Gordon sparks Rockets to victory

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon has solidified his standing as a front runner for Sixth Man of the Year honours.
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon has solidified his standing as a front runner for Sixth Man of the Year honours.PHOTO: AFP

HOUSTON • After a lengthy stretch of efficient scoring off the bench during the past month, Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon has solidified his standing as a front runner for Sixth Man of the Year honours.

Following his performance on Monday in the National Basketball Association, Gordon has team-mates lobbying for greater accolades.

He scored a season-high 31 points and James Harden recorded his third consecutive triple-double in the Rockets' come-from-behind 101-91 win over the Washington Wizards at the Toyota Centre.

"All-Star for sure, especially with the record we have right now," Harden said of Gordon.

"He sacrifices for the team. Obviously he can start and all that but he sacrifices and comes off the bench. He plays extremely well. He's definitely an All-Star calibre player."

Gordon and Harden outscored the Wizards in the second half 39-38, with Gordon tallying 22 points while Harden added 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 22 second-half minutes.

Harden (six for 24 from the field) overcame a poor shooting night to post 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Houston (27-9) stretched their winning streak to five games.

After starting eight games while guard Patrick Beverley recovered from pre-season knee surgery, Gordon returned to the bench and crafted a role as a dead-eye shooter capable of carrying an offence.

Guard Bradley Beal paced the Wizards with 27 points while his backcourt mate John Wall added 18 points, 12 assists and five boards.

Washington (16-17) had their modest three-game winning streak snapped.

Following a first half in which he showcased his breathtaking versatility, Wall scored just six points on two-for-nine shooting after the break and did not record a rebound.

The Rockets walled off his penetration and the Wizards' offence subsequently collapsed, allowing Houston to shoot their way back into the game.

"At the beginning they were dead, no energy, and I felt like we were going to win the game by double digits," Beal said.

"Just by the way they were playing they had no rhythm and we were taking them out of everything they wanted to do. The second half was just a totally different game."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Gordon sparks Rockets to victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe