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Rockets’ Eric Gordon scores career-high 50 points without James Harden, Russell Westbrook

Rockets, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Russell Westbrook

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon feasted against the Utah Jazz on a night when James Harden and Russell Westbrook sat out, scoring a career-high 50 points in a 126-117 win that now has them in a virtual tie with the Dallas Mavericks.

He became the first Rockets player besides Harden to score 50 points in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon put up 51 in Jan. 1996, according to STATS. The Beard has done so 23 times since.

Gordon made 14 of his 22 shots from the field, 6-of-11 from deep, and did his best Harden impersonation, going to the line a whopping 20 times and connecting at an 80% clip.

The sharpshooter hardly gets to take control of the entire offense, but he sure made use of this unlikely opportunity with no Harden or Westbrook to curtail him.

“I feel like I’m getting back to being myself,” said Gordon, who had knee surgery in November, according to The Associated Press. “I told everybody when you have surgery during the season, it’s always going to be a process.”

Rockets center Clint Capela also sat out the game, making it imperative for head coach Mike D’Antoni to drive the offense through Gordon, his most dynamic scorer available.

“You just marvel in it,” said teammate Austin Rivers. “He’s like a bowling ball when he drives to the basket. Dudes just bounce off of him. He’s so low to the ground and he’s so strong.”

At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Gordon is strong and can blow past defenders while being shifty enough to elude big men. He had a previous career-high mark of 41 points, which he scored in 2009.

Gordon missed 22 games after undergoing surgery on his right knee on Nov. 13. He’s now averaging 20 points through 13 games since his return.