The Hornets were competitive in Utah into the third quarter on Friday, but things fell apart in the fourth when the team managed to score just 16 points in an eventual 12-point loss to the Jazz.
The points might have come easier had Eric Gordon, the team’s leading scorer, actually been in the game.
Gordon was subbed out, however, with 8:37 to play in the third and did not return, thanks to a shouting match that occurred on the sidelines between him and his head coach, Monty Williams.
From Andrew Aragon of NBA.com:
Hornets coach Monty Williams and point guard Eric Gordon got into a screaming match during a timeout with 8:37 left in the third quarter. Millsap had just scored on a putback to put Utah ahead 55-47 and New Orleans called a timeout. Williams was visibly agitated, yelling in Gordon’s direction. He had to be held back by assistant coach Randy Ayers after Gordon hollered back at him, and when the team went to the sidelines, Williams continued screaming at Gordon.
New Orleans is finishing up a dismal campaign that has the team at 26-50 with just six games remaining in the regular season. The last thing it needs is public friction between its max player and head coach in the little time that’s left.
Gordon has appeared in just 36 games for the Hornets this year due to injury, and is averaging 16.5 points and 3.1 assists in 29.5 minutes per game this season. He has three more guaranteed years left on a contract that will pay him more than $14 million in each of the next two seasons, and over $15 million in 2016.