Portland 100, New Orleans/OK City 85

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 27 (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers knew that the time to turn around a two-game losing streak was against the New Orleans Hornets without Chris Paul.

Zach Randolph had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and the Trail Blazers beat the Hornets 100-85 on Wednesday night.

"They were without a lot of guys, but we have to take advantage when we get breaks like that and we did,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.

Portland grabbed a 73-55 lead in the third quarter when Jarrett Jack passed to Brandon Roy for a dunk. The Blazers outscored the Hornets 26-14 in the quarter to take an 80-60 lead into the final period and led by as many as 22 points.

The Hornets were without Paul, who sprained his ankle Tuesday night in the first quarter of a 102-94 loss at Seattle. Last season's rookie of the year, who was averaging 18.4 points and nine assists, is out indefinitely. "With Chris out there, guys know they're going to get wide open shots, so mentally when you know you've got a guy like that you can prepare for shots and have more confidence in knocking them down,'' Hornets guard Jannero Pargo said. "With him out, guys didn't really know what to expect tonight.''

The Hornets, who were already without Bobby Jackson (cracked rib), David West (elbow) and Peja Stojakovic (back), have lost 14 of their last 17 games. They have dropped six straight on the road.

Portland has won six of its last eight.

Rasual Butler, Desmond Mason and Pargo each scored 16 points for New Orleans, which went on a 16-point run in the fourth quarter to cut it to 85-79. Pargo scored eight straight during the run.

Roy said it made him nervous, because when the Blazers were struggling through injuries they liked to take advantage of teams that got complacent with leads.

"I was a little concerned. I had to get my sweat going again. And I knew Zach did, too,'' Roy said.

Roy and Randolph combined to stop the Hornets' comeback. Roy converted a layup and Randolph made a jumper to give the Blazers a 10-point lead with 3:41 left.

``I'm hoping the guys are tired of hearing about great effort,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Let's get a win. We need to continue focusing. We are shorthanded, and our efforts need to be at an all-time high.''

Portland led by as many as 11 points early and capped the first quarter with Travis Outlaw's follow dunk that made it 28-21. Rookie Sergio Rodriguez's 3-pointer extended the lead to 11 with 7:15 left in the first half.

Despite Paul's glaring absence, the Hornets stayed in the game, and narrowed it to 50-46 on two free throws by Mason late in the second.

Randolph hit a hook shot and a jumper to give the Blazers a 54-46 halftime lead.

"We knew the Hornets wanted to come in here and sneak one away, but we really wanted to pick this win up because we needed it,'' Roy said. "You've got to protect your home floor.''

Randolph has 17 double-doubles this season.

Ime Udoka added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers. It was his second double-double of the season.

Notes: The Rose Garden held a moment of silence before the game for President Gerald Ford, who died Tuesday at age 93. ... The Blazers came back from a 27-point deficit to beat the Hornets 92-91 on Nov. 10 in the teams' first meeting this season. ... Hornets G Devin Brown was called for a flagrant foul after coming down hard on Jack. Portland C Jamaal Magloire was later called for a flagrant against Brown.


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