The Houston Rockets look for a fourth straight win when they visit the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night. Houston has played five of its last six games on the road but has put together a 4-2 record over that span. New Orleans comes into this game off just its second win of the season, a 115-110 road victory over Charlotte.
Houston is currently tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the top spot in the Southwest Division with a 6-3 record. New Orleans is tied with Memphis for fourth place in the division with identical 2-7 marks.
The moneyline for this contest has the Houston Rockets -250 and the New Orleans Pelicans +210. Houston is favored by six points on the road, with the over/under for the game set at 244.
No Stopping Him
James Harden continues to be the standard for scoring in the NBA, leading the league with 37.1 points per game, more than four points more per contest than Portland’s Damian Lillard, who is second in the league at 33.0. Harden is also averaging 8.2 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals but is shooting just 39.5 percent from the field, including 30 percent from three-point range. Still, even with the addition of Russell Westbrook to the team, Houston is Harden’s squad, and everyone defers to him on the offensive end.
Westbrook is still having a solid season himself, even though he is the No. 2 on his new team. He’s not quite at the triple-double averages of the past few seasons, but he’s putting up 21.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. The Rockets are leading the NBA with 120.1 points per game, but they’re also giving up 118.7 points a night.
The Pelicans are a work in progress, including the No. 1 pick in the draft, Zion Williamson, who has yet to suit up for a regular-season game this season. With that work on blending a number of new faces and rookies into a cohesive unit, the team’s defense has fallen a little short, to the point of the Pelicans being the worst defensive team in the NBA, allowing 122.4 points per game. Not exactly an endorsement of their readiness to take on the Rockets.
Brandon Ingram has been the go-to guy for this team, leading the Pelicans with 25.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. New Orleans has a number of guards who can score, with Jrue Holiday (14.1 points), Josh Hart (11.9), Lonzo Ball (11.5), Frank Jackson (10.9), and JJ Redick (10.8) all following Ingram on the team’s scoring list. But it’s the interior that must be better for New Orleans, which is 17th in the league with 46.0 rebounds per game. Williamson will help, but he can’t do it all in the paint.
The Rockets have to be lacing up their shoes a little tighter for this one, knowing they’ll be running a lot. New Orleans averages 17.9 turnovers a game (only Philadelphia is worse with 18) and is coming off a win in which it turned the ball over 26 times. Those kind of turnover numbers are going to turn into a lot of points for the Rockets, who love to get run-outs for easy baskets. Look for Houston to hit triple-digits on the scoreboard in the third quarter as it wins this one going away. I’m taking Houston -6 to get the easy win.