Chris who? Eric Gordon hits game winner in Hornets debut

Published: December 26, 2011

For 47 minutes and 55 seconds Eric Gordon had a tough time finding his stroke from the outside, but he hit the one that counted with less than five seconds on the clock to give the Hornets a 85-84 victory in their season debut. Gordon got to the bucket early and often, slicing up the Suns defense in the lane on his way to a team high 20 points, but his jumper was slightly off all night. Coach Williams kept the faith, however, as he drew up an isolation play for Gordon with the game on the line. Gordon sized up Jared Dudley, who was playing Gordon to drive, and stuck the twenty foot jumper for what turned out to be the game winner.

Prior to that shot, only one of Gordon’s eight made field goals had come outside of the paint and he was 0 for 6 on the night from behind the arc. But that was the kind of night it was for the Hornets offense, a series of ups and downs where bright spots were quickly followed by head scratching plays. Six Hornets scored in double digits, including newly acquired Greivis Vasquez and backup center Chris Kaman, but those two also combined for 8 of the Hornets 13 turnovers.

The team was horrible from behind the arc (2-16) and at the line (62%), but they were able to stay in the game by forcing turnovers that lead to easy points and by getting 42 points in the paint against a soft Phoenix front line. It was clear that the Hornets half court offense is a work in progress, but the defense kept them in the game by holding Phoenix to under 40% shooting from the field and just 20% from behind the arc.

Outside of Steve Nash’s brilliant four minute stretch in the third quarter, the only real bright spot for Phoenix was backup center Robin Lopez, who went for a game high 21 points in just 27 minutes. Lopez took advantage of the Hornets early when they paired Jason Smith and Chris Kaman in the front court to match up with Lopez and rookie Markieff Morris. The Suns second unit dominated the Hornets on the boards and that got Lopez some easy buckets that got him going. Lopez continued to dominate as long as Kaman was in the game.

Monty made defense a priority in the final two minutes, substituting Okafor in for Kaman, which resulted in stops on the final three Phoenix posessions. And although it will be overshadowed by his offense, Eric Gordon’s defense might have been just as big on the final play of the game as he denied Steve Nash the ball off of an interesting give and go play that Alvin Gentry had set up coming out of a timeout.

It was an ugly win, but quite possibly a perfect start to the Hornets season as this team effort was punctuated by a new leader who rose to the challenge and, for at least one night, made us all forget those who have recently departed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.