Eric Gordon and New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams got into a shouting match on Friday in their game against the Utah Jazz, prompting Williams to bench his starting guard for the rest of the game, according to NBA.com. The verbal altercation was apparently intense enough for Hornets assistant coach Randy Ayers to hold back Williams, who had called a timeout early in the third quarter of the 95-83 loss.
After turning the ball over twice leading into the timeout, Gordon didn't return to the game following the blowup. His final line read 18 minutes played, seven points and three turnovers.
The Times-Picayune reports that Gordon will likely return to the starting lineup Sunday night as New Orleans faces the Suns in Phoenix. Gordon told the newspaper that he wasn't sure why he was benched on Friday, but he noted that it wasn't because of injury. Neither the guard, the coach nor the team discussed the shouting match, but Gordon voiced his displeasure about sitting out in the second half.
"I thought we were (in a good flow)," Gordon told The Times-Picayune. "You always make adjustments throughout the game. We're down at halftime by two points, and two or three possessions (in the third quarter), I'm out of there. I'd love to figure (it) out. You always want to do what's best for the team. Since he took me out, he took me out. I definitely wanted to be out there for sure.''
Gordon leads the Hornets in scoring at 16.5 points per game this season, but the fan base in New Orleans seems to be growing more discontent with the star guard each day.
He's shooting just 40.2 percent on the season and 32.2 percent from three-point range.
Worsening the confidence in Gordon has been his rash of injuries. The 6'3 guard has missed 40 of the Hornets' 76 games played this season after signing a four-year, $58 million offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason. The Hornets matched the deal for the restricted free agent, but they did so after Gordon went public with his wish that New Orleans not do so. Gordon said in a letter that his "heart was in Phoenix."
The fifth-year pro and seventh overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft has yet to make an All-Star appearance, and New Orleans has reportedly been open to trading him, according to The Times-Picayune.