The New Orleans Pelicans will tip off their third game of the preseason against the Houston Rockets early Sunday morning. The matchup will be televised live (finally!) on NBAtv at 6:30 am central time. The Pelicans enter the contest with a win and loss on the schedule while the Rockets boast a perfect 2-0 record.
The game is sure to be a special one for the Pelicans not only because it marks the team’s first trip to China but also features Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon facing their former squad for the first time since changing jerseys during the latest free agency period. In addition, Terrence Jones should possess extra motivation in performing well against the Rockets because he left town on such a sour note.
For what it’s worth, fans from both sides have seemingly expressed little sorrow in the departures of their former players. This has proven especially true in Anderson’s case because he has taken shots at the Pelicans in the media by stating that he has enjoyed more open shot attempts with the Rockets in preseason than he did in his entire four years in New Orleans.
Although most fans are hoping for Anthony Davis to matchup against Ryan Anderson — and torch the latter with his superior athleticism — I fully expect the Rockets to guard the Pelicans superstar with either Clint Capela or Trevor Ariza the majority of the time. However, Davis should find himself on Anderson when either Alexis Ajinca or Omer Asik are in the game... Good luck with that, Ryno.
Call me a sadist but I’m hoping Alvin Gentry decides to throw Buddy Hield into the fire by inserting him into the starting lineup and having him square off against James Harden. I’m 99.9% sure Harden would overwhelm Buddy, but I have confidence the rookie would learn a lot from the experience. Hield is quickly proving to be one of the team’s most dedicated workers so a crash course against the premier shooting guard in the league could wind up paying dividends down the road. If things go sour quickly, just go ahead and make the switch to E’Twaun Moore.
After both organizations finished in the bottom third in defense in 2015-16, the Pelicans and Rockets have made a point of focusing on that side of the floor in preseason. New Orleans believes Dell Demps slew of offseason moves centered around making drastic improvements to the defense will soon become apparent while the Rockets say they are committed to making defense a constant. They feel pairing up assistant head coach, Jeff Bzdelik, with Mike D’Antoni will ensure the defense remains one of the priorities.
Through two games, though, the team’s offenses have stolen the spotlight. The Rockets lead the NBA at a clip of 130.5 points a game while the Pelicans sit 9th, averaging 106.0 points a game. Both teams have made close to half their shot attempts as well as converted over 40% of their three-point attempts. What do you guys think will be the final score?