New Orleans will look different to the Jazz than they have in the teams’ previous three matchups when they play Friday.
No, the Hornets haven’t become the Pelicans just yet.
Instead, the Jazz (39-37) are bracing for their first look of the season at guard Eric Gordon, after the high-scoring guard was injured for earlier games. The Jazz are 2-1 against the Hornets this season and need a win Friday to remain relevant in the playoff race.
Both Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams are plenty familiar with Gordon. Hayward grew up near Indianapolis, Gordon’s hometown, and Williams and Gordon were teammates with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“He’s very talented,” Williams said, “especially when he’s healthy. He’s explosive, aggressive, does a lot of things good on the basketball court.”
Gordon averages 16.8 points and 3.1 assists in 35 games with the Hornets in a season ravaged by injuries and a belief that the former University of Indiana guard would be happier playing elsewhere.
Regardless, Gordon combines with Anthony Davis, Greivis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson to create a Hornets team even more potent that then one that defeated the Jazz on Nov. 2 in New Orleans.
Hayward said he and Gordon work out occasionally in the summers in Indiana.
“I’ve seen him play since high school,” he said. “... He’s a game-changing type guy with his explosiveness and the way he can attack the rim and also the way he can shoot it. It’s going to be key to make sure we can contain him and make sure he doesn’t get to the basket.”
The Jazz have won five of their last six games, but a 113-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday snapped a five-game winning streak and dropped the Jazz to ½ a game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for eighth in the Western Conference.
The Lakers (39-36) host the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center.