Calling every game a trap game makes the term lose its meaning. I know people called the Mavs game a trap game (nope), the Nets game was supposed to be a trap game (it was), and then the Kings game was also a trap game until the Kings sat their two best scorers.
The point is, when you’re on an 8-game winning streak and playing as well as Houston currently is, every game fits into two categories: tough games and games you should win. And every game you should win is a “trap game” because if you lose you fell into the trap. Not only is this unfair to a couple dozen NBA teams, but it sets up Houston for failure when the streak ends. And if every game is a trap game, is any game actually a trap game? The answer is no.
Sure, there’s a part of you that looks at the schedule and says, “If we keep playing well we could sweep December and maybe January!” That’s preposterous but you’re confident. And all of your confidence in this team stems from one very important fact.
They beat a fully healthy Golden State Warriors squad on their court. In double overtime.
Besides being the best win of the season for anyone, it was the most definitive statement the Rockets could make to the league and themselves: We can beat anyone. We expect to beat anyone. It’s no coincidence that the win in Oakland is what sprung this 8-game winning streak.
After the hurt this team put fans through last season, it’s incredible to think that the Rockets believe that they can beat everyone. However, that’s clearly the mantra Houston has been playing with since the calendar turned to December. It’s either going to take a great game to beat them, or the Rockets just have to have one of those nights where they can’t hit a 3. Or it might take a combination of both.
So tonight is not a trap game. It’s a game against a New Orleans Pelicans squad that got a boost from the return of Jrue Holiday but has gone 2-8 in their last 10 games after rattling off a 4-game winning streak. In their last game, the Pels played a great first half and were up 7 at the break against the Warriors, but poor defense in the third a 15-point fourth quarter led to a loss. (Note: this was written before New Orleans’ game last night, in which they beat the Pacers 102-95. AD dropped 35 and Buddy Hield had a career-high 21 points.)
Tonight, they look to end Houston’s 8-game winning streak. We all know Anthony Davis is incredible and Houston doesn’t have anyone that can even imagine slowing him down. He’s going to get 40. Houston just has to outscore him.
For the Pels, Tim Frazier will be out, but Holiday and Tyreke Evans should be ready to go for this one.
This should also be a fun game because of all the cross-ties involved. Now that Sacramento doesn’t have as many former Rockets, New Orleans and Brooklyn have picked up the slack. Obviously Houston added Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, while New Orleans has Omer Asik and Terrence Jones. Trevor Ariza was traded to the Pelicans (then Hornets) in 2010 by the Rockets in a four-team deal that netted Courtney Lee for the Rockets.
Also, E’Twaun Moore was a Rocket for 3 days in the summer of 2012 and Reggie Williams was the last player cut by the Rockets before the season in 2013.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT.