Eric Gordon Tari Eason Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder

HOUSTON (AP) — Eric Gordon had a season-high 25 points and rookie Tari Eason added a career-high 20 to lead the Houston Rockets to a 112-106 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

The Rockets (13-38), who have the worst record in the Western Conference, have won three of their last five games after losing 18 of the previous 19.

Eason, the 17th overall pick in the 2022 draft, also had 13 rebounds off the bench, setting a career-high on a night that Jalen Green was out with an injury.

Coach Stephen Silas credited Gordon with keeping this young team focused when the game was at the end of the stretch.

“Eric was so stable tonight and when we went down at five or six he was the one who calmed the boys down and that’s important,” Silas said. “That veteran presence … was huge tonight.”

Gordon, who is in his 15th NBA season, prides himself on helping out his inexperienced teammates.

“My mentality is all about winning,” he said. “And for me it’s just about giving these young people confidence.”

Houston was up five after consecutive baskets from Josh Christopher before the Thunder got a free throw from Darius Bazley and a jump shot from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to come within 100-98 with about four minutes remaining.

But the Rockets made the next five points, with a 3 from Kenyon Martin Jr. to increase the lead to seven about a minute later. Gordon then missed two free throws, and Gilgeous-Alexander made two for Oklahoma City, cutting the lead to 105-100.

But Daishen Nix made a layup before Martin had a two-handed dunk seconds later to extend Houston’s lead to 109-100 with less than a minute to go.

Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points to lead the Thunder and Josh Giddey had 20 with eight rebounds and eight assists.

“The best thing Houston did tonight was the way they were ready to play from the jump,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.

Silas was impressed with his team’s defense against Gilgeous-Alexander, who started the game fifth in the NBA with an average of 30.9 points.

“It was a team effort,” said Silas.

Tre Mann opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to extend Oklahoma City’s lead to five points. But Houston then got back-to-back 3s from Garrison Mathews and Eason to take the lead 90-89.

Eason got a steal a few minutes later and drove to a layup but missed. It was the first of Eason’s four straight misses — and four rebounds — on that possession, as he kept snapping rebounds and missing shots on the edge until finally making a fifth shot, on which he was fouled. He made the free throw to give Houston a 93-89 lead.

“That just shows the struggle we had at that moment in the game,” Silas said.

Eason said the moment was both fun and exhausting.

“It’s a bit of both,” he said. “Every time I go onto the pitch I want to bring a lot of energy and a lot of rush and that’s what I do.”

Houston led by eight after baskets from Gordon and Martin early in the third quarter before the Thunder capitalized on a 9-0 seven-point run from Jaylin Williams to take a 72-71 lead.

Their lead was short-lived as the Rockets made the next four points to rejoin the lead 75-72 midway through the quarter.

Oklahoma City then capitalized on a 7-0 run with a 3 from Isaiah Joe to take a 79-75 lead with about four minutes left in the third.

The game later tied in the third before Gilgeous-Alexander took all of the Thunder’s points in a 7-1 sprint that was topped by a three-pointer play to put them 86-80.

The Rockets scored the last four points of the quarter to cut the lead to two, entering fourth place.


Donner: Luguentz Dort sat out for a third straight game with a strained right hamstring. … man had 18 points off the bench. … Oklahoma City made 12 of 43 3-pointers.

Rockets: Green missed a second straight game with a bruised right calf. Coach Stephen Silas said he was getting better and should return this weekend. … Kevin Porter Jr. was out for the 10th straight year with an injured left foot. … Martin had 18 points and seven rebounds. … Sengun had 10 points and 12 rebounds.


The Rockets overtook Oklahoma City by 65:52 on Wednesday. They’ve won the rebound fight in each of their three most recent victories, with Sengun and Eason leading the way.

“If these guys recover as they are, they will always give us a chance,” Gordon said.


Donner: Face the Rockets again on Saturday night.

Rockets: host Toronto on Friday night.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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