Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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NEW ORLEANS ― Using gritty defense and opportunistic offense, the Hornets did what few thought they’d do just a month earlier.
New Orleans hammered Boston 97-78 in its home opener, a shot across the bow to those who thought the Hornets were done for when Chris Paul was traded to the L.A. Clippers two weeks ago to the day.
Jarrett Jack led the way with 21 points and nine assists in his first game of the season starting in Paul’s old position.
He wasn’t alone in contributing, though.
Carl Landry had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Chris Kaman had 12 points and nine boards and Emeka Okafor and Marco Belinelli each added 13 points. Okafor also had five blocks.
While the Hornets shot 45.6 percent, the more important number was the 29 of 77 they held Boston to, 37.7 percent shooting.
New Orleans outrebounded Boston 48-37 and forced 13 turnovers, scoring nine points off of them.
The Hornets fell behind early thanks to porous defense and poor shooting.
At 9-2, it appeared New Orleans had no answer for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
But New Orleans clamped down on defense and heated up on offense.
The game was back and forth, close throughout the opening 12 minutes until New Orleans went on a 9-0 run that spanned the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second.
Balanced scoring thanks to aggressive drives to the basket for layups and putbacks were the story.
It all started with a Marco Belinelli jumper to go with an and-1. Carl Landry was next, tipping in a missed Greivis Vasquez jumper.
Chris Kaman’s 8-foot hook shot pushed the lead to 26-18 early in the second.
Meanwhile, on defense, the Hornets forced a turnover and a missed jumper that was followed by a Landry block on Marquis Daniels.
Boston pulled to within 69-61 with 2:01 to play in the third quarter but never got any closer.
Ray Allen led Boston with 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range.