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Sunday, January 9, 2005

Hornets snap losing skid

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— Baron Davis scrambled for a long rebound to notch his first triple-double in more than two seasons, then waved his arms to the delight of a victory-starved crowd that had been standing throughout the entire overtime period.

Davis had 26 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Hornets to their third win of the season -- a 121-117 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night that snapped New Orleans' 10-game losing streak.

"For us to fight tooth and nail with a team that's a championship contender is definitely a step in the right direction," Davis said.

Davis' assist total tied a career high, and he gave the credit for that to his teammates, who shot 45.2 percent overall and 13-for-26 from 3-point range.

"They hit shots tonight. This gives us a lot of confidence," Davis said.

Davis' final rebound came after a missed free throw by teammate P.J. Brown with 17 seconds left and with the Hornets leading 119-115. Davis then drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws with 13 seconds to go.

Rookie J.R. Smith tied a career high with 23 points for New Orleans, hitting four 3-pointers to go with several acrobatic inside moves. Dan Dickau and Rodney Rogers each scored 15, while Bostjan Nachbar tied a career high with 14 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Brown had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Seven of the Hornets' last 12 field goals were 3-pointers. Settling for outside shots late has hurt the Hornets recently, but not this time.

"We tried to fight and hang in there, but they just kept hitting shots," said Kings guard Mike Bibby. "I give them credit. ... I'm not going to knock how they played or make any excuses for how we played."

Peja Stojakovic scored 37 points on 13-of-23 shooting, with 22 points coming after halftime. Chris Webber had 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Brad Miller had 14 points and 16 rebounds. Bibby, who had scored more than 30 points in his previous two games, struggled with his shooting through most of regulation but finished with 20 points and was nearly the star for the Kings.

New Orleans had a 102-99 lead when Davis missed on a drive inside the last 20 seconds of regulation. Sacramento casually brought the ball upcourt and Webber took a 3-pointer that missed, but the rebound was tapped out to Bibby, who had shot only 3-of-16 to that point.

Bibby, who had hit a decisive shot in the Kings' win a night earlier in Atlanta, had no choice but to unload a 3 -- and he nailed it with 2.5 seconds left to tie it at 102. The Hornets could not score on their final possession when Davis, inbounding the ball, could only find Brown for a tough turnaround jumper that missed.

Sacramento opened overtime with a 3 by Maurice Evans (14 points) and a jumper by Bibby to go up 107-102. Bibby had a big smile on his face and it looked like another late-game collapse for the Hornets, who blew a second-half lead in a loss at Memphis on Friday. But Brown hit a pair of free throws, then Davis made a 3 to tie it.

The Hornets would then get two more 3-pointers from Smith and another from Dickau, who also tossed in a fast-break layup set up by Davis' fourth steal.

"We have been in games and just have not made some plays down the stretch," Dickau said. "For us to buckle down and go back at it was a great sign for this team not to give in."

Sacramento had a 70-60 lead in the third quarter after Stojakovic followed a fadeaway jumper with a pair of free throws a possession later. Then the Kings failed to score on their next five possessions while the Hornets went on a 10-0 run, highlighted by Chris Andersen's alley-oop dunk from Davis, to tie the score, and the game remained close the rest of the way.

Notes: Davis' last triple double came in the 2002 playoffs. ... Andersen finished with 12 points. ... In the first half, Dickau hit a 3 from the corner as he was fouled by Bibby, then hit the ensuing free throw for his second four-point play of the season. ... Webber had a first-quarter double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Kings missed all six of their 3-pointers in the first half and started 0-for-7 on 3s and finished 5-of-18.

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