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Eric Gordon Disappearing Late for New Orleans Hornets

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COMMENTARY | When Eric Gordon made his New Orleans Hornets debut in the 2011-12 season opener, he hit a late shot to defeat the Phoenix Suns. Since then, Gordon has had a few other big moments late in games for the Hornets. But in his last five games, Gordon has been virtually nonexistent in the second half for New Orleans and especially in the fourth quarter.

Five games is not a large sample size. However, it does indicate a trend. And with Gordon missing so many games due to injury, every moment he spends on the court seems like a luxury for the Hornets.

The strange thing about Eric Gordon's last five games is that his overall totals look good. In fact, his first half performances are quite prolific for New Orleans. However, in watching every game and doing more research, a different picture emerges.

Check out Gordon's bizarre scoring totals for New Orleans in his last five games.

2/22/2013: 23 points: 20 in the first half, 3 in the third quarter, 0 in the fourth quarter

2/24/2013: 17 points: 11 in the first half, 6 in the third quarter, 0 in the fourth quarter

2/26/2013: 10 points: 6 in the first half, 4 in the third quarter, 0 in the fourth quarter

3/1/2013: 21 points: 18 in the first half, 0 in the third quarter, 3 in the fourth quarter

3/4/2013: 17 points: 12 in the first half, 5 in the third quarter, 0 in the fourth quarter

Yes, that's right. In his last five games, Eric Gordon has scored a grand total of three points in the fourth quarter! And in case anyone who doesn't follow the Hornets is wondering, Gordon did play extensively in each of those fourth quarters. New Orleans head coach Monty Williams typically rests his starting guards for the first three to five minutes of the fourth quarter, so Gordon was on the floor for most of those final periods.

In Gordon's defense, these statistics lend credence to what he and the Hornets have been saying about him not being in basketball shape due to his extensive knee rehab early in the season. Perhaps he's worn out by halftime and doesn't have the stamina to play with as much energy late in games for the Hornets.

However, as cautiously as New Orleans treats Gordon's health, I don't believe he'd be on the floor if Monty Williams didn't think he could contribute to the team. Lately, he's been driving to the goal and running fast breaks in the first half like nobody has for the Hornets since Chris Paul.

But in the second half, Gordon looks indecisive, settles for outside shots, and commits charging fouls when he does drive to the basket. In one recent Hornets loss, he also committed several turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Whenever Hornets management talks about Eric Gordon, they only speak of him in glowing terms. I believe Tom Benson, Mickey Loomis, Dell Demps, and Monty Williams would give anything for Gordon to validate their matching the Suns' max contract to him. But with every passing day, it becomes harder and harder to visualize Gordon playing in New Orleans for the entirety of his current contract.

Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.

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