Hornets rookie Anthony Davis was in his second day of practice Monday since missing Friday’s preseason game against Houston with a slight groin injury, going full bore during an intense session.
Backup power forward and center Jason Smith, who had missed three games since falling hard in the preseason opener, also was back at it, banging hard beneath the basket Monday after a less physical session Sunday.
And small forward Xavier Henry, who recently returned from the injured list, was engaged in some lively one-on-one scrimmaging.
However, the most conspicuous presence on the court was that of shooting guard Eric Gordon, although he is not yet ready to make his return. Still rehabbing a knee on which he had arthroscopic surgery in February, Gordon’s face in the practice place has been an encouraging sign for coach Monty Williams and the Hornets the past two days.
“He looks pretty good,” Williams said of Gordon, for whom the team matched a four-year $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns this offseason to retain. “He’s been out there shooting a little bit, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to amp his conditioning up here pretty soon.”
Williams said he doesn’t know when Gordon will return. Asked if he’d like to see Gordon, a talented offensive player, play in one or two preseason games to get ready for the start of the regular season Oct. 31, Williams said, “That would really be nice.”
Gordon said he doesn’t know when he’ll return but that the knee is getting better. He participated in tryouts for the USA Olympic team this summer, and reports coming out of camp were that he did well, leaving the Hornets more than optimistic despite all the games he missed last season.
“There was no pain when I was in Olympic camp, and there was no pain a month later,” he said. “But just about a month or three weeks before (Hornets) training camp started (on Oct. 2), when I started working out, it was a little painful. So I’ve been here rehabbging it, and it has been feeling better the past couple of weeks.
“I just want to be back to where I should be at. I’m just going through the rehab, and I look forward to getting back real soon. I definitely want to get back before the season starts, and that’s what we’re pointing to right now.”
Although Gordon was privy to Williams’ system last system, he played in only nine games. Nonetheless, he said the familiarity will help.
Williams said things have changed somewhat with the offensive system, with eight new players who will be on the roster, but that Gordon’s experience and offensive prowess should make his getting acclimated less difficult.
“I’m sure it’s going to take him a bit of a period where he gets up to speed, but he knows how to play the game,” Williams said. “So pick and rolls are the same to him, and he’s always been able to shoot.”
Meanwhile, Davis was aggressive in practice and will play Thursday at Atlanta. Williams is not so sure with Smith and Henry. Williams said Tuesday morning’s practice will tell him a lot.
However, he is glad to have four practice days between games.
“It’s a big difference from last year, when we played two preseason games (because of the lockout) and we were right into (the season) and played every other day for about a month. So we’ve been able to put in some more sets and work on execution and conditioning.”
Coming off Friday’s lackluster performance at Houston, forward Ryan Anderson said practice has gotten “a little bit more hard-nosed.”
“If we messed up before (in practice), we really tried to correct it, but (Monday) we were going to get it done, we were going to get it right, or else we were not going to move on to the next things. It was know plays, know defensive rotations.”
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