New Orleans at Houston

Venue: Toyota Center

The Houston Rockets have pulled off back-to-back victories over the teams that reached the Western Conference finals last season and are in search of some consistency with a matchup looming against one of the NBA's top squads.

Before visiting Oklahoma City, James Harden and the Rockets will try to avoid overlooking New Orleans and beat the Pelicans for a fifth straight time at home Saturday.

Houston (20-11), which has gone 7-6 in December, has bounced back from its worst loss of the season with three wins in four games since a 114-81 defeat at Indiana on Dec. 20.

The Rockets' most recent performances may prove they're headed in the right direction. They won 111-98 at San Antonio on Wednesday before a 100-92 home victory over Memphis a day later.

Building on those victories is key before facing the Thunder on Sunday. Oklahoma City is tied with Portland for the league's best record, but the team will be without Russell Westbrook for an extended period following arthroscopic knee surgery.

The Rockets could use another productive effort from Harden, who has totaled 55 points over the past two games after sitting out the previous two with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star guard, however, struggled from the field against the Grizzlies, going 2 for 9. He still finished with 27 points by sinking a career-best 22 of his 25 attempts from the line, tying the team record for free throws made set by Sleepy Floyd in 1991.

"Just being aggressive, being aggressive," Harden said of getting to the stripe. "I couldn't make a shot. I just tried to get to the rim. We were kind of stagnant through the middle of the game, especially the third quarter, so I just wanted to get in attack mode."

Harden has done plenty of that against the Pelicans (13-14), averaging 29.0 points on 50.0 percent shooting over the past four matchups.

He had 31 points and seven assists to power a 104-92 win at Toyota Center on Jan. 2, while the Rockets extended their home winning streak in the series to four games.

Dwight Howard may be thrilled to face New Orleans after averaging 23.2 points over his last nine matchups. He's coming off a season-low two points Thursday, when he was plagued by foul trouble and a stiff back.

The Pelicans are looking for a three-game winning streak of their own after beating Denver 105-89 on Friday on the heels of ending a four-game slide Monday with a 113-100 victory at Sacramento.

New Orleans has made 19 of 41 3-point attempts over its last two games and has spread the ball around with 28 assists in each contest.

Tyreke Evans has been a big part of the Pelicans' recent success, averaging 21.7 points and 9.3 assists in the last three games. After spending his first four seasons as a key starter for Sacramento, Evans is settling into his role off the bench.

"It's important," said Evans, who is averaging 12.8 points in his first season with New Orleans. "When we come in like that and play together, find each other, move the ball ... I think that's when we're at our best."

Anthony Davis continues to give the Pelicans a strong presence in the paint, averaging 20.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in four games after missing seven with a broken left hand.

He wasn't nearly that effective in four meetings with the Rockets last season, mustering 8.0 points per game and 5.3 boards.

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TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
New Orleans5th Southwest 3052.366374-6Lost 3
Houston4th Southwest 4141.500266-4Won 3

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New Orleans
A GeeQuadriceps
No injuries reported.
Key Players
Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis, PF
33.8 Min. Per Game 33.5 Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard, C
19.2 Pts. Per Game 18.0
1.4 Ast. Per Game 1.8
10.1 Reb. Per Game 13.3
50.5 Field Goal % 58.4
0 Three Point % 33.3
80.3 Free Throw % 56.5
Series Game Log
Other Games
Cle 100 Final
Bos 103
Brook 91 Final
Ind 105
Det 82 Final
Wash 106
NY 100 Final
Tor 115
Char 116 Final
Atl 118
Dal 105 Final
Chi 83
Den 99 Final
Mem 120
Min 117 Final
Mil 95
Phi 101 Final
Pho 115
Miami 108 Final
Port 107
Utah 90 Final
LAC 98