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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 25th (All times Eastern)

Houston Rockets (22-22) at New Orleans Hornets (14-28), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New Orleans Hornets will play their first game since the official announcement of the name change to the Pelicans Friday night when they host the Houston Rockets.

"When we purchased the basketball team, it was a priority to change the name to reflect our culture, our community and our resolve. The Pelican does that," said owner Tom Benson. "Our region has been hard hit in recent years and the one thing that stands out is the resiliency and determination to comeback, to fight and overcome. The Pelican symbolizes that."

There it is, the Pelicans are coming to the NBA in the 2013-14 season.

Until then, it's still the Hornets and it's a Hornets team that has played decently of late. They have won seven of their last 10, although last time out, the Hornets fell at San Antonio, 106-102.

Even without All-Star Tim Duncan in the lineup and with head coach Gregg Popovich at home sick, the Spurs were able to score 32 in the first, 28 in the second and 28 in the final frame to get the victory.

"We had one quarter where we played a little bit of defense, but I think they just missed shots," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams. "They beat us. That's what they do. They missed 11 free throws and we still couldn't win the game."

Eric Gordon led the way with 17 points, followed by 16 from Ryan Anderson and 15 by Greivis Vasquez. Rookie Anthony Davis played despite a sore ankle, but only managed nine points.

The Rockets have been in free-fall of late. After getting seven games over .500, Houston has dropped eight of its last nine, including a 105-95 home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

After the loss, head coach Kevin McHale and his assistants elected to show the Rockets tapes of games when they were winning. How they won was simple, they flew by everyone on the opposition in an up-tempo style that saw them reach No. 2 in scoring.

During this poor run, the Rockets have cracked the 100-point plateau four times. Over their last 12, the Rockets have trailed by double digits in every single game.

"We had to see how we played when we were playing well and we were moving the ball and moving bodies," said McHale. "We just became very stagnant over the last couple weeks. We can't play like that. When you play in small places you have too many turnovers and we just showed them film of two games we played where the ball was flying and people were running and we've just got to get back to that."

Maybe the Rockets will get a boost from Thursday's All-Star reserves announcement. James Harden, who came in a trade just before the start of the regular season, made the Western Conference side for the first time in his career.

And, his first appearance will be in his new home city as Houston will showcase the stars next month.

"It's overwhelming right now, but it's a great feeling," said Harden, who is fifth in the NBA in scoring at 25.8 ppg. "Just to be my first time in no other city but Houston. It means a lot I'll be hosting. I'll be on the front page of it."

The Rockets have taken two of three this season from the Hornets, although Houston has dropped three in a row and five of its last six in the Big Easy.

01/25 10:33:57 ET

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