Game Preview: Pelicans vs. Rockets - April 16, 2014

Pelicans vs. Rockets Game Preview

The inaugural New Orleans Pelicans season concludes Wednesday evening in Smoothie King Center, in a Southwest Division matchup against the Houston Rockets. New Orleans will try to add one more quality home victory to its 2013-14 resume while hosting the Rockets, who are headed to the Western Conference playoffs behind the All-Star duo of Dwight Howard and James Harden.

Particularly during the month of March, the Pelicans enjoyed considerable success on their home floor. Over a three-game stretch from March 22-26, New Orleans bested two-time defending NBA champion Miami, surging Brooklyn and the title-contending Los Angeles Clippers. Earlier in the season, New Orleans posted home victories over playoff-bound clubs including (in chronological order) Charlotte, Portland, Chicago and Atlanta. On Monday, the Pelicans knocked off Oklahoma City, despite only having 10 healthy players.

Wednesday's game will serve as a playoff tune-up for Houston, which is locked into the West’s No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 Portland in the first round.

Houston has been one of the NBA’s top scoring teams throughout 2013-14, ranking second in offensive efficiency among the league’s 30 clubs. The Rockets’ prolific attack was held somewhat in check by the Pelicans during the first two meetings of the season, but Houston still managed to post 107-98 and 103-100 victories. On Saturday, the Rockets rallied from a double-figure deficit to beat the Pelicans 111-104. New Orleans used just eight players.

Pelicans Tyreke Evans
Intriguing matchup: Shooting guard
James Harden vs. Tyreke Evans
There is considerable uncertainty regarding lineups and player availability in Game 82 for both teams, but if Harden and Evans are on the floor, it’s a meeting of two of the league’s potent one-on-one scorers. Harden is a crafty lefty who regularly draws fouls and is accurate from three-point range. Evans is an effective penetrator who’s difficult to keep out of the paint, as he demonstrated again Monday in piling up a career-best 41 points vs. Oklahoma City.
Rockets James Harden