Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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NEW ORLEANS Eric Gordon is expected to play tonight when the Hornets host Denver, the shooting guard's first game since Jan. 4 and only his third game of the year.

But don't look at the next 13 games as an on-court interview for the third-year player.

Coach Monty Williams said he knows what the youngster can do.

'I've seen him play enough,' Williams said Wednesday morning after shoot-around. 'I know he's capable of being an All-Star some day. These games won't change how I feel about this game.'

Instead, Williams will use the 25-30 minutes he expects Gordon to play to see how he works with point guard Jarrett Jack and center Chris Kaman.

'Those kinds of things are more important to me than evaluating how many points, rebounds and assists,' Williams said. 'I'd like to see him lock some guys up. I'm excited to see that because I don't think understand how good he is on defense.'

Gordon, who will start against Denver, missed 52 games with a knee injury, one that eventually required surgery.

He played in the season opener against Phoenix, scoring 20 points on 50 percent shooting. But then he missed four games with a bruised knee before playing again on Jan. 4 against Philadelphia, putting up 22 points while grabbing six rebounds.

Gordon doesn't feel like doctors misdiagnosed his injury, saying that the loose cartilage didn't show up on multiple MRIs.

Now that he has had a long lay-off, the question is how his game will respond.

Yet, while Williams said this isn't a proving period for Gordon, the player disagrees.

'It is for me personally,' Gordon said. 'They know how I play. They know my game. It just depends on how comfortable they are with me being here.'

Williams didn't hint at expectations for Gordon, saying only that he doesn't want to put pressure on him right now.

As is, Gordon's conditioning will keep him from being crisp, Williams said.

'I think fatigue has a way of making a punk out of everybody,' Williams said. 'He could struggle with remembering stuff or knowing the right reads, especially on defense.'

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