A little over 2 weeks ago, the Pelicans lost in Houston, 107-98. The game went down to the wire, but par for the course, the opponent executed better down the stretch. Despite an ice-cold perimeter game, Dwight Howard was an unstoppable beast and the Rockets had 32 free throw attempts to our 8.
So what's in store for tonight?
First off, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans will be sidelined and, most likely, Jason Smith will get the first crack at corralling Howard. It will be interesting to see if Monty sticks to same theme of avoiding to double Superman in the paint. If so, expect limited minutes for our starting center and probably Alexis Ajinca and Greg Stiemsma will get plenty of chances too.
Second, the battle of the paint could very well decide the winner. In our first encounter, the Rockets out-rebounded the Pels by 5 and out-scored us 58-40 in the paint. However, their prowess on the glass has recently vanished. For the month of January, the Rockets have a rebounding net margin of +1...in 5 games. That includes losing the battle of the boards against the Wizards and Celtics, both of whom are ranked in the bottom third in total rebounds per game.
Third, Eric Gordon is going to have to bring it. In the Rockets last six games, James Harden is averaging 29.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 threes on some stellar shooting (48.2 FG% and 86.2 FT%). He's been a monster and if the Pelicans have any chance, they can't let both Harden and Howard dismantle them.