New Orleans/Oklahoma City 110, Sacramento 93

OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 14 (AP) -- New Orleans/Oklahoma City coach Byron Scott is puzzled by his team's bad performances against lesser opponents. However, he was pleased by the way the Hornets bounced back from their latest disappointing loss.

Desmond Mason scored 18 points and David West had 16 to lead New Orleans/Oklahoma City to a 110-93 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

One day after letting a fourth-quarter lead slip away in a loss at Memphis, the Hornets did not wait around for any late-game dramatics against the Kings. Instead, they blew open a close game with a 27-7 run that ultimately turned a 40-39 second-quarter deficit into a 66-47 third-quarter advantage.

"I'm happy about the game and excited about the win and the break,'' Scott said after the Hornets won for the ninth time in 12 games heading into the All-Star break. "The mystery continues when we come back (losing to lesser teams) and it is just a matter of trying to solve that. We will see how it goes with 29 (games) left.''

Mason scored 10 points and West had 12 during the opening half when New Orleans/Oklahoma City used a late surge to take control. Devin Brown added 15 points, Bobby Jackson had 14, Linton Johnson 12 and Tyson Chandler 10 to provide the Hornets with a balanced attack.

"We're not a good enough team right now to take nights off and that's what we did (against Memphis),'' said Chris Paul, who had nine points, four rebounds and six assists. "We have to bring it every night.''

The Hornets were still clinging to a 48-47 lead with just over a minute left in the half, but scored the final nine points before the break. Brown's second 3-pointer widened the gap to 52-47 and, after a basket by Mason and a turnover by Mike Bibby, Paul beat the buzzer with another 3 to make it 57-47 at the break.

"Obviously, the end of the first half was the momentum changer,'' Sacramento coach Eric Musselman said. "I thought we played well most of the first 22 minutes of the first half, and then the last 2 minutes of the half, they opened up in double digits.

"(New Orleans/Oklahoma City) came out and played very aggressive in the third quarter. Those two stretches were really the ballgame.''

Ron Artest, who shot just 4-of-15 from the field, scored 18 points to lead the Kings. Corliss Williamson added 16 for Sacramento and Kevin Martin finished with 15.

The Hornets scored the first nine points of the second half to take the 19-point lead. Brown's third 3-pointer of the night capped the decisive run 3:20 into the third, but the Hornets did not sit on the lead.

Sacramento struggled at both ends of the floor - shooting just 40.3 percent while allowing the Hornets to make a season-best 57.7 of their shots. Baskets by West and Chandler helped build New Orleans/Oklahoma City' advantage to 75-52.

"Until we figure out the maturity (factor), we are going to continue to be an up-and-down team,'' Chandler said.

Tyson Chandler grabbed 15 rebounds, the fifth straight game he's had at least that many boards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to accomplish the feat was Kevin Garnett, who did so in his team's last five games before the All-Star break, Feb. 8-15, 2006.

Sacramento started slowly, but rallied behind the play of leading scorer Martin, whose 3 at the 8:38 mark of the second quarter gave the Kings a 31-29 lead. They were still on top when Brown's first 3 gave the Hornets a 42-40 lead at the 5:36 mark.

Notes: New Olreans/Oklahoma City wore red uniforms that were to be auctioned off after the game to help raise money for the American Heart Association. ... Nine Hornets/Oklahoma City players scored at least eight points, while every player on team played and recorded a statistic. ... Sacramento has now lost three straight after putting together a season-best five-game winning streak between Jan. 31-Feb. 10.

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