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Green scores 31 to lead Hornets past Suns, 109-97

Willie Green hit his first 12 shots and finished with a season-high 31 points to lead the New Orleans Hornets to a 109-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

Green, who was 5 for 15 in his previous three games, made a 3-pointer soon after entering midway through the first quarter. He made all five of his shots in the second quarter, one in the third quarter and put the Suns away with five more in the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter — the last three baskets coming in a 29-second span as the Hornets extended a 99-88 lead to 107-88.

He finally missed, failing to even hit the rim when he tried to draw a foul on Phoenix's Jared Dudley with less than 5 minutes left. He missed his next four shots as well, finishing 12 for 17 — including 5 for 6 on 3s.

Trevor Ariza added 21 points for the Hornets, Carl Landry scored 17 and Chris Paul had 12 assists as the Hornets tied Portland for sixth place in the Western Conference.

Dudley had a team-high 18 points for the Suns, who played without NBA assists leader Steve Nash and will have to win their final three games to avoid their first losing season since 2003-04. Marcin Gortat added 17 points, and Grant Hill scored 15.

The Suns were still in it, trailing 85-79 at the end of the third quarter, before Green's final surge. He hit a 3 to give the Hornets a 90-79 lead, then sank an outside shot to make it 94-82. New Orleans led by double digits the rest of the way.

His first 10 shots came within the framework of the offense. Then the Hornets started feeding him and letting him go to work in the fourth quarter.

He shook his arms as if he were too hot to be contained after his fourth 3 gave them a 102-88 lead. The next time down the court, he faced up Zabian Dowdell, dribbled in place and launched an outside shot that hit nothing but net.

After a scramble play under the basket on New Orleans' next possession, Ariza passed to him for one more wide open 3, which he swished as the crowd went wild.

Phoenix closed to 10 points down the stretch, but couldn't get any closer.

The Suns took a 28-18 lead in the first 8 minutes, scoring from everywhere on the court. Hill had nine of those points, hitting four of his first five shots, and Dudley went 3 for 3 with a dunk and two layups.

Outhustled during that stretch, the Hornets responded with a 13-2 run. Paul scored his only points of the first half in the final 35 seconds of the quarter hitting a 3-pointer to close the deficit to 30-29 and a step-back buzzer beater to give New Orleans its first lead, 31-30.

The Hornets never trailed again, shooting 55.6 percent from the floor. Landry was almost as proficient as Green, sinking eight of 10 shots.

Phoenix fell to 1-6 without Nash, who sat out to rest a strained right hamstring. Starting in Nash's place, Aaron Brooks had nine points and nine assists, making two of seven shots.

NOTES: The Hornets have won three in a row for the first time since January, when they won 10 straight. ... Nash is on pace to lead the NBA in assists for the fifth time in the last seven seasons, averaging 11.4. Boston's Rajon Rondo is second at 11.2. ... The 6-foot-7 Dudley met his preseason prediction with his 10th dunk early in the first quarter off a pass from Brooks. His goal was a source of amusement for his teammates all year. He had none through the first 49 games.