Remember Eric Gordon? Smooth scoring two-guard out of Indiana that made up for his lack of height, with a quick first step and handle that would make your Pinterest-obsessed significant other, remark on how crafty he is. (whooo that’s a bar) You might remember him as the player tapped to be the Kelly Rowland to Anthony Davis’ Beyonce, but then after a couple injury-plagued years, fled the basketball purgatory known as New Orleans, to finally have a choice in where he plays. Whatever your level of familiarity, Eric Gordon is forcefully re-introducing himself to our collective conscience and *GASP* helping his team, the Houston Rockets, win at the same time.
It was December 1st, a nationally televised game between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. On the heels of a Warriors 12-game win streak, in which Klay Thompson seemed to have found his lost jumper and had Javale McGee playing meaningful minutes (that’s not a dream you’re having, Javale “Rattail” McGee has been really out here getting minutes on a team that has possibly the greatest offense ever), one would assume this would go like previous matchups between these Western Conference foes. Except what happened was quite the opposite, Stephen Curry came out cold and got into early foul trouble, while players like Montrezl Harrell turned the Dubs frontcourt into props for his dunk contest audition video. What made this even more shocking of a loss for Golden State was that James Harden did not have a particularly great game, as he finished with 7 turnovers and a true shooting percentage of .497 (and just in case you’re wondering, that’s not a good thing). So how does a team who relies so heavily on the Bearded Wonder to make plays, win on a night when their superstar is a bit less than, well, super? Answer: Eric Gordon (yeah okay, Ryan Anderson actually had the better game but I need the reader to feign ignorance right now for the benefit of my larger point). It seemed that every time James Harden left the game and Gordon entered, it was as if he did the whole “I’m the captain now” bit from Captain Phillips, taking the reins of the offense, and reminding us why the Clippers took him so high way back in 2008. And it wasn’t just the numbers that should jump out to you (TSP of .579 and offensive rating of 111), the optics of it all were the best part. Eric Gordon was pulling out all the tricks in the bag, with a series of hesitations and crossovers that left the casual basketball fan asking themselves, “Hey who’s this Eric Gordon character? He’s not half bad.” Steph Curry? The MVP was getting slow cooked by Eric Gordon, as if Eric was getting started early on Christmas dinner, and he was in charge of the roast.
As of December 10th, 2016, the Houston Rockets are on a 6 game winning streak, which has them presently slated as the third seed in the west. A big reason for that is the re-emergence of one, Eric Gordon, who has proven himself to not only be the forerunner for 6th Man of the Year (sorry Lou Williams, Lakers won’t win enough games this year), but also an adequate side to Harden’s main dish. Over the last 7 games, Gordon has made 33 of his 62 three-point attempts to the tune of 53%, while averaging roughly 21 points and 3.4 assists, for a team in desperate need of someone to ease the colossal burden on James Harden’s shoulders. This type of hot shooting streak is not sustainable by any stretch of imagination, yet if even Gordon hovers around the low .400s for the rest of the season, it would be his second best shooting season ever. Most importantly H-Town fans should be encouraged, for it appears that the normally fragile Eric Gordon has found the elixir to his injury woes, as #10 has been roughly playing 31 minutes per contest and missed only 1 game this season ( for reference, over the last 5 seasons, Gordon has missed around 30 games per year). If Gordon can stay healthy, and that’s a Donatas Motiejunas sized “if,” expect the Rockets to have a seed in the top half of the Western Conference, which means you can pencil them in for at least the second round. That might be a lot to expect, given how woeful Houston was this past season, underachieving in ways that turned all of basketball twitter against James Harden (yes, I blame basketball twitter for Harden not making ANY of the All-NBA teams, which is almost as ridiculous as Kobe Bryant finishing 4th in the MVP voting in the same year he averaged 35 a game. I promise I am no longer bitter over that oversight). But these are not your Dwight Howard Rockets, and a good portion of that as of late has been due to the contributions of one man. Allow #10 to re-introduce himself, his name is Eric Gordon.
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