Pity the poor Bobcats, losers of 18 straight. They had a 21-point lead and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (22 PTS, 9 REB) was outplaying his Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis (8 PTS, 10 REB, 3 BLK). Then Eric Gordon took over. In his first game of the year after knee problems, Gordon scored 17 of his 24 in the second half to inspire the Hornets’ comeback. Ryan Anderson (19 PTS, 8 REB) and Roger Mason (13 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST) also got hot when it counted. If Gordon can stay healthy, Mason and Austin Rivers (scoreless in 13 minutes) will battle for backup minutes and New Orleans will be vastly improved.
Other December 29 Games
IND @ ATL: Even without Josh Smith (hip), the Hawks were terrific. Zaza Pachulia (17 PTS, 14 REB) started at C, and Al Horford (20 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST) slid over to PF and showed no signs of his own sore hip. Louis Williams (21 PTS, 12 AST) notched his first career double-double. Sweet, Lou. The Pacers got 29 from David West, but Roy Hibbert’s nightmare season hit rock bottom. Scoreless in 20+ minutes, he was replaced by Ian Mahinmi (13 PTS, 3 BLK) early in the third.
TOR @ ORL: A point guard ‘controversy’ is a bad thing only when both men are unhappy. When both are playing great, and making their teammates better, two PG are better than one. Starter Jose Calderon (15 PTS, 10 AST) played 24:20 while Kyle Lowry (16 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB) got 22:46 off the bench. Orlando was without both Jameer Nelson (hip) and E’Twaun Moore (elbow) so third-stringer Ish Smith (13 PTS, 6 AST) started at the point. Hedo Turkoglu had 8 PTS, 5 REB and 3 AST in his return from a broken hand, but the best Magic player was rookie Andrew Nicholson (22 PTS, 8 REB), who could continue to start at PF ahead of Gustavo Ayon until Glen Davis (shoulder) returns.
OKC @ HOU: Tired in a back-to-back against two of the league’s best teams, Houston turned the ball over 24 times, had nine FG attempts blocked and shot less than 40% in a blowout loss. James Harden still had 25 points, and Marcus Morris (24 PTS, 6 REB) wants to keep the starting PF job, even when Patrick Patterson is able to go full speed again. Russell Westbrook (28 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL) would have triple-doubled if he was needed longer than 30 minutes, and ex-Rocket Kevin Martin added 19 off the bench.