2014 NBA schedule: Rockets aim to burn past Clips, Dubs face Bulls

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Saving the best for last, the red-hot Houston Rockets visit the Los Angeles Clippers, who themselves are showing signs they're for real.

It's one of those days where you might want to save your appetite for dessert. While the 10-game NBA lineup on Wednesday includes the Warriors visiting the Bulls and the Pelicans facing the Mavericks, the late ESPN clash between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers is the game to watch.

The dessert: Rockets vs. Clippers

10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

It's starting to feel a lot like the playoffs. The Houston Rockets' signing of Dwight Howard made them a darn good team, but now they're frighteningly rounding into shape. Having won 10 of their last 11, the Rockets visit Staples Center to face a Los Angeles Clippers team that's still in the process of feeling out their own offseason acquisition, coach Doc Rivers.

Sunday Shootaround

The good news for Los Angeles is that it has two early-November victories over Houston. The bad news is that Rivers' team has needed to score in bunches to win and in its last five victories hasn't scored less than 118 points. That's needed against Houston, but how the defense, bad matchups and all, handles an an equally-explosive Rockets office will be a high priority as well.

Rockets center Dwight Howard will find resistance against much-improved big man DeAndre Jordan, but it's a wonder who on the Clippers will be able to handle James Harden, who is coming off a 43-point game against Sacramento where even Kings fans were showing him love.

The appetizer: Warriors vs. Bulls

8 p.m. ET

Two teams who have thus far failed to meet lofty expectations haven't quit. Instead, the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors meet on Wednesday having found their respective mojo. Golden State has won four straight, and Chicago seems ready to build itself above .500 thanks to wins in six of its last seven games.

The Warriors, who surprisingly have leaned upon strong defensive efforts lately, are attempting to get more out of their bench beyond Harrison Barnes, and the backcourt duo of Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford are in the middle of those wishes. Meanwhile, Chicago has relied heavily upon bench forward Taj Gibson and backup point guard D.J. Augustin to give it a jump-start.

The main course: Pelicans vs. Mavericks

8 p.m. ET, ESPN

It's a battle of the weird. Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki grew into and still is one of the most unique big men the NBA has seen. Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis is next in line to fall into the same label, but obviously by way of a very different skillset. The old faces the young in Big D, but it's also a hodgepodge of highly-criticized perimeter players in the Mavs' Monta Ellis and the Pelicans' Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans.

New Orleans will be looking to break a four-game skid while Dallas comes in winner in nine of its last 11 games.

The rest of the schedule (ET)

Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 7 p.m.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m.

Detroit Pistons vs. San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m.

Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz, 9 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.

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