NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 29 (Ticker) -- Quentin Richardson's shooting from the arc erased any hopes the New Orleans Hornets had of pulling off a monumental upset.

Richardson established a club record with nine 3-pointers as the Phoenix Suns posted a 107-96 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in a matchup of the teams with the best and worst records in the league.

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After the Hornets, who are just 2-26 this season, rallied to take a 64-63 lead midway through the third quarter, Richardson sparked a 17-6 run to close out the period. He had three 3-pointers in an 82-second stretch during that span.

"It was cool," Richardson said. "I was disappointed that I missed some. I missed like three or four wide-open ones, so I was disappointed about that."

"We had a great shot at it," said New Orleans forward P.J. Brown, who scored a season-high 18 points. "We were up 64-63, then Quentin Richardson got hot and he hit some wide-open 3-pointers. We let the Suns get the momentum and we never got it back."

With the Suns (25-4) seemingly coasting to a win, rookie J.R. Smith scored five of his season-high 22 points during a 9-1 outburst that cut New Orleans' deficit to 98-93 with just under a minute left. But Richardson again responded, burying the record-breaking 3-pointer with 43 seconds to go.

"This is great for me," said Richardson, who in July signed with the Suns after playing his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers. "In all the years I've been in the NBA, I've never had a winning record. I'm just ecstatic to be a part of this."

"Not only did (Richardson) make a lot of shots, he made some big ones down the stretch," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "It's not like it was a two-point game, but he made some shots that gave us some breathing room."

Richardson bested the team mark of eight established by Dan Majerle, who did it twice in 1993, and Jason Kidd, who matched the feat in 1997. Richardson also had a share of the record after hitting eight 3-pointers on December 5 at Portland.

The Suns' other free agent acquisition this offseason, Nash continued his stellar season with 22 points and nine assists for Phoenix, which was coming off a 21-point loss at San Antonio.

Phoenix took a 56-44 lead early in the third quarter when Smith led a 20-7 charge for New Orleans. The 19-year-old connected on back-to-back 3-pointers during the outburst. Lee Nailon added six of his 12 points during the spurt.

"I'm very proud of the way we just hung in there and we kept playing," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Hopefully, we can keep going in this direction."

The 18th overall pick in this year's draft, Smith was making just his second start of the season.

"It was all right," Smith said. "It wasn't enough to help us win the game, but just being out there on the floor with my teammates, we showed some progress."

"I thought J.R. came of age tonight on both ends of the court," Scott said. "I thought he did a much better job on the defensive end of just concentrating and understanding what he has to do."