NEW ORLEANS — For the Hornets, it’s the second of back-to-back games and the first road game of the season.
For prized rookie Anthony Davis, it’s would have been his third consecutive home game. but he won’t be able to play because of a concussion-type injury suffered Friday against Utah.
Today’s game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center is a trip home for Davis, who prepped at Perspectives Charter High School in Chicago, where he averaged an eye-popping 32 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocked shots per game as a senior.
Davis is returning to the site of a special moment for him. On March 30, 2011, he played in the McDonald’s All-American game at the United Center. Playing before a sold-out crowd, Davis had 14 points, six rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals, but his East team lost 111-96. It was perhaps the firsts time the nation saw this phenom who had grown from a 6-foot-3 guard to a 6-11 post player and shot up rating boards for prospects seemingly overnight.
“That is the only time that I’ve played (at the United Center), but this is going to be special,” he said.
“The McDonald’s game is an all-star game; this time you care more about winning and losing. I’m looking forward to it.”
Davis said there will be so many family members and friends attending that he couldn’t put a number on it.
“I’ll only be focused on the 10 guys on the court,” he said. “Playing well against an elite team like the Jazz did give me a confidence boosts, so I’ll just relax and play my game.”
Davis said he’s enjoying the start of his career with the Hornets in New Orleans as the way things are unfolding. But he does think about home sometimes.
“I miss the food,” he said. “I miss Beggar’s Pizza. It’s some awesome pizza, man.”
After his freshman year at Kentucky, he became the fifth Chicago native to be selected the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, joining Derrick Rose (2008), Mark Aguirre (1981), LaRue Martin (’72) and Cazzie Russell (’66).
He said he is very proud of being part of that legacy and of having been an outstanding player in the Windy City, known as one of the top high school hoop beds in America.
Like many players in cities with NBA teams, playing against the Bulls will be a dream.
“I was a huge Bulls fan growing up, like everybody there,” said Davis, who like Michael Jordan wears No. 23. “They had had Mike (Jordan) and of course had won big.
“It’d be nice if we can go up there and win.”
Guard Eric Gordon will miss four to six weeks after conferring with a knee specialist in Chicago.
An MRI revealed damage to the knee, but no surgery is needed.
Coach Monty Williams said before Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz that his team has to move forward.
“We’re going to miss his 20 points-plus per game,” Williams said. “We just have to have guys step up.”
Williams said that at this time, the Hornets were not looking to trade to add another scorer.
It was announced at Wednesday’s shoot-around before the Hornets’ season opener against San Antonio that Gordon would be sidelined “indefinitely.”
He disclosed Thursday that there was some damage to the knee, but did not divulge specifics.
The timetable for his being out puts his return at early to mid December.
Gordon was excused from Friday’s shoot around because he was “undergoing further evaluations by medical staff,” Hornets spokesman Harold Kaufman said.
Gordon missed 57 of 66 games last season due to his right knee. He had arthroscopic surgery in February to remove loose cartilage particles.
Last week, the Hornets exercised the option on point guard Greivis Vasquez for the 2013-14 season.
However, it appears the team has declined the option on small forward Al-Farouq Aminu for next season and the following one, making him an unrestricted free agent after the season.
That could be a positive or a negative for Aminu, of course, depending on how well he plays this season. Based on training camp and preseason games, he did not look as though he warranted the $3.73 million he was due next season and certainly not the $5.054 million he was scheduled to get for the 2013-14 season.
However, in the opener against San Antonio, he started the season off like a man on a mission. Coach Williams said that if Aminu plays consistently the way he played against the Spurs, that would w make him and his staff very happy. Not as happy as it would make Aminu, however, who would have tremendous leverage and opportunity.
The future also is now for another Hornet, 30-year-old forward Hakim Warrick, who also is in the last year of his contract. However, Warrick likely will not be able to decide his own fate. With all the good, young forwards on the Hornets’ roster, there just aren’t any playing minutes for a veteran who is not a true power forward or small forward.
Oddly, Warrick’s tenure with the Hornets could be tied to Aminu. If Aminu struggles, the team may be forced to make a trade to man such an important position. Warrick’s expiring contract would be valuable along with that of Aminu.
Jazz guard Mo Williams (Murrah High School) and power forward Al Jefferson (Prentiss High) are from Jackson, Miss. However, Williams said he did not see this as a trip home, even though New Orleans is the nearest NBA city to his hometown.
“It’s just 2½ hours (drive) from New Orleans, but I know the building will be full of Saints and Hornets fans cheering for their team,” Williams said.
Before the game vs. San Antonio, Williams said he had spoken with the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, for whom he played during his career, about coaching a young team.
Williams would not divulge what Popovich told him.
Asked what he told Williams, Popovich paused, then said, “It takes time.”