There was a massive usage-rate gap in the Houston Rockets’ lineup on Monday with James Harden and Russell Westbrook sitting.
Harden sat with a thigh contusion while Westbrook sat for load management on the second night of a back-to-back.
Eric Gordon more than filled the void with a 50-point effort as the shorthanded Rockets nabbed an unlikely 126-117 road win over the Utah Jazz, who entered the night tied for the West’s second-best record.
Small ball wins
The Rockets also played without starting center Clint Capela, who sat with a heel contusion. Injuries forced the Rockets to run win an unconventional small-ball starting lineup with no player taller than 6-foot-6 shooting guard Danuel House Jr.
It worked against a Jazz lineup sporting the best defensive center in the game in 7-1 center Rudy Gobert.
Austin Rivers, Ben McLemore and P.J. Tucker rounded out the Houston starting lineup on a night that saw the Rockets dominate at the free-throw line, where they shot 35-of-49.
Utah attempted fewer free throws than the Rockets made, hitting on 19-of-26 attempts.
Gordon, like Harden often does, did a big chunk of his damage at the line, hitting 16-of-20 attempts. He was hot from the field as well, hitting 14-of-22 field goals and 6-of-11 3-pointers while adding six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
House and Rivers chipped in 21 points each.
Big Utah scoring nights not enough
Donovan Mitchell (36 points) and Bojan Bogdonavich (30 points) each had big scoring nights while Gobert tallied 12 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
But it wasn’t enough to stave off an unexpectedly game undermanned Rockets team in a tough road environment.
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