lead when Nash fueled a 6-0 spurt with fast-break feeds to Hill for a layup and Warrick for a dunk, making it 43-33.
New Orleans finally got over 30 percent - barely - when Belinelli hit his second 3 and Greivis Vasquez set up Okafor's dunk to make it 52-45 at halftime.
Notes: Brown got a technical foul in the second quarter for arguing with officials. ... Gentry also was called for a technical foul in the second quarter. ... New Orleans entered the game having won four straight against Phoenix, including the last three meetings last season. ... A near scuffle occurred early in the fourth quarter between the Suns' Robin Lopez and New Orleans' Trevor Ariza, who were each assessed technical fouls, but Brown and Jack quickly stepped between them before it escalated. ... New Orleans' offensive rebound total was higher than they had in any game last season.
The Associated Press News Service
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