Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Former Jazz player Devin Brown scores two of his career-high 30-points in Monday's 91-87 victory over Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Devin Brown knows first-hand how the Utah Jazz like to play defense, so he was well aware that he might get some good opportunities to take open shots on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

But even the New Orleans Hornets guard himself couldn't have predicted he'd go off for a career-high 30 points in a 91-87 victory on the court he used to call home.

"I played here. I know that the guy (covering me) has got to help out — especially with (Chris Paul's) penetration," said Brown.

"That means you are going to be wide open on the angle and if you are able to knock those down, it's going to get them thinking a little bit. I was able to do that."

He sure was. Brown, who entered the game averaging 10.2 points, made five 3-pointers on the night and 11 shots from the field to better his career-best in scoring for a game by five points.

"Obviously, the MVP of the game tonight was Devin Brown," said Paul, the Hornets' All-Star point guard. "Early in the game they could contain me on the ball screen by helping off of him. ... Once Devin started making shots, it opened the court up a little bit and I could get in the lane."

New Orleans has struggled much of this year — even firing its coach Byron Scott and replacing him with Jeff Bower. But Monday's victory has the Hornets finally at the .500 mark, at 16-16.

Interestingly, when Brown has strong offensive games, the Hornets are a much better team. They improved to 10-1 this season when Brown scores 11 or more points.

"I thought Devin played out of his mind and just hurt us," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who was Brown's teammate as a rookie.

Brown spent the 2005-06 season with the Jazz when he averaged 7.5 points before he was involved in the trade with Golden State that brought Derek Fisher to Utah. His roots to the state actually run much deeper, as he was born 31 years ago in Salt Lake City, although he was raised in Texas.

"It was fun while I was here (with the Jazz)" said Brown. "I had a good time, but unfortunately, the business side took over.

"(It was good) to come in here and show the same things I did here — hit threes and play hard. I was able to show that tonight."

Brown was thought of more as a defensive specialist during his season with the Jazz, but Bower has given him the green light to shoot more often.

"(Brown) made a lot of shots tonight," said Bower, who improved to 13-10 since taking over the New Orleans coaching duties. "Most of (Brown's attempts) were pretty good shots with his feet set. Our thing is that if it's a good shot and you are on balance, then let it go."

Despite a slow start to the season, having Paul out for eight games due to injury and having won only three games on the road, things are looking up for the Hornets. They have won three straight and are hoping to climb back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

"January has got to be our moving month," said Brown, "and this is a great way to start out."

e-mail: lojo@desnews.com