Former Houston Rocket and current Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon looks back on their battle with the Golden State Warriors in 2018 that went to seven games.
At that time, the Rockets were led by a fiery James Harden, and recently acquired Chris Paul the year prior. They were coached by offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni, who is heavily credited for pioneering the modern NBA offense that involved a lot of 3-point shooting and moving the ball with pace. Eric Gordon’s role during this era was being a sixth man that provided scoring off the bench. Gordon averaged 15.7 points on 36% three point shooting in 30.2 minutes a game when he was with the Rockets.
Their peak was in 2018, where they stormed through the regular season with a 65-17 record, and faced the star-studded Golden State Warriors during the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets would bow down in Game 7, and have never replicated the same type of success since.
Gordon believes that if they won that game, that special team would have been able to stay together for much longer.
“I think things would have been changed. I think the team would have been together. Definitely more years,” Gordon said on his appearance on The IkoSystem podcast hosted by Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “I mean, winning a championship—that’s a big time thing. There’s no doubt the guys would have been together.”
The Rockets seemed like the perfect team to take down the Golden State Warriors, who were led by four stars of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Up 3-2, it seemed like the series was theirs for the taking, until Game 6 Klay happened and Chris Paul injured his hamstring. It forced a Game 7, where Houston beat themselves by missing 27 straight threes leading to a second-half Warriors comeback.
4 YEARS AGO TODAY
Houston Rockets missed an NBA record 27 straight threes in GM7!
HOU: 7-44 3PT
Ariza: 0-9 pic.twitter.com/56kX7aOFh5
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 28, 2022
When asked if the loss still sticks around him, Eric Gordon simply replied by saying: “It does.” “You only get so many chances to win a championship. And to have the chance to beat a [Durant-Curry Warriors] team like that, I mean, you just never know. And sometimes when you win, you just don’t know how much that attracts other players around the league because we had a good thing going. “Like I said, year in and year out, you just never know.”
The Houston Rockets tried to run it back the following year, only to be eliminated yet again by the Warriors in six games. Then they traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, which led them to be eliminated once more, this time at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. After Mike D’Antoni declared that he would not return to the team following that exit, the Rockets would blow the team up, trading Westbrook and Harden 2021, followed by Gordon’s trade to the Clippers earlier this year.
Despite all of this, Eric Gordon still appreciates how the Rockets stood up to the juggernauts of their time, perhaps the greatest collection of talents in NBA history, and never backed down. Gordon even supports a potential James Harden reunion to the Rockets, for old times’ sake.