National Basketball Association
New Orleans at Houston
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 12, 2014
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
The Houston Rockets badly need a victory and hope struggling New Orleans will be the perfect tonic when they host the Pelicans on Saturday. New Orleans has lost seven straight games and recently shut down All-Star power forward Anthony Davis for the rest of the season due to a back ailment. The Portland Trail Blazers are suddenly only a half-game behind Houston for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference after the Rockets suffered consecutive losses.
The Pelicans also are without guard Eric Gordon (knee) for the remainder of the season. Making matters worse is that swingman Tyreke Evans (bruised knee) and guard Brian Roberts (ankle) both departed Friday’s 116-94 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and their status against Houston won’t be known until Saturday. Houston’s defense was missing in Friday’s 112-110 loss to Minnesota as Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer tied the franchise mark with 51 points after previously never even scoring 30 in an NBA game. Rockets guard James Harden bounced back with 33 points after having just 10 on 1-of-9 shooting in Wednesday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets.
8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, CSN HoustonABOUT THE PELICANS (32-47):
New Orleans’ leading scorers against Oklahoma City were guard Austin Rivers and forward Darius Miller with 18 points apiece. Those two players haven’t been part of the rotation for most of the season but the plethora of injuries will make them key players over the final week of the season. In addition to Davis and Gordon, forward Ryan Anderson, point guard Jrue Holiday and reserve center Jason Smith suffered season-ending injuries this season. “It’s a weird situation,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams told reporters. “I’ve never been a part of anything like this in my career. And yet, it’s a great opportunity for other guys.”ABOUT THE ROCKETS (52-27):
Houston’s defense has been lagging with center Dwight Howard (ankle) and guard Patrick Beverley (knee) sidelined and Brewer’s career-best night greatly disappointed coach Kevin McHale. Transition defense has been a problem in recent weeks and McHale would like to shore up the issue before a probable first-round playoff series against Portland. “It’s been four or five games where we have not competed hard enough,” McHale told reporters afterward. “I don’t know what to do. You try different lineups, you try different stuff but guys have got to go out there and they’ve just got to compete harder.”BUZZER BEATERS
1. Houston is 2-0 against the Pelicans this season and closes the regular-season on Wednesday with a visit to New Orleans.
2. The Pelicans added D-League player James Southerland prior to the game against Oklahoma City and he scored 10 points in 10 minutes in his club debut.
3. The Rockets have allowed at least 105 points in each of their last eight games, giving up an average of 115.9 during the stretch.PREDICTION:
Rockets 127, Pelicans 108
Stats and Records