Houston Rockets vs. New Orleans Hornets Preview and Pick – 28905

Houston Rockets (46-21) +4, 186 at New Orleans Hornets (45-21), 8 pm Eastern Wednesday
by Zman of Predictem.com

After seeing their 22-game winning streak come to an abrupt end Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets will try to start up another winning run when they visit the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Hornets in another key Western Conference match-up Wednesday night.

Vegas lists New Orleans as a four-point home favorite for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 186. Also, the Hornets are moneylined at right around -185, with Houston getting +170 as road underdogs.

The Rockets lost for the first time in nearly two months when they fell at home to Boston Tuesday night 94-74. Nonetheless, Houston now leads the Southwest Division by a half-game over New Orleans and is tied with the Lakers for the top spot in the Western Conference.

On the other side of this contest, the Hornets rallied to beat Chicago Monday 108-97 for their eighth win in their last 11 games. So New Orleans is in second place in the Southwest Division and third place in the West.

New Orleans beat the Rockets in the first meeting this season between these two teams 87-82 in Houston Jan. 13, a game Tracy McGrady missed because of a sore knee. But Houston has won two games vs. the Hornets since then, 100-80 last month in New Orleans and 106-96 eleven days ago in H-Town.

Last season, New Orleans took three of four games from Houston. So over the last seven meetings between these two teams, New Orleans is 4-3 straight up and 5-2 against the spread. Also, the o/u is 4-3 in those last seven games, which have averaged 190 total points.

Both these teams have been kind to their financial backers this season. The Rockets are 40-26 against the spread, and 20-11 straight up and 19-12 vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, the Hornets are 41-23 ATS this season, 25-10 SU and 22-13 vs the numbers at home.

Statistically speaking, Houston and New Orleans are tied for 5th in the league in point differential at +5.1 per game. The Rockets are shooting 45% from the field, 34% from 3-point range and 72% from the free-throw line, while the Hornets are shooting 46% from the floor, 39% from beyond the arc and 77% from the line.

Also, Houston ranks 2nd in the league in FG defense at 43%, New Orleans 13th at 46%. And while the Rockets lead the league in rebounding at +4.1 boards per game, the Hornets rank 7th at +1.9 per game.

But both of these teams may be a bit thin up front Wednesday night. Houston, of course, is already without center Yao Ming, although the Rockets are 10-1 since the big man went down for the season with a knee injury. And rookie forward Carl Landry (9 pts., 5 rebs. per game this season) has missed Houston’s last six games with a bad knee of his own, and is listed as questionable for Wednesday. On the other bench, New Orleans forward David West (20 pts., 9 boards PG), who’s missed five of the Hornets’ last seven games with two bad ankles, is listed as questionable for Wednesday, but some reports suggest he may play.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks New Orleans 5th at 95.3, the Rockets 7th at 95.1. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.4.

The o/u is 28-38 in Houston games this season, which are averaging 189 total points, while the totals are 31-33 in Hornets games, which are averaging 196 points.

Zman’s Pick: I like the Rockets +4 in what should be a tight fought game.