NEW ORLEANS — As expected, Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon’s name was prominent in speculation before Thursday’s NBA trading deadline passed.
That made the timing of the team’s schedule somewhat interesting, because it was the eve of the Dallas Mavericks’ visit to New Orleans Arena for Friday’s game.
It was in the game at Dallas on Jan. 5 that Gordon showed much promise as a Hornet once again, making a three-point play with 4.7 seconds left in overtime to give them a 99-96 victory.
It was just his third game back and first start after sitting out 29 with a right patella injury — and the win came at American Airlines Arena, where Hornets teams had lost 19 of the past 20 meetings.
More important, it provided hope.
“That’s why he’s a big-time two guard in this league,” point guard Greivis Vasquez said excitedly after the game. “That’s what they do. They win games at the end.”
The popular outlook among the Hornets was that they had a closer, and it put a hop in the team’s step. That victory touched off a four-game winning streak and a stretch of six victories in seven games.
Gordon was never traded, and now the Hornets face the Mavericks again, perhaps needing another such spark as the one Gordon helped provide in the previous game — although Vasquez, with 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Ryan Anderson, with four 3-pointers, were among several who played well for New Orleans.
Coming off the All-Star break having won four of five, the Hornets have now lost back-to-back games, at home against Chicago on Tuesday and at Cleveland on Wednesday in which they surrendered 37 points in the fourth quarter and committed 13 fouls, and the starting backcourt of Vasquez and rookie Austin Rivers went scoreless in the final 12½ minutes.
Gordon, meanwhile, has missed three of the past four games. Two were because they were the second of back-to-back games, in keeping with the team’s policy in his return from the patella injury. He sat out the other — a big win against Portland, just before the All-Star break — after spraining his right hand when he ran into a teammate, he said, during shootaround the morning of the game.
In his last game, a loss to the Bulls, Gordon scored 20 points, sinking three 3-pointers. But he also contributed to four of the team’s 15 turnovers, which played a big part in New Orleans’ loss. Three of Gordon’s turnovers were in the final 4:50.
The previous meeting between the Hornets and Mavs also was the first start of the season for Dallas star forward Dirk Nowitzki. Since that game, the Mavs are 9-8. However, they are 5-2 in their past seven, including a home victory Wednesday against Orlando in which veteran guard Vince Carter dunked an alley-oop pass and sank a 3 in touching off a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter as Dallas won going away, 111-96.
In going 3-1 in its past four games, Dallas has committed 12 turnovers or fewer in each one. The Mavs average the sixth-fewest turnovers (14.1) among NBA teams this season and are seventh in the league in scoring (101.5).
Mavericks center Chris Kaman, who played for the Hornets last season, has missed the past nine games since experiencing a concussion after hitting his head on the court during practice Jan. 28.
With Friday’s game, the Hornets have four in six days, three of which are at home — tonight, Sunday vs. Sacramento and Tuesday against Brooklyn before playing at Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Friday Night Concert Series activities will take place, with music by the Top Cats at Champions Square. There will also be inflatables for children, as well as face-painting and other activities through halftime. It begins at 5:30 p.m.
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