Houston Rockets +2 (19-10) at New Orleans Hornets -2 (16-9) O/U 184.5 8 PM ET Friday December 26, 2008
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the Houston Rockets travel to the Big Easy to play the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets played yesterday and gave the Orland Magic a X-mas present by not showing up only scoring 68 points. The Rockets are 7-3 in their last 10 games and they currently are tied for 1st place with the Spurs in the Southwest Division, while the Hornets are also 7-3 in their last 10 games and sit 1 game back of the Spurs and Rockets. Both of these teams are looking for a shot to unseat the Lakers as Western Conference champions.
This season the Hornets are 9-4 at home and the Rockets are 10-7 on the road.
Hoops bookies have the Hornets as 2 point favorites with a total around 184.5. The Hornets are posted at -135 as home favorites and the Rockets are posted at +115 as away dogs.
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The Hornets come into this game after an embarrassing loss last night to the Orlando Magic 88-68. The high scorer in that game for the Hornets was David West going for a whopping 13 points on 5/10 shooting. For the game the Hornets could not hit the water if they fell out of a boat shooting 28/84 for a pathetic FG% of 33.3%. On defense the Hornets allowed the Magic to shoot 30/74 for a FG% of 40.5%.
The Rockets come into this game losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-90 on Tuesday night. The high scorer for the Rockets in that game was Rafer Alston going for 20 points on 8/11 shooting. For the game the Rockets shot 31/72 for a FG% of 43.1%. On defense the Rockets allowed the Cavs to shoot 38/78 from the floor for a FG% of 48.7%.
The Rockets rank 15th in the league in scoring (98.3 ppg) and the Hornets rank 24th (95 ppg). The reason both teams are near the top of the Southwest Division is their D, as the Hornets rank 3rd in terms of opponents points allowed (91.7 ppg) and the Rockets rank 8th (94 ppg). Both of these teams have a rebounding differential of about 1 rpg.
This season the Hornets are 10-12-2 ATS and the Rockets are 15-14. In terms of Over/Under games the Hornets are 9-17 and the Rockets are 19-12-1.
On the injury front SF Ron Artest and SG Brent Barry are day-to-day for the Rockets and PG Antonio Daniels and SF Peja Stojakovic are day-to-day for the Hornets.
The Rockets will have to have a better game tonight from Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, as in their last game these two scored a total of 23 points on a combined 5/17 shooting. Hell, McGrady only had 4 points in 30 minutes on the floor.
If McGrady can bounce back and have a good scoring game the Rockets may win, as the Hornets do not match up well with McGrady.
Rafer Alston will have to play good defense on Chris Paul and not allow him to penetrate and score off the dribble. Alston came back and had a good game on Tuesday night after missing 4 games due to injury. If Paul is allowed to penetrate he can either score or kick it out to the legit long-range gunners of the Hornets.
Tyson Chandler will have to get in the face of Yao Ming and not give him easy short range J’s.
Neither team has much inside presence and the Hornets have to wary of Ron Artest, who is as tough as they come and will take advantage of the soft inside D.
David West will have to pick up some scoring slack if Peja Stojakovic (13.1 ppg) misses another game with a sore back. Peja will be missed if he cannot go tonight, as he forces the defense to come out and defend the 3.
The Rockets finally are playing with Yao, McGrady and Artest on the court at the same time and they will need to have those three guys healthy if they are going to make a run at the Finals.
Tonight the Hornets look to avoid their first 3-game losing streak of the season.
Jason’s Pick: Look for Houston to give New Orleans all they can handle on their home court. Rockets cover the number.