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New York vs
82 - 88
Record: 17-18
Jerome Williams grabs a rebound (AP Photo)
Jerome Williams grabs a rebound (AP Photo)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Baron Davis told the New Orleans Hornets during the final timeout that this was their game.

Suddenly, the NBA's worst team is talking and playing like winners.

"I believe every time I step on the court that we can win," Davis said. "I don't believe any team is better than us."

Davis had 21 points and 10 assists to lift New Orleans to an 88-82 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night and give the Hornets (4-29) their first winning streak of the season.

Lee Nailon had 18 points, and P.J. Brown and Dan Dickau added 17 points each for the Hornets, who looked nothing like the NBA's worst team down the stretch as they held New York's comeback attempt at bay and ended a 15-game road losing skid.

"If you were in New Orleans and went to a practice, you'd swear we were 29-4," coach Byron Scott said. "Our guys have been fantastic. This is a character builder."

The Hornets have their first winning streak in nearly a year. They snapped their 10-game losing streak -- which isn't even New Orleans' worst slide this season -- Saturday with a victory over Sacramento.

In that one, New Orleans gave up a late 3 to force overtime and then rallied to pull out the victory.

"I think that carried over big time for us," Brown said. "We can compete with any team in the league, we've just got to be able to finish and close games out. Now you're starting to see that."

It was the Hornets' first win over an Eastern Conference opponent (1-12) and just their second on the road (2-17).

Allan Houston led the Knicks with 17 points, despite making only six of 20 shots and 1-of-8 from 3-point range. Stephon Marbury and Kurt Thomas had 15 each, and Jerome Williams -- in his second straight start -- had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

New Orleans opened an 85-80 lead with 4:56 left, but the Knicks got even with three points from Marbury and a jumper by Thomas.

But Nailon buried a jump shot with 1:15 remaining and Brown added two free throws to make it 84-80 with 32 seconds left.

Thomas cut the deficit to two with 15.8 seconds remaining but Dickau made four foul shots in the final 13 seconds to seal it.

"We just hung in there and did everything right," Brown said. "We perfected our offense, executed on defense and it all came together for another win for us."

New Orleans, which dropped 11 straight from Nov. 23-Dec. 14, hadn't won consecutive games since April 9-10, 2004. That two-game streak was snapped by the Knicks.

The Hornets, who trailed only once for less than a minute, took control in the third quarter after the Knicks closed to 63-59 on Marbury's drive with 5:18 left.

New Orleans went on a 7-0 run and held New York scoreless for five minutes until Trevor Ariza's jumper with 18.6 seconds remaining in the quarter made it 70-61.

New York couldn't capitalize off Sunday's 113-105 home victory over Portland that evened the Knicks' record and snapped a four-game losing streak.

"Our struggle and our battle is mental," Houston said. "It's definitely a time when we have to raise our mental awareness."

The Knicks (17-18) have not been more than three games above .500 or two games below all season. Their only positive from the latest loss was that they held an opponent under 100 points for the first time in five games.

That isn't the greatest accomplishment, as New Orleans hadn't scored over 100 points in regulation until the 121-117 overtime victory against Sacramento three nights earlier.

The Hornets only trailed for 40 seconds when Williams' dunk off his missed free throw gave New York a 36-35 advantage with 7:14 left in the second quarter.

Davis answered with a three-point play at 6:37 to restore the Hornets' lead.

On the diagram board in the Knicks' locker room, the game plan called for keeping the Hornets off the offensive glass and slowing down Davis and Dickau.

New York did neither. Davis had 14 points in the first half, Dickau made all three 3-pointers he tried, and New Orleans grabbed seven offensive rebounds.

"We didn't come out and establish ourselves in the beginning," said Marbury, who had 13 assists. "They did."

Injured Knicks forwards Tim Thomas and Michael Sweetney dressed for the game without any intention of playing. ... Scott would like to have Jim Jackson in the lineup, but he isn't sitting around waiting for Jackson to report following his Dec. 27 trade from Houston. "I love Jimmy Jackson as a basketball player but right now I don't even think about Jimmy Jackson," Scott said. "I coach the guys who are here, who want to be here."

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