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Rockets vs. Pelicans game preview: the “other” I-10 rivals

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New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets look to build on their 4-game winning streak when they head on the road to take on the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans are playing the Milwaukee Bucks as I write this, so if something crazy happens in that game there’s a reason I’m not mentioning it.

We talked about expectations the other day, but I’m not quite sure what the expectations were for the Pels coming into the season. Certainly they brought in Stan Van Gundy, maxed out Brandon Ingram, traded for Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe, and were ready to give more of their offense to Zion Williamson (still the owner of the greatest high school mixtape of all time, with apologies to John Wall). I think a reasonable expectation was that they could challenge for a playoff spot. But at 6-10 (again, before Friday night’s game), the Pels are a bit below that.

Besides the guys mentioned above, the Pelicans play infamous Lonzo Ball, former Longhorn Jaxson Hayes, 3-and-D Josh Hart, Rockets killer JJ Redick, and young stud Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Houston’s 4-game winning streak has come against a really bad team (Detroit) and three teams decimated by COVID and injuries (Dallas, Washington, and Portland). No one was feeling badly for the Rockets when they were down to James Harden, Christian Wood, and a G-League team earlier this year, so turnabout is fair play.

However, the Pelicans will offer the new-look Houston a real test against a team that isn’t limping into the game.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest