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Hornets sting Jazz in opener

By By Richard Dark / EMG sports writer
Oct. 31, 2002
NEW ORLEANS New Orleans Hornets All-Star guard Baron Davis made sure nothing was going to spoil this night. It was too special.
In the season opener for both teams and in the Hornets eagerly anticipated inaugural regular season contest in New Orleans, Davis and backcourt mate Courtney Alexander came off the bench to provide needed knockout punch from long range to help KO the Utah Jazz 100-75 in front of a sellout crowd at the New Orleans Arena.
Davis drilled in 21 and Alexander added 19 to help fuel a dizzying fourth quarter 32-11 blowout run that settled the issue and delighted a crowd obviously starved for professional basketball.
And for the Jazz, the first quarter and majority of the last half of the third were like night and day from the rest of the contest.
A driving layup from Jazz guard Mark Jackson at the end of the third quarter pulled the Jazz to within four, at 68-64, but that's as close as they would get the rest of the way as the Hornets methodically inched the margin higher with dead-eye shooting and in-the-passing-lanes-defense.
And by the time Davis blew the lid off the place with his fourth 3-pointer of the night at the 6:44 mark, the hosts, with plenty of sports dignitaries past and present looking on, were cruising. Jamal Mashburn chipped in with 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
Jazz greats Karl Malone and John Stockton paced their club with 20 and 14, respectively. Malone, a Louisiana native, made the first regular season basket in the building, a 15-footer with 45 ticks gone by.
The Hornets native, P.J. Brown, scored the first bucket for the Hornets, seconds later on a13 footer. New Orleans helped themselves with a 20-10 advantage in the turnover department. The patented pick and roll run by Stockton and Malone was in scarce supply.
Afterward Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was also complimentary of the South's newest NBA team. "This is a very good team and they'll probably win 60 games without breaking a sweat as talented as they are," he said. "But we have a long ways to go."
On the other hand, the Hornets, a preseason favorite to win the Eastern Conference, look as if they are already there.