Top Home Games of 2013-14: No. 6 vs. HOU

Wednesday, April 16, 7 p.m.

Other 2013-14 games between these two teams
Saturday, Dec. 28, New Orleans at Houston
Wednesday, Jan. 15, Houston at New Orleans
Saturday, April 12, New Orleans at Houston

Why it’s on the list
After wrapping up every season since 2005-06 on the road, New Orleans received a pleasant surprise when the 2013-14 schedule was released, a rare home contest in Game 82. In each season since the team’s full-time return to New Orleans in 2007-08, the club has concluded its regular slate in Dallas, Houston or San Antonio, but this time a Texas team will pay a visit.

The Rockets have received preseason mention from many NBA analysts as both an intriguing team to watch, as well as one that could make a giant leap in the standings. After years of trying to add a marquee star to the roster, Houston now has two cornerstones in shooting guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard. If the Pelicans’ Southwest Division weren’t already competitive enough, the Harden/Howard tandem could make the Rockets formidable for years to come.

Roughly 350 miles to the west, Houston is the closest NBA city geographically to New Orleans. The division rivals will travel to face each other twice in the final five days of the 2013-14 regular season.

What’s new in Houston
After locking up Howard to a long-term contract, the Rockets moved quickly to surround him with more shooters who can space the floor and capitalize on the double-teaming likely to swarm Howard and Harden. Two moves that reflect that desire included the free-agent signings of forward Omri Casspi and shooting guard Reggie Williams. The latter is a career 37.1 percent shooter from three-point range. The Rockets also upgraded their front-court depth by landing 39-year-old center Marcus Camby, back for a second stint in Houston.