Eric Gordon hadn't played in an NBA game in exactly three months, but showed no rust on Wednesday, knocking down two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to lift the Hornets to a 94-92 victory over the Nuggets at New Orleans Arena.
Gordon, who was a key component in the December trade that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, last played on Jan. 4 against Philadelphia before undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 14 after he suffered a bruised right knee in the team's season opener.
The Hornets led by five on Chris Kaman's putback with 36.5 second left, but Ty Lawson finished a layup and, after a Gordon turnover, Al Harrington buried a three-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 92.
Gordon then redeemed himself as he drove right and got Arron Afflalo airborne before drawing the contact and sinking both at the charity stripe.
Denver had a final possession, but Afflalo's inbounds pass was intercepted by Jason Smith to secure the home victory for the Hornets.
Gordon finished with 15 points in his return, Trevor Ariza added 15 as well, and Kaman tallied 14 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Lawson poured in a game-high 22 points, Afflalo netted 15 and Harrington added 14 off the bench, but the Nuggets wrapped up their seven-game road trip under .500 at 3-4.
Denver and Houston are both 29-25, but the Rockets occupy the seventh spot in the Western Conference while the Nuggets are eighth, one game in front of Phoenix.
A tightly-contested first half found the Nuggets holding a 46-45 advantage heading into the locker room but a 10-2 start in the third put the Hornets on top 55-48.
Harrington opened the fourth quarter with a trey to cut the Denver deficit to 75-70, but a 9-3 sprint from New Orleans found the home team on top 84-73 with 8:24 remaining in the game.
Later, Kenneth Faried tallied five straight points to spark a 9-1 surge from the Nuggets as they trailed 89-87 with 3:06 left in the fourth.
The Nuggets will host the Suns on Friday, while the Hornets will travel to San Antonio on Friday before a starting a five-game home stand against Minnesota on Saturday...Hornets guard Jarret Jack missed the game due to a foot injury and Greivis Vasquez started in his place. Vasquez finished with 11 points and 10 assists.