Eric Gordon Discusses 'Sacrifice' as Rockets' Sixth-Man

Michael Shapiro

It's been anything but a smooth season for Eric Gordon. 

The Rockets' sixth-man limped out of the gate, shooting just 28.4% from three in his first nine games before undergoing right knee surgery in November. Gordon missed 22 games before returning to the lineup on Dec. 29, and he's struggled in each of the last two games. Gordon has shot over 40% in one of his last seven appearances. The Rockets are scoring just 105.5 points per 100 possessions when Gordon and James Harden share the floor. As the Rockets sputter, so does their sixth man. 

Like James Harden, there's no easy answer to Gordon's short slump. The Indiana product can be a lethal scoring option when he's playing effectively, and he was one of Houston's most reliable options against the Warriors in the 2018 and 2019 playoffs. Gordon is a dynamic floor spacer with extended range. He's quick off the bounce, and a sneaky dunker in traffic. But that skill-set isn't on full display at the moment. Gordon said he lacks "rhythm" as he eyes a return to his 2018-19 form. 

"When you come off the bench and try to find a rhythm, I’m your third playmaker. You have to sacrifice a lot when you’re in my role," Gordon told the media at the Toyota Center on Tuesday. "There might be games I might get a lot of shots. There’s going to be some I don’t."

Wednesday's matchup against the Nuggets will be Gordon's tenth game since returning from knee surgery, and Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni continues to use a 30-minute cap on the 6'4" guard. The Rockets have reached at least the Western Conference semifinals with Gordon in each of the last three seasons. His rhythm in April and May is more important than a brief January dip. Gordon will continue to preach patience, and he's not lacking in confidence, either. 

"We're too talented of a team to lose four and a row. That's just not us," Gordon said. "We're going to make the playoffs. I'm not worried about that. ...We just got to win one and move on from there."

Gordon and the Rockets will look to snap a four-game losing streak as they host the Nuggets on Wednesday. Tip-off from the Toyota Center in Houston is slated for 7 p.m. CT.  

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