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Houston Rockets vs. New Orleans Pelicans game preview

The Rockets take on the Pelicans at Toyota Center

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

“Not yet.”

I’ve sent that text several times in the past couple of days. I’m usually responding to some form of the question, “Are the Houston Rockets...good?”

I’m a pessimist by nature. I believe the worst-case scenario is certain to happen, and as a Houston sports fan, I’ve been right far more often than I’ve been wrong. The Astros have tried their best, but even their unmitigated success has failed to soften my defeatism. It’s the hope that kills you, after all.

And yet, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore what’s happening in Houston.

Look, no one thinks the Rockets are going to win the NBA title anytime soon. But they’re no longer the pushovers that they’ve been in recent years. The defense has been much-improved, and the offense has a bit more structure. Alperen Sengun is going to get serious consideration for an All-Star spot. Jalen Green is more consistently showing why he was the number 2 pick in the draft. Jabari Smith Jr. looks more confident and the results speak for themselves. Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks have been phenomenal signings. Ime Udoka has already changed the culture, and it’s working.

There are still caveats. There always are. Houston has spent this 4-game winning streak exclusively at home. The Kings were missing De’Aaron Fox for both games. Anthony Davis sat out for the Lakers. The Pelicans will be without CJ McCollum and possibly Zion Williamson tonight. I understand the comeback: Houston has missed Tari Eason for most of the early season and Amen Thompson is now hurt, too. Everyone deals with injuries. But the Rockets have won out on the injury luck during the streak. However, you can only play who’s in front of you. We could go in circles here.

I don’t think I’ll be fully bought in until the Rockets take their show on the road and beat some good teams. Houston’s next six road games?

  • Clippers
  • Lakers
  • Warriors (back-to-back)
  • Mavericks
  • Nuggets
  • Lakers

Finish this homestand strong and win a couple of those, and then we can talk. Until then?

“Not yet.”


7pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network



Alperen Sengun-QUESTIONABLE (ankle)

Amen Thompson-OUT (ankle)


CJ McCollum-OUT (lung)

Jose Alvarado-OUT (ankle)

Zion Williamson-GTD (personal)

Herbert Jones-GTD (leg)

Looking ahead because we can

Sunday at home against the Denver Nuggets