NEW ORLEANS – Tony Parker scored early, often and from all over the court, finishing with 27 points as the San Antonio Spurs beat the New Orleans Hornets 97-85 on Friday night.

Tim Duncan had 24 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, while Manu Ginobili scored 14 and fellow Argentinean Fabricio Oberto added 13 points to help the Spurs maintain a double-digit lead through most of the second half.

Parker, who also finished with eight assists, scored 11 of San Antonio’s first 21 points, hitting on everything from a driving double-pump scoop in the lane to an open 3-pointer from the corner. There was no let up from there on.

Chris Paul scored 18 to lead New Orleans, which had lost two straight after winning its first four. David West scored 15 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed 11 rebounds.

After their impressive start to the season, the Hornets looked at their home date with the defending champs as a chance to measure their improvement from last season. New Orleans was 0-4 against the Spurs last season.

But during the third quarter it became clear that San Antonio still had the Hornets’ number.

The Spurs began to pull away early in the third quarter with a 12-2 run led by Ginobili, whose eight points during the surge included a driving scoop shot and a 3-pointer as he was fouled.

Very little was going right for New Orleans, which was struggling even to hit foul shots. The Hornets began turning the ball over as they attempted to force a faster tempo. A particularly demoralizing one came when Chandler fought for a difficult rebound, only to miss Paul with his outlet pass. Parker ended up with the ball and burst into the lane for a double-clutch reverse layup that made it 64-49.

San Antonio was shooting so well there wasn’t much New Orleans could do anyway. The Spurs hit 57.6 percent of their shots through three quarters and led by as much as 21 before taking an 81-63 lead into the final period.

New Orleans, a hot shooting team through their opening four wins, seemed to have lost the picture. They were 4-of-15 shooting from 3-point range and shot 43.2 percent for the game.

San Antonio also outrebounded New Orleans 42-37

Parker had 15 points midway through the second quarter, when Duncan and Oberto also surpassed double figures to help San Antonio surge into the lead after being down by seven earlier in the period.

Parker’s foul shot with 1.6 seconds left in the second quarter gave him 21 by halftime, when the Spurs led 52-45.

Notes: Spurs G Brent Barry, who sprained his right ankle diving for a ball during a victory against Miami on Wednesday, did not play. … New Orleans came in having won only four of its last 20 games against San Antonio. … Attendance was 15,297, the largest crowd in three games at New Orleans arena since the Hornets returned full-time from their two-year temporary stay in Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina.

AP-ES-11-09-07 2231EST

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