National Basketball Association
Preview
New Orleans at Houston
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, March 24, 2017
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

The New Orleans Pelicans won three consecutive games and five of their past six as they enter Friday's game against the host Houston Rockets. The Pelicans are in must-win mode if they want to chase down the final playoff spot in the Western Conference as they trail the eighth-place Denver Nuggets by four games with 11 remaining.

New Orleans cruised to a 128-112 victory over the Rockets on March 17 and is now entering a tough three-game road trip that includes visits to Denver and Utah. All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins is coming off his best game since the Pelicans acquired him from the Sacramento Kings as he recorded 41 points and 17 rebounds in Tuesday's 95-82 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Rockets won five of their past six games with the lone blemish coming against New Orleans and it is becoming clear Houston is destined to finish as the No. 3 seed in the West. All-Star point guard James Harden scored 41 points in the recent loss to the Pelicans and is averaging 40 points, 10.7 assists and 10.3 rebounds in the past three games.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, ROOT (Houston)

ABOUT THE PELICANS (30-41): Cousins is learning how to fit into the New Orleans offense and it looks like he is catching on based on Tuesday's stellar showing. "It feels good to finally tear down that wall, break out of the shell," Cousins said afterward. "They've been telling me since I've been here to just go out and be aggressive and just be myself, and I think I was able to do that." All-Star power forward Anthony Davis had 19 points and 13 rebounds against Memphis and has six double-doubles in the past eight games.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (49-22): Harden has posted 19 triple-doubles and he also has 25 games of at least 30 points and 10 assists, the most since Hall of Famer Nate Archibald recorded 46 such games during the 1972-73 campaign. Harden is averaging 29.4 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds and coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't think there is any debate that Harden is the league's MVP. "I don't know how many examples you need there," D'Antoni told reporters. "He gives you an example every night. If something's better out there, I've never seen it and I've been around. I'm old and I've been around and never seen anything better."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Rockets won seven of the past nine meetings, including a 122-100 victory on Dec. 16, when they made an NBA record 24 3-pointers (since broken by Cleveland) and attempted a record 61 3-pointers.

2. New Orleans PG Jrue Holiday had 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting against Memphis after averaging 20 points over the previous two games.

3. Houston backup SG Eric Gordon made 4-of-7 3-pointers in Monday's 125-124 win over Denver after being just 14-of-49 over the previous seven contests.

PREDICTION: Rockets 130, Pelicans 112
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
New Orleans 30-41 W3 19-18 11-23 1-3 29-38 5-9 16-26
Houston 49-22 W2 26-9 23-13 1-0 48-22 9-6 30-12
Last Meeting
New Orleans Houston
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
3/17/17 HOU 112 NO 128 128 53 53.3 112 46 41.6
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
New Orleans S. Hill 30 61.5 8
Houston J. Harden 41 57.1 13
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
New Orleans A. Davis 15 1 14
Houston J. Harden 14 2 12
Assists Player  
New Orleans S. Hill 7
Houston J. Harden 11
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
New Orleans A. Davis 1937 49.6 496
Houston J. Harden 2190 44.7 703
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
New Orleans A. Davis 820 163 657
Houston J. Harden 606 84 522
Assists Player  
New Orleans J. Holiday 404
Houston J. Harden 851
Quickchart Matchup
New Orleans New Orleans Off vs  Houston Houston Defense
New Orleans Off vs Houston - Points For 103.5 Points For
New Orleans Off vs Houston - Points Against 108.6 Points Against
New Orleans - FG% 44.7 FG%
Houston - FG% 46.3 FG%
New Orleans - Reb 44.2 Reb
Houston - Reb 43.7 Reb
Houston Houston Off vs  New Orleans New Orleans Defense
Houston Off vs New Orleans - Points For 115.5 Points For
Houston Off vs New Orleans - Points Against 105.7 Points Against
Houston - FG% 46.3 FG%
New Orleans - FG% 44.6 FG%
Houston - Reb 44.2 Reb
New Orleans - Reb 48.1 Reb