Suns hold off Hornets 104-102

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Phoenix Suns' Vince Carter, left, looks to pass as New Orleans Hornets' Emeka Okafor (50) defends during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) By Ross D. Franklin Phoenix Suns' Vince Carter, left, looks to pass as New Orleans Hornets' Emeka Okafor (50) defends during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) By Ross D. Franklin

PHOENIX (AP) -- Backup center Marcin Gortat scored a career-high 25 points as the Phoenix Suns beat a team with a winning record for the fourth consecutive time, surviving the New Orleans Hornets' frantic late rally for a 104-102 win Sunday night.

The Suns nearly blew an eight-point lead in the final 18 seconds, but Grant Hill blocked Marcus Thornton's inside attempt with 3.9 seconds left and Hornets guard Chris Paul's desperation 3-point attempt missed the rim as time expired.

Paul led New Orleans with 26 points.

The Hornets were coming off a loss Saturday night in Sacramento that snapped their winning streak at 10.

Emeka Okafor leaves game because of muscle strain
  
New Orleans center Emeka Okafor left the Hornets' game Sunday night against the Phoenix Suns because of a muscle strain.

The Hornets' leading rebounder at 10.2 per game doubled over in pain holding his left hip area with 1:56 left in the first half.

Jason Smith started the second half in Okafor's place, and the team said Okafor wouldn't return to the game.