BOUNCE-BACK YEAR

The Rockets have 99 problems but a Splash ain't one

Gordon is one of the bright spots this year. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Eric Gordon is having a tremendous season so a far for the Houston Rockets despite their record. Last season with the Rockets, Gordon dealt with countless lower body injuries and poor shooting. Gordon took it upon himself to have a better season, change his perception, and silence trade speculations. It almost seemed that Gordon lost his style of play.

Gordon only played 36 games in the 2019-2020 season. In that season, Gordon shot 31.7% from three, including having the worst true shooting percentage of his career, which was 51%. He even scored 14 points per game, which is the lowest he scored in his Rockets tenure. Gordon's injuries impacted his performance throughout the season, which hurt his shooting during the playoffs. Although Gordon came back for the 2019-2020 playoffs, he still shot 32 percent from three. Gordon shot 40% in the 2018-2019 playoffs with the Rockets, so it was a down year for him.

Trading the 32-year-old Gordon seemed unlikely throughout the offseason. Packaging Gordon with Russell Westbrook and James Harden became interesting though. Gordon's injuries were questionable because of the season he had. Even though trade scenarios circled Harden and Westbrook, none of the rumors directly involved Gordon. The Rockets seemed content that Gordon could have a comeback year. And he was confident that his knee surgery could help his performance this season.

"I needed knee surgery," Gordon said. "It's tough any time you have surgery during the year. It's just tough because I'm trying to get my balance, and everything takes time, and I'm trying to rush back, so we can see … how good we can be and how … good we can be ... down the stretch. Last year was just a tough year for me. I can definitely expect better for sure."

Gordon's usage rating has surpassed his 2017-2018 performance from 23.8%-24.9% this year.

"I've had the ball in my hand more since I [have] been here, period," Gordon said. "I'm able to play make more, come off screens, and get the ball in various ways. And that has allowed me to have a lot more opportunities."

Off those opportunities, Gordon has averaged 18.6 points per game and shooting 36% from three, while his true shooting percentage is at 61%, which is a career high. Gordon is shooting 46 percent from the field this season, which is another career high. Coach Silas has allowed Gordon to take a much more aggressive role for the Rockets this year. Gordon is 4th on the team in field goal attempts and points per game. He is thriving off consistent ball movement and screen rotation for the Rockets. If Gordon is not scoring off catch-and-shoot, he is driving toward the basket. Ever since Gordon's knee surgery, he's become a bouncer again. That has allowed Gordon to attack the rim more for the Rockets. Gordon is 46% from the field when inside the restricted area of the court.

"To have a player like Eric Gordon coming off the bench is… most teams would love that and that is a luxury for us," Coach Silas said. "He can start and come off your bench."

Hopefully, Eric's play continues to blossom for the Rockets, so they can get back on track. The Rockets have lost their last four out of five games recently.

Up next: The Rockets play the Heat on Thursday night.

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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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