Bradley Beal put in 15 points and Nene contributed a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which trailed by 11 points in the first half but then clamped down on defense to emerge with the win.
The Wizards, an NBA-worst 3-15 overall, came into the contest with an 0-8 record away from home.
New Orleans, meanwhile, dropped their fourth straight despite the return of first-overall draft choice Anthony Davis, who had missed 11 games with an ankle injury.
Davis came off the bench to provide 13 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals for the Hornets.
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