Man it feels nice to beat Dallas. And yet now the Rockets will have to forget that and head to New Orleans to take on a Pelicans team that is on a 3-game winning streak and in the middle of a 7-game homestand.
Much like the Bucks game, this is a contest between two disappointing teams. Like Milwaukee, the Pels are looking for a fourth straight win, which would be their longest streak of the season. During that stretch, New Orleans has convincing wins over Minnesota, Detroit, and Milwaukee. They have held all 3 teams to 99 points and have scored 114, 115, and 116 in those three games. So Houston will have to try to not lose 117-99 to end that streak.
What's more, New Orleans has won the 3 games despite losing Eric Gordon in the first game with a fractured finger. He'll be out tonight.
For Houston, the goal will be to pick up their third straight win and start this road trip on a good foot. Houston will head to San Antonio (probably resting their stars against the Warriors so they can beat Houston) on Wednesday and then to Oklahoma City on Friday to take on the surging Thunder.
But it all starts tonight against a Pelicans squad that erased a huge second quarter lead the last time these teams met in New Orleans in the blink of an eye.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Norris Cole
Houston is finally seeing their three point guards working as intended. Terry and Lawson can lead the Headband of Brothers off the bench. Now all we need is one more guy to get a headband and we'll have a fully headbanded bench unit.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Tyreke Evans
Evans is averaging 11 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds per game in the two matchups with Houston. So he'll probably be the primary ballhandler while he's on the court.
James Harden has to keep the ball moving when he's on the court. Watching Josh Smith should show him that the Rockets work best with ball movement and a lack of isolations for him that end in jumpers.
Small Forward: Corey Brewer vs. Alonzo Gee
Gee won't score a lot, but he can do a bit of everything, a la Trevor Ariza or Corey Brewer.
For Houston, this position has to step up whether it be Ariza or Brewer.
Power Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Anthony Davis
I actually expect Josh Smith to get his first start tonight in order to help defend Anthony Davis. We learned in the last matchup that Trevor Ariza cannot defend AD by himself. Josh Smith might be able to defend him a little better so I expect him to see a lot of minutes here.
Davis has been on a tear lately, averaging 26 points per game on 55% shooting from the field in his last 5 games. Fear the Brow, indeed.
Center: Clint Capela vs. Omer Asik
The difference between Asik and Capela is enormous. At least, in terms of what they mean(t) to Houston.
Asik came in as a stabilizing force under the basket. An experienced hand who could defend the paint on defense and set good hard screens on offense. His hands were a mess and once teams realized they could mostly ignore him on the roll his usefulness started to see its end.
Capela came in as a young rookie with no expectations. The idea was to give him a few years to develop and then bring him along slowly. Instead, Houston has given him a chance early and he's seized on it. His hands are fantastic and while his defense isn't anywhere close to Asik's yet, he's not a liability on either end of the floor.
Rockets: Ty Lawson, Jason Terry, Marcus Thornton, Corey Brewer, Montrezl Harrell, Josh Smith
Pelicans: Ryan Anderson, Luke Babbitt, Alexis Ajinca, Jrue Holiday, Toney Douglas
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