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Hornets strong arm way to win

By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Oct. 30, 2003
NEW ORLEANS There was plenty of opening night magic in New Orleans Arena for Tim Floyd's new New Orleans Hornets. And fittingly, a game that featured plenty of first night gaffes and jittery play went into overtime with the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hornets prevailed 88-83 via a gutsy effort from spunky backup guard Darrell Armstrong, who pumped in 18 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The crowd of 15,242 must have felt they were going to lose ugly with 2:24 remaining in the extra session and their team trailing 81-77. But guard David Wesley drained a 3-pointer to pull New Orleans to within a point. Then Armstrong stole the subsequent in-bounds pass from Stephen Jackson and whipped the ball underneath to George Lynch for a thunderous alley-oop slam dunk and a one-point lead they never relinquished.
On the other end, P.J. Brown blocked a Theo Ratliff layup attempt and fired the pass out to a streaking Armstrong, who laid it in uncontested. Armstrong sank a pair of free throws, and Baron Davis hit a fast break layup for the final margin.
The Hornets forced Atlanta to commit 27 turnovers and outrebounded the Hawks on the offensive glass 21-10.
The victory gave the Hornets five straight season-opening wins.
Lynch collected 14 points and 12 rebounds, in place of the injured Jamal Mashburn. Davis (15 points, 10 assists) was injured inside the final minute of regulation, but he returned in the later stages of overtime.
Wesley tossed in 16. Jackson led the Hawks with 21 points, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim gave the New Orleans front line fits with a 10-point, 16-board effort. Brown also pulled down 16 for New Orleans.
Opening Day Moves
Wednesday afternoon the Hornets made a move to bolster their backcourt scoring in the absence of the injured off guard Courtney Alexander by signing veteran shooter Steve Smith.
Smith, in his 12th season, has career averages of 15.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. He averaged nearly seven points per game while winning an NBA championship last season with San Antonio. To make room for Smith, the team waived Kirk Haston.
Big Cat re-ups
Center Jamaal "Big Cat" Magloire ended speculation about his contract situation by inking a three-year extension only hours before the opening tip. If the Hornets and Magloire had not come to terms before Friday, the negotiations would have had to be put off until the end of the season, when he became a free agent, commanding more than likely a much higher price tag.
What's Next
The Hornets hit the road to face off against Orlando tonight and will return home Saturday night to face Boston. For tickets, call 1-800-4-NBATIX.