Hornets handle Pistons 93-74
NEW ORLEANS -- David West and the New Orleans Hornets didn't look at all distracted by the NBA's impending takeover of their team.
West scored 25 points, Chris Paul had 14 assists and the Hornets won their first game since the league announced its planned purchase of the club, 93-74 over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
"We've got an understanding of what the situation is, but we've got to be able to separate that from what we can control and just go out here and play ball," West said. "The best situation for us is to win games and make what this organization is attractive by winning games and move on from there."
West had 23 in the first three quarters as the Hornets built a commanding lead that was never threatened in the final period by Detroit, which has lost six of its past seven and dropped to 2-11 on the road.
Marco Belinelli made four 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 22 points, while Emeka Okafor added 14 points as the Hornets earned only their third win in nine games.
Ben Gordon led Detroit with 16 points in a reserve role, while Rodney Stuckey scored 16 and Richard Hamilton 13.
Jac Sperling, the NBA's appointed caretaker of the Hornets, had reason to be encouraged by the product on the floor as he sat courtside, along the baseline, next to team president Hugh Weber.
The crowd he saw in the stands was less impressive. Announced attendance was 10,823, lowering the Hornets' average to 14,803 for all of last season and 11 home dates this season combined.
If the average attendance for the two seasons falls below 14,735 before the end of January, the club may have the right to invoke an early exit clause that would allow it to leave the city after this season. If not, the current lease runs through 2014.
The NBA on Monday announced plans to own the club only temporarily until a more permanent buyer, preferably one that would keep the team in Louisiana, can be found.
On Tuesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal urged Louisiana basketball fans to try to pack the arena for coming games to void the early exit clause and buy the state more time to figure out how to keep the team in place.
It didn't appear that the governor's message was heeded with much urgency, but West said he and his teammates were not discouraged.
"I just don't believe you can tell people how to spend their money or what to do in their off time," West said. "We understand we've got support. People in this city love this team. Those that come out and support us, we appreciate that. We know that people support us and that's all you can do."