First off, thanks to BD and Max for taking the Wizards and Celtics previews, respectively. Sometimes school and a broken laptop screen get in the way of writing, and it's great that we have so many fantastic writers that can step in at a moment's notice (seriously, they both offered to write the Celtics preview when I asked at 5pm the night before). I appreciate it guys.
The Pelicans are 15-22 on the season, but they have a respectable 9-8 record at home in New Orleans. They have beaten some good teams at home and took the Spurs until late in the fourth quarter on Monday before ultimately succumbing to the West champs. Basically, the Pelicans are very good at home and tough to beat.
Last year in this building, the Rockets rode a 5-game winning streak into town, had a lead in the fourth quarter, and left New Orleans with a stunning loss that was the first of a 7-game slide that had Rockets fans shaking their heads and fists.
Something else to be aware of: the Rockets play again tomorrow night against the Thunder. I'm sure McHale would like to keep minutes down, but it's unlikely against this frisky Pelicans squad.
Speaking of frisky, Pierre the Pelican is terrifying.
Tip off is at 7:00pm CST.
Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Brian Roberts
Jrue Holiday is out with a stress fracture in his right tibia, so Roberts will be playing minutes here. He's a good shooter and a serviceable backup point guard.
Jeremy Lin made the TD Garden his playground, going 16/9 with only one turnover in 35 minutes. That's going to be enough to get the job done almost every night for Houston.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Eric Gordon
Gordon didn't play the first time these teams met.
In his last five games, Gordon is averaging 19 points per game on 49% shooting.
This could be a fun matchup. Lots of scoring, no defense.
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Al-Farouq Aminu
I'll give Aminu credit. Everyone knows he isn't a great shooter, but instead of being one of those guys, Aminu has changed his game. He's taking half as many threes this season, and taking more shots than his career average. So basically, he's taking more shots in and around the paint. That's a brilliant move by a young player.
Still, Chandler Parsons is the motor that makes the Rockets go.
Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Anthony Davis
Last time they played, Davis finished with 18/16 and made some big plays down the stretch.
Jones played well too, with 17/8.
This is pretty one-sided overall. Though I think Jones will attempt to show up his fellow Kentucky alum.
Center: Dwight Howard vs. Jason Smith
Based off of personal experience, Jason Smith has never missed a jump shot against the Rockets.
I think Dwight Howard should have a field day. And his recent performances against the Wizards and Celtics would show that he will.
The Rockets have become much better at getting the ball into the post as the season has progressed. It's almost like I was saying that all season, but it's easier to panic than stay calm.
The result: Howard has taken 17 shots in his last two games and has scored 55 points combined in those two contests on 62% shooting.
Yeah, I'll take that.
Rockets: Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, Greg Smith (maybe)
Pelicans: Tyreke Evans, Darius Miller, Jeff Withey, Alexis Ajinca, Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow
Prediction: Pelicans play great basketball, win 101-95.
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