CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Eric Gordon made his return to the lineup Saturday night. And for the better part of 24 minutes, he looked as if he'd never been away.
Gordon had 24 points and seven assists, helping the New Orleans Hornets overcome a 21-point first-half deficit and extend the Charlotte Bobcats' losing streak to 18 games with a 98-95 victory Saturday night.
The Bobcats are one game away from a winless December. They haven't won since Nov. 24 and are closing in on their franchise-record 23-game losing streak to close the 2011-12 season.
Gordon, who hadn't played since April 22 following arthroscopic right knee surgery, was 5 of 13 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free throw line. He had two steals and two turnovers.
"I felt pretty good, I was kind of surprised," Gordon said. "Now I'm just going to try to get better and better from here. I wouldn't have had a chance to help this team earlier with my knee, but I'm glad everything is working out now."
Ryan Anderson had 19 points and made a pair of 3-pointers in the final period as the Hornets won for the second time in three games.
Anderson was all smiles after the game.
"I haven't had open looks like that in quite a while," he said.
On a late possession, Gordon drove the lane drawing attention from defenders and passed the ball outside where Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer to push New Orleans' lead to six.
Roger Mason, who had all 13 points in the second half, added another 3-pointer on the next possession because of the attention the Bobcats were paying to Gordon.
Anderson said those are the tough moments defenders will be forced to contend with when they face the Hornets the rest of the way.
"He's a special player," Anderson said of Gordon. "There are not a lot of guys like him in the NBA. He hasn't quit warmed up to be 100 percent comfortable yet with this group on the court, but to come out and take over like that, that is the mark of a special player."
Hornets coach Monty Williams said he didn't expect that type of production from Gordon in his first game back.
"I certainly thought he would be able to help guys and make guys better," Williams said. "But I didn't think he'd score 24 points. His defense will get better the more he gets in shape."
The Bobcats had two chances to tie the game after the Hornets threw the ball away with 11 seconds left, but Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions both missed 3-pointers in the closing seconds.