Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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Eric Gordon isn't a magician after all.

The Hornets haven't suddenly become one of the best teams in the league upon his return.

Really, no one should have expected as much, either.

But his first game back, an enchanting 24-point in 25-minute performance, showed the potential that he has when he plays.

And, listening to Hornets coach Monty Williams, you're not alone if you thought Gordon would come and change New Orleans.

'I think everyone was waiting on Eric to do something, be Superman,' Williams said, minutes after his Hornets dropped a 95-86 decision to Atlanta.

In fact, he's not a super hero, even if his basketball skills are exponentially better than yours and mine.

After the game in the locker room, he sat in a chair in front of his locker, both knees wrapped in ice and his abdomen covered in the frozen stuff, too.

There's no question Gordon can be a game-changer.

Rookie Anthony Davis, in two games, has seen just what Gordon can do.

'He's attacking the rim, finding the open guy and knocking down shots,' Davis said. 'The game, ... , the floor is more open and spread out just because he's a threat and guys have to play him. It benefits all.'

That's all fine and good, but what got the Hornets in trouble prior to Gordon's return crept up again Tuesday against Atlanta.

There's not enough defense and very little help other than Ryan Anderson. And the third quarter? Lord almighty, that's a different story for another day.

This time, New Orleans scored only 14 points in the first 12 minutes after the break and shot only 37.5 percent while allowing Atlanta to get 28 points on 63.2 percent shooting.

That's not on Gordon. That's on everyone.

The first step, the saying goes, is admitting there's a problem and in talking with Gordon's teammates, they certainly recognize the issue.

'We've got to ease him back into the rotation really help him out on offense and on defense,' Hornets forward Jason Smith said. 'He's going out there and he's playing aggressive but we have to continue to do our part. That's something we have to get better at.'

What Tuesday night proved more than Gordon's status in the pantheon of super heroes is that the Hornets have many more problems than whether he plays or not.

The good news for New Orleans is that Gordon does give them a better shot at being a better team. He has practiced only three times this season and played in only two games. He's not in game condition yet and isn't playing as much as he will.

His flashes of brilliance have been breathtaking; his penetrations to the lane and to the basket something the Hornets have been missing.

He and his teammates are still getting acclimated to each other and the flow of the game when he's in.

If Tuesday showed that the Hornets need more than Gordon to be better, Saturday's win at Charlotte showed that he also can be the difference in truly close games and a spark to put his teammates over the top.

Now it's just up to his teammates to help him out, allowing maybe, just maybe, to become Superman.

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