Maybe no team knows how important a healthy starting lineup is as much as the surging New Orleans Hornets.

The Hornets look to continue their strong play when they host the Seattle SuperSonics in New Orleans on Friday.

Chris Paul, David West and Peja Stojakovic - the Hornets' three primary offensive options entering the season - have missed a combined 89 games because of injuries. While Stojakovic is still recovering from lower back surgery, West and Paul are healthy again, and the Hornets (26-29) are reaping the rewards.

After opening the season 12-22, New Orleans has gone 14-7, including wins in seven of its last 10 games. With Wednesday's 111-107 victory over New Jersey, the Hornets pulled into an eighth-place tie in the Western Conference.

One night after going 6-for-15 from the field and watching his team blow a fourth-quarter lead in a 104-100 loss to Charlotte, West responded with a season-high 32 points to lead the Hornets over New Jersey. Paul had 19 points and 11 assists.

"I wanted to attack the basket and do what I can to put us in position to win," West said. "I was disappointed with the way we played last night. I've got to be able to put the ball on the floor and make baskets."

Tyson Chandler added 10 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans, his seventh straight double-double and 11th in 12 games. Chandler, leading the league with 16.7 rebounds per game in February, tied a franchise record with a career-high 23 boards on Feb. 13 at Memphis.

"I feel right now, the way we are playing, my team is going to need some extra shots and my mission is to see that my team gets those extra shots," Chandler said. "I really don't need to touch the ball, I can create my own touches by going and getting the ball and then giving it to my teammates."

The Sonics (21-32) also welcomed back a key player recently when Rashard Lewis returned from a hand injury that kept him sidelined for 22 games. Seattle is 3-1 since his return and is looking for its first four-game win streak of the season.

Lewis, averaging 22.8 points and 6.8 rebounds since rejoining the team, led the Sonics with 34 points in Wednesday's 121-105 win over Memphis.

"I'm almost fully back. My shot is still a little short, but I'm just getting that rhythm back," Lewis said. "The injury slowed me down a lot. It's going to take some more steps, but it's coming back."

The Sonics have the second-worst record in the West to Memphis, but are just four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Seattle is 6-19 on the road, and faces a Hornets team that has won 10 of 11 at home. The Sonics, though, have beaten Indiana and Sacramento in their last two games away from home after losing a franchise-record 15 straight road games.

The Sonics have won eight of their last 11 matchups with the Hornets, including both this season.


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