Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans

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After winning their 8th game in a row at the expense of the Kings, the Rockets, sitting at 19-7, get ready to face the New Orleans Pelicans. The Rockets are led in both scoring and assists by James Harden, at 27.6 points and 11.4 assists, and in rebounding by Clint Capela, who pulls in 8 rebounds a game. The Rockets now rank 3rd in offensive rating, 17th in defensive rating, and 6th in net rating.

The Pelicans come into Houston a day after moving to 9-18 in a win over the Pacers. The Pelicans are led in scoring and rebounding by Anthony Davis, at 30.7 points and 11.4 rebounds, and in assists by Tim Frazier, at 6.5 assists. The Pelicans rank 25th in offensive rating, 14th in defensive rating, and 22nd in net rating.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets are likely to continue to start with James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes.

The Pelicans continue their tradition of being hit hard by injuries, with Tim Frazier, Dante Cunningham, and Quincy Pondexter likely to miss Friday's game. The Pelicans opened their last game with Jrue Holiday at point guard, rookie Buddy Hield at shooting guard, Solomon Hill at small forward, Anthony Davis at power forward, and Alexia Ajinca at center, with Moore, Galloway, and Terrence Jones playing over 20 minutes off the bench.

Three Things to Watch

  • Defense coming through – The Rockets have moved out of the bottom ten defenses recently, due to their great defensive play in December. Over the 8 games the Rockets have played in December they rank 3rd in the NBA in defensive rating. Watch to see if the Rockets continue to put pressure on one of the worst offenses in the NBA.

  • Revenge game x 2 – Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are both getting ready to face their old team for the first time. Watch to see if either, or both, step up their game to try and burn their old team.

  • Sam Dekker keeps getting better  – After a promising start to the season, Sam Dekker has only gotten better. The near-rookie (only 6 minutes played last season before his injury) is coming off of a career-high, 19 point game, and is shooting 39% from 3 and over 60% true shooting. Watch to see if Sam is able to keep playing at a high level over the remainder of the season.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets are the hottest team in basketball now, with the longest active win streak in the NBA, and I expect that streak to grow against the struggling Pelicans, as Eric Gordon continues his hot streak and Ryan Anderson finds his way out of his slump.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Friday, December 16th. The game will be televised on ROOT sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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