Rockets, Pelicans to play 2 preseason games in China

The Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans are going global.

The two Southwest Division teams will face off in two preseason games in China next season as part of the NBA's Global Games China series, the league announced Tuesday night.

The first game will be held Oct. 9 in Shanghai. The follow-up will be Oct. 12 in Beijing.

"We are thrilled to bring NBA teams once again to Beijing and Shanghai," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "NBA fans in China are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the game of basketball. The China Games deliver the live, authentic NBA experience to our Chinese fans and provide our teams and players an opportunity to learn more about the Chinese people and culture."

The Rockets will make their first visit to Shangai since 2004, when former Houston center and Chinese basketball luminary Yao Ming played in front of his home crowd.

"Our entire Houston Rockets team is looking forward to returning to China, to compete and play our best basketball for our loyal and passionate fans," Rockets star James Harden said in a statement. "We are proud of the special bond our team has with the Chinese fans, and we know the atmosphere at the games will be electrifying."

The games mark the first time the Pelicans franchise will play in China.

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to play in front of the Chinese fans for the first time in our franchise's history," Anthony Davis of the Pelicans said in a statement. "During my past visits to China, I was amazed to see the fans' love and excitement for the game of basketball. Visiting Beijing and Shanghai and interacting with the Chinese fans is going to be an incredible experience to share with my coaches and teammates."

The Rockets entered play Tuesday at 36-38 overall this season and are currently slotted for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs with two weeks left to play in the regular season.

The Pelicans, now 27-46 overall after a rash of injuries, were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Monday.