Hornets’ ‘go-to-guy’ returns in Eric Gordon

DALLAS– Greivis Vasquez has had a heck of a year for the New Orleans Hornets. His averages of 14 points, 9 assists and 4.5 rebounds through 33 games accurately portray that undisputed fact. But until recently, the third-year guard has been the Hornets’ only option to take a final shot down the stretch.

But with the recent return of Eric Gordon, who hit a huge, game-winner with 4.7 seconds left in a 99-96 overtime win at Dallas on Saturday, the ex-Terrapin is definitely glad to have someone else on the floor who can help him shoulder the load a bit as the team’s go-to-guy at crunch time.

“I think by Eric being back, he’s going to be able to close games out for us because we’ve already been in games. That’s what he does,” Vasquez said.

Through three games, including one start in Saturday’s game against Dallas, Gordon is averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals and rebounds. Those are solid numbers for the 25-year-old Indiana native, but he knows he still has a ways to go before he is his pre-injury self.

“Yeah, I’m still working my way back. This is just my third game. I was just thrown out there without being in full shape and not 100 percent,” he said. “It’s good to see us striving to get some wins. I would say we’re definitely getting better.”

Gordon had struggled through much of regulation and was just 1-for-10 from the field with six points through the end of regulation. But in the extra frame, he came alive, draining all three shots he attempted including a crucial free throw after an improbable bank shot with 4.7 seconds left in OT to give the Hornets a two-point lead.

Delivering at crunch time was a hot topic of conversation in the Hornets’ locker room postgame for the seventh overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft who played in just nine games for New Orleans last season due to injury.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a confidence booster, just to do well in overtime. This was on its way to being my worst game since I’ve been here,” Gordon said. “It’s good to overcome something like that.”

Hornets head coach Monty Williams is definitely glad to have the veteran guard back in the fold but not just for his ability to make big shots when they count the most. “He’s a guy that can score the ball. He can shoot threes, attack the basket, get to the free throw line. He can defend one-on-one about as good as anybody in the league at his position,” Williams said. “He’s a really good passer. He adds a lot to our team.”

New Orleans is still just 8-25 and remains last in the Western Conference standings but not only do the Hornets now have their entire roster healthy, but they also have arguably the team’s best player back and nearly back to full health, which is definitely cause for celebration in the Big Easy.

“He’s been great off the court,” Hornets center Robin Lopez said. “So with Eric back on the court, I don’t see why we can’t have some success.”