NEW ORLEANS — Eric Gordon scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the New Orleans Hornets won their first game under prospective new owner Tom Benson, 96-85 over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Chris Kaman added 19 points as the Hornets won for the third time in four games while delivering a critical loss to the Jazz, who entered the night 1 1/2 games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Hours earlier, Benson, the longtime owner of the NFL's Saints, agreed to buy the Hornets from the NBA, virtually assuring the club's long-term presence in New Orleans. Then Gordon returned from a two-game absence caused by back soreness and made the difference on the court as the Hornets won their second straight.
Paul Millsap scored 27 points for Utah, while Al Jefferson had 19. Derrick Favors added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz.
Greivis Vasquez and Al-Farouq Aminu each scored 11 points for the Hornets, who shot 55 percent (38 of 69).
Utah shot 45.2 percent (33 of 73) and went only 2 of 11 from 3-point range, but still led 82-81 after Jamaal Tinsley's floater in the lane in the middle of the fourth quarter.
New Orleans then stormed ahead for good when Jason Smith's jumper started a 13-0 run.
Gordon scored the last seven points of the run on a driving layup through a crowd, a 3-pointer and a 23-foot step-back jumper that he set up with repeated between-the-legs dribbles that seemed to mesmerize Utah's Gordon Hayward. The run gave New Orleans a 92-82 lead with 2:18 to go, and Utah could not recover.
The Hornets led most of the third quarter, when Kaman scored 10 of his points on an array of layups and jump shots as deep as 14 feet. But the gap remained single digits and Utah briefly tied it at 68 on Millsap's fast-break layup. The Hornets scored the next five points on Greivis' jumper and Landry's three-point play on a basket inside as he was fouled, then Favors threw down a driving dunk to trim New Orleans lead to 73-70 heading into the final period.
Neither team led by more than seven points in a first half that included nine lead changes and nine ties. Millsap had 14 of his points in the first points in the first quarter alone. Gordon, returning after a two-game absence because of back soreness, scored 11 of his points in the first half, which ended in a 47-all tie.
NOTES: Fans in the New Orleans Arena clapped when Hornets radio announcer Sean Kelley mentioned the purchase of the club by Benson during his pregame show, which is played over the arena's public address system. ... Smith was called for a technical foul for arguing in the fourth quarter, and Hornets coach Monty Williams was called for another for arguing minutes later. ... Utah fell to 10-22 on the road. ... Favors now has 10 double-doubles. ... The Hornets won two of three games against Utah this season.