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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 28th (All times Eastern)
New Orleans Pelicans (13-14) at Houston Rockets (20-11), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets have won two straight and will try to continue their momentum Saturday night when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the Toyota Center.
The Rockets have knocked off a pair of Southwest Division rivals, the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, for this mini winning streak. Both games were on national television and Houston is just 3 1/2 games behind the Spurs in the division.
Houston beat the Spurs by 14 on Christmas night, then one night later, took out the Grizzlies, 100-92, at home.
James Harden scored 27 points despite making just two field goals and the Rockets used a big fourth-quarter run to beat Memphis.
The Rockets went on a 19-4 surge with Dwight Howard on the bench, turning a 76-66 deficit into an 85-80 lead with 5 1/2 minutes remaining. Jeremy Lin scored 10 of his 18 points during the surge, the last two on an over-the- shoulder layup after dribbling the length of the court.
Harden was 22-of-25 on free throws. He scored the first Houston points of the game on a 3-pointer then didn't hit another field goal until there were under two minutes left in the game.
"I couldn't make a shot. I just tried to get to the rim," Harden said. "We were kind of stagnant throughout the middle of the game, especially the third quarter. So, I just wanted to get in attack mode."
Terrence Jones had 20 points and Chandler Parsons scored 15 with 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who won back-to-back games for the first time since early December.
Howard finished with two points in just over 18 minutes of foul-plagued action. He is questionable Saturday with a stiff back and guard Aaron Brooks is probable with a sprained ankle.
New Orleans is in the midst of playing 10 of 12 games outside the Big Easy and has won two in a row since a four-game slide. After disposing of the Sacramento Kings on Monday, the Pelicans handed the Denver Nuggets a 105-89 defeat Friday night.
Tyreke Evans finished with 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis each scored 17 points in the win. Ryan Anderson added 16 points and 10 boards for the Pelicans, who shot 47.2 percent for the game and scored 22 points off 17 Denver turnovers.
"We wanted this win tonight," Anderson said. "We just played hard and kept going after it."
Evans is averaging 21.6 points per game in his last three.
The Pelicans are 5-9 as the guest and will stop home briefly for a matchup with Portland on Monday. In injury news, guard Eric Gordon (hip) and center Jason Smith (knee) missed Friday's game and are day-to-day. Smith hasn't played since Dec. 18 in a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Houston took three of four from the Pelicans last season and has won four straight and eight of 11 at home in this series.
12/28 10:27:02 ET