The 17,623 fans who showed up perhaps noticed there was something else worth watching. Namely, their own team.David West had 27 points and 15 rebounds, leading the New Orleans Hornets to their fifth straight victory, 86-76 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
“LeBron, I know he gets sellouts everywhere he goes, so I tip my hat off to him for getting people here so they could see us,” said Hornets shooting guard Morris Peterson, who hit 3-pointers during each of two runs that helped the Hornets pull away in the second half. “It’s like in recruiting. Some guys have game film and the coach is watching him, and then the coach sees another player and ends up recruiting the other player instead.”
The Hornets have been struggling to draw big crowds since returning this season from a two-year stint in
Chris Paul said he felt the energy from the sellout crowd against
Paul had 20 points, nine assists and tied a career high with seven steals. Tyson Chandler added 11 points and 12 rebounds as
“We really fed off their energy,” Paul said. “When the crowd gets on their feet, it really gets us going.”
In addition to drawing fans, James drew a lot of attention from
“They doubled me the whole game, sometimes tripled me,” James said. “We know how to react to it. I’ve been getting double- and triple-teamed for the last three years. So we know how to react. We just didn’t shoot the ball well.”
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 14 points and 12 rebounds for
“The bottom line was the turnovers and we came out flat in the third quarter,”
West then scored six points on a slippery inside move, baseline jumper and free throws during an 11-2 run early in the fourth quarter that gave the Hornets their largest lead at 82-61.
“Any given night we’ve got guys capable of winning games, having a really, really big night,” West said. “It’s a long, long season and hopefully as we pick up steam here, people will continue to support us.”
Cleveland’s only basket during the surge was exactly what fans came to see, a soaring slam dunk by James. That basket also seemed to briefly ignite James, who hit a 3 and scored seven points during a 9-0 run that momentarily made things interesting as
Paul snapped the Hornets’ drought with a pair of free throws with 4:24 to go.
Peja Stojakovic, who scored 10 points, got the Hornets started with a pair of early 3-pointers, while Paul converted a couple steals into baskets and scored 10 in the first half to help