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Houston Rockets vs. New Orleans Pelicans game preview

The Rockets look to keep their momentum going when they take on the Pelicans in New Orleans.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If the Rockets beat the Spurs on Christmas and then lose to the Pelicans the next day, did anything actually happen?

Technically yes, but the feeling here is that Houston just played their best defensive game of the season. They held the best offensive team in the league to 84 points. They hustled on defense, switched like fiends, and made life miserable for a Spurs team that was barely feeling resistance as they ran through team after team.

On nights where Houston's offense doesn't come to play, or when the opposing defense is mighty, Houston has to have THAT EXACT defense. What Houston proved is that they can play with anyone if they defend as hard as possible. Now they have to prove that they can do that when the game isn't on national television.

The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off a tough overtime loss to the Miami Heat yesterday. Anthony Davis had 29/15 but missed a shot at the end of regulation that could won the game, Evan Gordon had 16 points but on 5-15 shooting, and Ryan Anderson exploded late for 18 points and gave New Orleans a shot. The team as a whole shot 40% and were outrebounded by 12.

Houston didn't play much better, but if they can defend similarly to the way they shut down the Spurs, there's no excuse for them not to at least be in this game. Both teams are on a back-to-back. Both fly into New Orleans yesterday (though the Pelicans probably got in before Houston's game even began).

Still, we've seen the proof. Houston can be really good. Now they just have to not screw it up.

Tip-off is at 6pm CST on NBA TV and Root Sports.

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The Bird Writes