Game On: New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets

Published: April 12, 2014

Are you ready for some defense? No? Good, because you won’t see any tonight. The Pelicans defense has been terrible all season, but the Rockets have come along lately and made this Pelicans D look like the 2004 Pistons.

118, 105, 107, 107, 125, 130, 123, 112

Those aren’t the coordinates to some island near Fiji, those are the number of points that the Rockets have given up in thier last eight – six of which were losses. Without Dwight Howard down low, they are having trouble protecting the rim and their perimeter players just seem unwilling to get back in transition. Of Corey Brewer’s 51 points last night against Houston, 27 came in transition. He’s not exactly Lebron James in the open court, but it didn’t matter because nobody got in front of him.

The Pelicans defense, meanwhile, is bad because they are young and… oh yeah, everyone is injured! They will likely be without Tyreke Evans and Brian Roberts tonight, after both left the game last night with injuries. If you are counting, that means the Pelicans will be without top 7 scorers. So, even with them facing a terrible defense, they might struggle to crack 100 points.

At this point, giving you ‘Keys to Victory’ would just insult your intelligence. Instead, let’s look at some things to watch for that have nothing to do with wins or losses.

1. Austin Rivers at the Point

With Tyreke and Roberts likely out, Austin might get 42-48 minutes at point guard. The only other guy who could play there is Darius Miller, so look for a lot of Austin tonight. He played 39 minutes last night, and fared well early as a scorer, but I want to see him get his teammates more involved. When he gets to the hole, I want to see a lob to a center once in a while when the big comes over to help. I want to see more drive and kicks as well.

2. Jeff Withey’s Conditioning

Withey has looked winded at times this year, so tonight would be a good time to push him to his limits. The Rockets play at the 5th highest pace overall, and the third highest pace at home. Give Withey 30+ minutes and see how he fares, so he knows just how much work he has to do this summer.

3. More Minutes for King James

James Southerland was a beast in garbage time last night, going off for 10 points and 3 rebounds in 9 minutes and 31 seconds. The guys’ career per 36 minutes are off the charts! We wanna see more of a guy who looks like a fearless shooter with a smooth stroke. If Corey Brewer can get 51 against this defense, King James could go for 60!

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