The Houston Rockets hit the road on Sunday to face the New Orleans Pelicans. Houston has won the previous two matchups between the teams this season, including a 122-116 win in New Orleans in early November.
Coming in off a win over the Brooklyn Nets without Clint Capela, Houston has to like its chances against the Pelicans. At 22-10, the Rockets have proven that Russell Westbrook and James Harden can work together, while their role players have been connecting on their threes.
Most notably, Ben McLemore, who has been a bust for his whole career, is hitting 35.3 percent from beyond the arc.
New Orleans had a long losing skid that lasted several weeks, but it has certainly bounced back. The Pelicans blew out a short-handed Pacers team Saturday night to finally get into double digits in the win column.
Brandon Ingram has stepped into a starring role for the first time in his career and is continuing to thrive. Nobody else has been able to consistently score for this team, though, which is one of their many issues.
Lonzo Ball coming off the bench is not going to be good for any parties involved, so we’ll see how they work through it all.
The spread for Sunday night’s game favors Houston by 4.5 points, while the over/under is set at 230.
Sunday is the night that the Rockets will finally get Eric Gordon back in the lineup. He has missed as many games as Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, sitting out the team’s last 21 games. McLemore and Austin Rivers have stepped up in his absence, but now that he is back, things will look a little more normal.
Mike D’Antoni has already stated that Danuel House Jr. will remain as a starter with Gordon bringing points off the bench. Having just celebrated his birthday on Christmas, he is ready to go and looking to contribute.
We should also expect Capela to sit one more game to ensure he is ready for next week’s games.
As always, this will be decided based on how New Orleans opts to cover Harden. If they go with single coverage, the Pelicans have to hope he doesn’t get hot. And if they bring double teams, they will need the other Rockets to miss open looks.
Leading The Way
The big surprise for the Pelicans this year has been Ingram. Still just 22, he has averaged 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists in his first season in New Orleans. He is shooting 48 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three and 85 percent from the line, proving he can be consistent as a No. 1 option.
Without Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have struggled in many areas this year, but they keep scoring. Jrue Holiday is averaging 20 points, with JJ Redick showing he’s still got it at 35 with his 16 points per game. Now that he is finally getting consistent playing time, Derrick Favors is showing that he can get it done well.
It has been a struggle for Ball to make shots, but he’s averaging five boards and five assists with an inconsistent role. Like Ingram, he is just 22 and has time to come into his own.
Rockets Get The Win
It will be a loss for New Orleans Sunday as Houston improves to 23-10.
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