Indiana Hoosiers

Q&A with Eric Gordon — on what has clicked in Houston

Indy native Eric Gordon scored 21 points in a 118-95 Houston Rockets (11-3) win over the Pacers Sunday evening.

This was EJ’s annual visit back home with his NBA team. Having played for only Western Conference teams — Los Angeles (Clippers), New Orleans, and now Houston — he faces the Pacers in Indianapolis just once per season.

Now 28, he is healthy and still in his prime. Numerous injuries plagued him early in his career. He looks like he added muscle to his shoulder, chest, etc. – even his calves look bigger – but he’s actually trimmed down 10 pounds and stopped drinking alcohol during the season.

With Chris Paul (knee) sidelined since opening night, Gordon, last year’s NBA Sixth Man of the Year, was inserted back into the starting lineup and he has thrived. As he explains, he feels like he’s gotten back on track in Houston.

Entering Sunday’s game, Gordon is averaging a career-high 23.1 points and is shooting 36.6 percent from outside. His assists are up to nearly three per game.

Before the game, I caught up with the North Central High School product and 2007 Indiana Mr. Basketball. But before we get to that, here’s Pacers guard Victor Oladipo on his fellow Hoosier.

“He came down to IU and he worked out with us during the lockout,” Oladipo said. “He’s just a great dude, a great man, a great person to be around. There’s some people that have that personality that you just want to be around him all the time – and Eric’s one of those guys.

“He had all the talent in the world, ever since he was in high school. He was a certified hooper. I remember it was tough for him [in the league] at first because he had a lot of injuries and stuff like that early in his career. But now, to see him blossom and see him doing well where he’s at and just embracing the situation that he’s in – you can’t be nothing but proud of him. I guess you could say he’s a long-distance friend. Just be proud of him and see how he’s growing, and be a long-distance fan too because he’s a Hoosier. You got to always support your Hoosiers.”

It’s Year 10 for No. 10 Eric Gordon.

Read my Q&A with Gordon below.

You’re off to a strong start, what’s working for you?

It’s being more aggressive. I think last year I was just being more of a 3-point shooter and accepting of a different role. It was just a good year for me to get on track last year, and this year I’m putting it all together.

Now you’ve been unleashed and you’re playing as forceful as you did in high school. Does it feel that way?

Yeah I just feel a lot better. That’s what helps. It helps a ton.

You look jacked. Did you have a transformation last offseason?

I’m a lot stronger. Nothing is real different since I’ve been with the Rockets. They have the best training staff around and they train us really hard in the summer.

I know it’s older news, but what did it mean for you to be recognized with a league award as you were as Sixth Man of the Year?

It meant a lot. It means I’ve got back on track and [been able] to show my presence that I can still play out there. That was just a good moment for me to get back on track.

About how many friends and family are you expecting at tonight’s game?

Hmmm, about 50 to 80 people.

What’s it like for you to have your brothers all over – Evan in China and Eron in New Jersey? I talked to your mom and she was talking about traveling to visit each of you.

Yeah, it’s been good for her to do that. It’s good because everyone is still playing.

What do you make of the changes with IU basketball since last season?

You kind of figured that they would have a tough year this year. We’ll just see what happens, it can’t get no worse than the last game that they played (a 90-69 home loss to Indiana). I definitely want the best for them and I want to see them succeed.

Are you watching anytime you’re free and they’re on TV?

Oh yeah. I try to watch every game. I watch almost every game they play.

Victor Oladipo has surprised many people with what he’s done for the Pacers. What have you seen?

He’s very athletic, his jump shot seems to be improved. It’s almost like every play he’s trying to be very aggressive and score the ball.

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