Despite the embarrassing loss, the Rockets still managed to produce a winning record, going 3-1 out West, which includes a 122-117 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It was a good trip, but the way it ended left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I think defensively, we did not get any breaks, and we did not have our energy up in order to come out and play. Things like this happen every season, and we have to learn from it and keep moving forward.” - Mike D’Antoni
With James Harden doubled nearly every possession, the Rockets fell short in San Francisco (116-104) due to their inability to hit open shots. Houston ended the game shooting 31.4% from deep, but shot 7-of-29 (24.1%) on wide-open attempts. The league’s defensive approach to trap and double-team Harden may decrease with the return of sharpshooting swingman, Eric Gordon.
After missing the last 21 games following a knee procedure in November, Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni confirmed that Gordon will make his return to the lineup on Sunday against his old team, the New Orleans Pelicans. The former Sixth Man of the Year winner averaged a career-low 10.9 points on a displeasing 30.9% shooting from the field, 28.4% from deep.
“I’ve been playing with this injury for a while, and it was irritating and nagging to play through. It’s going to take some time for me to get back to where I wanna be, but at least it is a step in the right direction for me to get back to playing.” - Gordon.
The Rockets considerably missed Gordon’s ability to open up the offense and defend at a high level, despite posting a 14-7 record in his absence. Although it is going to be a work in progress getting him back into the rhythm, Russell Westbrook says Gordon’s return is an enormous addition to the team.
“It’s going to be huge. He [Gordon] is a huge part of our team by the way we play and obviously by the way he plays. It’s going to be a process of work getting him back into a rhythm, and making sure he feels comfortable.” - Westbrook.
Before heading to New Orleans on Sunday, the Rockets will open the front-end of their back-to-back schedule on Saturday in a home match against the 16-14 Brooklyn Nets. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 P.M. CT.