Houston Rockets vs. New Orleans Hornets Preview and Pick – 29123

Houston Rockets (34-20) +3, 190 at New Orleans Hornets (37-15), 8 pm Eastern Friday
by Zman of Predictem.com

Two of the hottest teams in the league clash when the Houston Rockets hit the Big Easy for a date with the New Orleans Hornets Friday night.

Online Sportsbooks list the Hornets as 3 1/2-point home chalk for Friday’s game, while the total has risen from 187 to 190. Also, New Orleans is tagged at right around -185 on various Vegas moneylines, with Houston getting +160 as road underdogs.

The Rockets are really rolling, having won 10 games in a row after Thursday’s 112-100 win over Miami in which they shot 54% from the field. Houston seems stuck in fourth place in the Southwest Division, though, four games back of the first-place Hornets. But more importantly, the Rockets own the seven spot in the tightly packed Western Conference standings, a game back of sixth-seeded Dallas and a half-game ahead of eighth-seeded Denver.

New Orleans has won five straight games after beating the Mavericks Wednesday 104-93. So the Hornets still sit atop the Southwest Division, a game and a half ahead of second-place San Antonio, and still lead the West by a game over both the Lakers and the Suns.

New Orleans beat the Rocks in the first meeting this season between these two teams 87-82 in Houston Jan. 13, in a game Tracy McGrady missed. Both teams shot just 42% from the field as the game stayed well below its total of 187.

The Hornets also took three of four from Houston last season. So over the last five meetings between these two teams, New Orleans is 4-1 SU and 5-0 against the spread. Also, the o/u is 2-3 in those last five games, which while varying wildly from 161 total points to 235, have averaged 190, which happens to be exactly Friday’s total.

This season, the Rockets are 29-24 ATS, 17-11 straight up and 16-12 vs. the numbers on the road.

Meanwhile, the Hornets are a profitable 33-19 against the spread this season, 18-8 SU and 15-11 vs. the numbers at home.

Statistically speaking, New Orleans ranks 5th in the league in point differential at +5.8 per game, while Houston ranks 10th at +3.3.

The Rockets are shooting 45% from the floor as a team this season, 34% from 3-point range and 73% from the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, the Hornets are shooting 46% from the field, 39% from beyond the arc and 78% from the stripe.

Also, while Houston leads the league in rebounding at +3.9 boards per game and ranks 2nd in FG defense at 44%, New Orleans ranks 7th in rebounding at +2.0 pg and 17th in FG defense at 46%.

Not only are these two teams division rivals, and play at least four times a season, there might be an increased degree of familiarity Friday after they exchanged four players earlier this week. The Hornets sent Bobby Jackson and Adam Haluska to H-Town for Mike James and Bonzi Wells.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks New Orleans 4th at 96.0, the Rockets 11th at 93.5. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.1.

The o/u is 22-31 in Houston games this season, which are averaging 189 total points, while the totals are 25-27 in Hornets games, which are averaging 195 points.

Zman’s Pick: Rockets +4.