Game On: Pelicans take on Rockets

The New Orleans Pelicans (37-33) takes on the Houston Rockets (47-23), in a game with major playoff implications. The two teams have been heading in very different directions of late. The Houston Rockets have won four of five, moving up to third in the conference, and only 2 ½ games back of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Rockets are also getting back star center Dwight Howard tonight.

The Pelicans have lost three straight, seem to lose a different key rotation player ever day (they don’t even have to play a game to lose a guy), have watched the Oklahoma City Thunder run off a ridiculous streak partially due to the fact that Russell Westbrook isn’t human, (and partially due to the fact that they have played eight of their last nine at home) and now play a streaking team that is getting their star center back.

But the Pelicans have no time to feel sorry for themselves. They have to start winning ball games now. And in the immortal lyrics from a random 30 Rock episode “It’s never too late for now.”

Here are the keys to the game:

  • Turnovers- Over the last five games, the team has turned the ball over an average of 17.4 times a game. If the Pelicans do that tonight, they will lose handily.
  • Defend the numbers- The Pelicans are playing a team that if they could, would only take three pointers, free throws and shots at the rim. The Pelicans can’t let James Harden take over the game at the line (allowing the Rockets to set up their defense) nor can they give up a barrage of 3s or layups. Forcing this team into contested shots inside the arc will be key.
  • Roll-Call- We may have no idea who is playing tonight. Omer Asik is said to have practiced yesterday. But  the Pelicans have lost players in a litany of ways of late. Whoever is available has to contribute. All hands on deck this time of year. Everyone is hurt, everyone is jostling for position. Time to stand your ground and grit out a win. So whether it is Omer “No Ice” Asik eating Howard over some Houston beef, Quincy Pondexter nailing 8 3s, or Norris Cole being the peskiest point guard on the floor since Patrick Beverly is out, the Pelicans need to see players contribute to pull out the win.
  • Useless Cherry-picked Stat of the Day- The Pelicans are 3-0 when facing a team that has a ‘star’ (LeBron James/Kevin Durant) returning from a long injury absence. Maybe it’s a good thing Dwight is coming back.

3 responses to “Game On: Pelicans take on Rockets”

  1. The end of your article stole a bit of my “Thunder” (sorry), but I was thinking the same thing on the star-returning stat. Plus it is a game we are not supposed to win and we are pretty decent with those at home. Still, no Jrue does not bode well on Harden as Cole is OK but no Jrue. I’m looking for 15 three’s to pull out the win between Gordon, QPon, and a sprinkling of Cole and Babbitt. In the past at least, Houston seemed a little disinterested when playing in the SMK so I’n hoping for that too. If Howard is playing, it will be great to see some added Asik motivation there. I think Ajinca might be called for a foul while he is on the bench tonight.

  2. Pelican Poster Ajinca has three fouls already. 

    But yea, big game, Monty seemed more than relieved to be back home. Will be interesting to see if the Rockets still to their minutes restriction for Dwight. Beverly being out is huge for us.

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