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David West helps Hornets hold on for third straight win

NEW ORLEANS -- David West and Chris Paul didn't have to score in bunches for the Hornets to win a third straight game for the first time since before Thanksgiving.

West scored 17 points and New Orleans used another stifling defensive outing to hold on for an 84-77 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

"We're not going to let one guy guard another guy straight up. We're totally committed to just playing team defense," West said. "We know that ultimately, if we guard, we're going to have a chance to win games. If we can make them fight and work extra hard for every single possession, we're going to find ourselves in good shape."

Paul scored 15 points, with four of those points coming in the final 20 seconds to seal up the victory.

His speedy left-to-right dribble on a drive past Elton Brand for a layup off the glass put the Hornets up 82-77 with 19.6 seconds left.

Paul said he saw 10 seconds on the shot clock when Emeka Okafor set a high screen for him, "and I knew I just needed to be aggressive with [Brand], did an in-and-out dribble and made the layup, thankfully."

Philadelphia wanted the ball in the hands of 3-point shooter Jason Kapono, but he lost the ball out of bounds while under pressure from former Sixer Willie Green. Paul was fouled soon after and made two free throws for the final margin.

Okafor had 13 points and Green added 11 for New Orleans, which saw a lead as large as 13 in the fourth quarter trimmed to three, at 78-75, on Brand's layup with 3:09 to go.

However, the Sixers then missed six straight shots from the field.

"That's big and I think it says a lot about our team," Paul said. "When the game gets tight, we're able to get stops."

Brand led Philadelphia with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Andres Nocioni had 13 points and Jrue Holiday and Marreese Speights each had 12 points.

Philadelphia was doomed by poor shooting during the final three quarters, when they were 19 of 66 (28.8 percent) from the field.

The Sixers were 5 of 23 from 3-point range and finished at 34.1 percent (30 of 88) from the field overall to become the third straight team the Hornets have held to 81 or fewer points.

Sixers coach Doug Collins lamented that his team performed well enough to finish with a 44-41 rebounding edge, committed only 10 turnovers to New Orleans' 12 and held the Hornets to just under 45 percent shooting, yet could not come away with a win.

"We did all the things we would like to have done, except we couldn't make a shot," Collins said. "Our guys fought back. We made it close in the end, but we just couldn't get over the hump."

The 76ers also played without 7-foot-1 starting center Spencer Hawes, who strained his back in warmups and was replaced by Speights in the lineup.

Philadelphia controlled the game early thanks to Nocioni's 10 first-quarter points. The Sixers went up by as much as nine when Holiday's short turnaround made it 40-31 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter.

That would be the last points Philadelphia scored until the third quarter, however, as West's free throws began a 12-0 run to close out the first half. West scored six points during the spurt, and Okafor's free throws put the Hornets ahead 43-40 at halftime.

"The end of the second quarter really hurt us because we had the game under control," Brand said. "They're playing well and they're a good team, but this was still a disappointing loss."

New Orleans then scored the first five points of the second half to extend the run to 17-0 and take a 48-40 lead on Marco Belinelli's driving floater off the glass. The Hornets led throughout the third quarter, with Jason Smith's 17-foot jumper giving New Orleans a 68-58 lead heading into the final period.

The lead got as large as 77-64 on Okafor's free throws in the middle of the fourth quarter.

The Sixers then closed the gap with a 9-0 run that included four points from Brand and Kapono's transition 3 to set up a tense finish.

Game notes
The Sixers did not say when they expected Hawes to return. ... The crowd included members of Ohio State's football team, who are in New Orleans to play in Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Sixers reserve swingman Evan Turner played for the Buckeyes' basketball team. He had seven points against New Orleans. ... Announced attendance was 13,433. ... The Hornets improved to 14-4 at home. ... The Sixers dropped to 5-15 on the road.

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