While the Houston Rockets attempt to get healthy, James Harden has consistently put up huge games with the shorthanded roster. Although Houston suffered a rare blowout last game against the Philadelphia 76ers, they’ll look to bounce back against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Unfortunately, this game won’t mark the return of Chris Paul, but it does seem as though he’s getting close.
The Rockets (26-20) have rotated wins and losses over each of the past nine games, but the 121-93 loss to the Sixers Monday was a tough one. Even on the road in this game, it’s expected the Rockets will be able to get back to the winning ways behind a red-hot James Harden. The NBA’s reigning MVP has scored 40-plus points in five of the last seven games while racking up 37 and 38 points in the other two.
Let’s take a look at the latest on the Rockets roster and starting lineup, as well as a potential timeline for Chris Paul’s return from a hamstring injury.
Rockets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Knicks
|Power Forward||P.J. Tucker||Gary Clark||Marquese Chriss|
|Small Forward||Eric Gordon||James Ennis|
|Shooting Guard||Austin Rivers||Gerald Green|
|Point Guard||James Harden||Vincent Edwards|
Update: The Rockets will start Kenneth Faried over Nene Hilario, who’s been ruled out for rest purposes.
It’s not all that surprising to see the Rockets opt to go with Faried as a starter after he played 23 minutes to the eight Nene Hilario saw last game. It is a little interesting that Hilario is getting the night off altogether, as the Rockets are still lacking big men. Beyond that, the Rockets starting lineup will likely remain similar to what we’ve seen since Eric Gordon returned from injury.
Nene being out means Houston may give the lineup with P.J. Tucker at center another go at various points in this game. It’s a small-ball lineup in the most literal sense, and points to Tucker likely guarding either Enes Kanter or Mitchell Robinson.
Latest on Chris Paul Injury & Return Date
With Paul ruled out against the Knicks, it marks game No. 16 he’s missed after suffering a Grade-2 left hamstring strain back on December 20. While it’s been a long rehab process, it seems the veteran is getting close to returning to action which should help the Rockets with their depth in a big way.
Last Friday, January 18, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects Paul to return this week, as Salman Ali of USA TODAY SMG revealed.
Shortly after that news came, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko revealed that the All-Star guard was able to return to practice on Friday as well. Iko stated that he looked to “be a full go” during the session.
Considering we know Paul is out Wednesday, this means his return could come Friday in a nationally-televised matchup with the Toronto Raptors. If not, then Sunday against the Orlando Magic would be an option.