Gordon, who came to the Hornets in the pre-season trade that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, had not played since Jan. 4 due to a knee injury. He wound up having arthroscopic surgery Feb. 14.
While playing 34 minutes, Gordon made just 3-of-11 from the field. He hit 7-of-9 from the line, however, and scored 15 points.
Al Harrington hit a 3-pointer for Denver to tie the game with 10 seconds left but Gordon drew a foul from Arron Afflalo while shooting and he came through at the charity stripe.
Trevor Ariza also had 15 points for the Hornets, who ended a three-game skid.
Ty Lawson led Denver with 22 points and Afflalo had 15. The Nuggets dropped into a tie with Houston for seventh and eighth place in the Western Conference.