NEW ORLEANS — Playing at the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, the New Orleans Hornets are on the last leg of fruitless four-game road trip that has pushed their losing streak to nine games.
However, there is good news in the form of Eric Gordon’s expected imminent return to the team. Gordon, who has been rehabilitating his sore right knee in Los Angeles the past six weeks, said late Wednesday night before the Hornets (5-20) lost to the Clippers that he expects to return this weekend and play again “before the end of the month.”
It will mark a good Christmas present for the Hornets and good birthday present for Gordon, who was born on Dec. 25.
Gordon, who had knee surgery in February, was declared indefinitely out before the Hornets’ season opener against the Spurs on Oct. 31 after rehabbing the knee in the weeks before training camp began Oct. 2.
He has not played in a preseason or regular-season game this season after playing just nine games last season. The Hornets matched a four-year, $58 million deal with the Phoenix Suns to retain him.
“We decided to send him to a facility in Los Angeles where he can get the individual attention he needs,” general manager Dell Demps said.
The Hornets return home Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers, the fourth back-to-back game since Dec. 8.
Friday night, however, the Hornets are playing the Spurs (19-8), who have lost their past two games, at Oklahoma City on Monday and at Denver on Tuesday, and have lost four of their past five. San Antonio’s last win came against Boston at home on Dec. 16. The Spurs have played 17 games on the road, going 11-6.
The Hornets lost 99-95 in the first meeting, with San Antonio able to escape on the strength of an uncharacteristic 3-pointer by point guard Tony Parker with 46 seconds left.
Despite their tough early schedule and recent struggles, the Spurs have the Southwest Division’s second-best record.
Hornets coach Monty Williams said the Spurs’ slide of late doesn’t mean much.
“(The Spurs’ main players) have been together for a long time and have great chemistry,” Williams said. “They’ve won championships together.”
Pacers forward Danny Granger, who prepped at Grace King High School, is out until February with a knee injury. However, Paul George proved to be more than a sufficient replacement when the Hornets played at Indiana on Nov. 21. The Pacers won 115-107 in overtime in large part because George scored 37 points, including a franchise-record nine 3-pointers.
Center Roy Hibbert had a triple-double, including 11 blocked shots. However, George’s impact was the key. He scored 33 points in the second half, including all of his 3-pointers, and had 11 points in the fourth quarter.
He is averaging 16.5 points per game. Before that game, he averaged 13.4 points in 12 games. Including the victory against the Hornets, he has averaged 19.2 points since.
The Pacers, located in Gordon’s hometown of Indianapolis, had won four of five heading into Friday night’s game at Cleveland.
Hornets fans also will get their first live glimpse of forward Dominic McGuire, 6-foot-9, who was signed on Sunday with backup center/power forward Jason Smith out with a sprained right shoulder. McGuire was drafted from Fresno State in 2007 in the second round by the Washington Wizards and also has played with Sacramento, Charlotte and Golden State.