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Houston Rockets vs. New Orleans Pelicans game preview

NBA: Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

More fouls are called in favor of Anthony Davis than in favor of James Harden. I just wanted to get that out there before anyone brought up the Alvin Gentry complaints from last time.

I get it. Harden is impossible to defend straight-up. When you have to worry about the refs calling fouls for nit-picky things, you back off and give Harden space. That’s death against a guy who can use that space to shoot over you or drive. And Harden can do both at an elite level.

Speaking of Harden, he’s coming off a pretty awful game. He woke up in overtime to help get the win, but he had a rare stinker. If he had put up those numbers in a playoff game, we would have heard about Game 6 all over again.

The Pelicans are undefeated since the Rockets knocked them off in their building, leading them back into a tie in the loss column for the fourth seed in the West. They are currently in a pack of 30-loss teams with the Thunder and Spurs.

Usually in March and April, the team that needs the game more gets the win, regardless of talent. However, the Warriors and now Rockets have bucked this trend, winning games in hostile environments and deflating their opponents. The Rockets haven’t been sharp for a few weeks, but they have had enough to put away teams that desperately need the wins. Tonight marks Houston’s seventh straight game against a team fighting for the playoffs/positioning. In fact, Houston has played against playoff teams or teams in the playoff race in 14 of their last 15 games.

After tonight, they get a stretch of three lottery teams, all in the friendly confines of Toyota Center.

Chris Paul is still day-to-day with a hamstring tweak. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is out tonight for precautionary reasons after tweaking his knee, but the Rockets seem confident he will be fine. James Harden is listed as day-to-day but I doubt he’ll be missing games anytime soon.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on NBA TV