Houston +4.5 at New Orleans O/U 216
A strong 65-46 second half by Houston catapulted them to a much needed home victory over division rival Dallas. Despite the absence of starting C Dwight Howard, Houston was able to out-rebound the Mavs 40-36 and they are now 2-0 since his back injury sidelined him. In those two victories over Milwaukee and Dallas, the Rockets launched 88 three pointers going 15-44 in each contest. New Orleans currently allows opponents to hit 36.5% of their threes which ranks ranks 22nd in the NBA and doesn’t bode well for them tonight. Houston has also had a couple of key additions to their lineup which have helped greatly during Howard’s absence. First off the return from injury of starting PG Patrick Beverly was very impactful in yesterday’s game as he held Mavs PG Derron Williams to just 1-of-9 FG shooting and 4 points. His defensive presence tonight figures to make things tough for Pelicans PG Norris Cole (starting due to the season ending injury to Eric Gordon) and his backup Jrue Holiday. Matchups continue to be tough for New Orleans in the backcourt as the shaky knee of Tyreke Evans must deal with Rockets star SG James Harden. Another positive for Houston came to light in yesterday’s game as Josh Smith who was acquired late last week returned to the Rockets bench and contributed 16 points. Houston’s depth is now better equipped to absorb back-back contests and even the current injury to Howard. However, they do face a suddenly hot New Orleans squad which has rattled off three straight double digit wins and are with four games of the Western Conference’s eight playoff spot. PF Anthony Davis has spurred the charge along with red hot three point shooting which has totaled 32/66/48.5% during the 3-0 run. Pelicans have also been on an “over” binge going 5-0 over the total in their last five games. These teams have split their two meeting thus far with the home team winning each but New Orleans was only 6-11 ats at home prior to their recent three wins. Power Ratings made this game pick-em and with +5 available at some major shops, have to side with the underdog which has the potential to win straight up here.