By most measures, 2019-20 has been the most frustrating year of Eric Gordon's career.
Gordon missed 36 games due to knee surgery and a smattering of leg injuries, and he finished the regular season shooting a career-worst 36.9% from the field. But it’s fair to assume Gordon would trade any regular-season struggles for his standout performance in Game 7 on Wednesday.
Gordon led all Rockets with 21 points in Houston’s 104-102 victory, serving as a catalyst in the first half with four threes. The performance marked a return to form for the Indiana product, who had previously served as an effective Swiss Army knife in previous postseasons. That version of Gordon was on full display in Game 7.
“Obviously we needed every one of [Gordon's threes]. Robert Covington, too, the threes he hit were unbelievable," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said postgame. "[James Harden] didn't have a good shooting night, but they picked up the slack.”
Gordon’s performance in Game 7 should breed confidence for Houston as they approach a matchup with the top-seeded Lakers. The Rockets will need its trio of guards to score at a high clip to keep up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and their pair of MVPs—Harden and Russell Westbrook—have found success against Los Angeles in the regular season. Harden has a chance to light it up beyond the arc. Westbrook will continue to attack the rim with a fury. Gordon provides the best of both worlds, balancing the Rockets offense depending on which superstar is on the floor.
The Rockets wouldn’t be in round two without Gordon’s contributions. They won’t beat the Lakers if he can’t come close to replicating his Game 7 performance over the next two weeks.