The Houston Rockets were able to overcome the absence of their star and leader in James Harden when they faced the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. In arguably one of their most impressive victories of the season, the Rockets took down the Warriors on the road 118-112.
Harden was sidelined for the game due to a strained neck, and in his absence virtually every member of the Rockets stepped up in some fashion. Chris Paul posted a superb stat line with 23 points, 17 assists and five rebounds while Eric Gordon poured in 25 points and both Kenneth Faried (20 points, 10 rebounds) and P.J. Tucker (18/10) double-doubled.
Coming out of the weekend, the Rockets face the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and Harden’s status for the game looks good at this point. Time will tell whether it changes, but there’s optimism as tip draws closer.
Mike D’Antoni Addresses James Harden’s Injury Status vs. Hawks
The arrow is pointing up currently for Harden’s chances to suit up in this game. As The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani reported, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni stated that nothing is written in stone, but that he expects the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player to suit up.
Coach D’Antoni on if he expects James Harden to play: “Knowing James Harden, yes. Not written in stone, but yes.” Bijani tweeted.
If the call is Harden’s to make, it’s tough to envision a world where he doesn’t play, even against the lottery-bound Hawks. After all, the Rockets are currently jockeying for position in a crowded Western Conference and sit with a 34-25 record, good for the No. 5 seed at this moment.
Houston is just two games behind the fourth-seed Portland Trail Blazers and four games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the No. 3 spot. The biggest concern for the Rockets could be the logjam that’s currently behind them in the standings, as four teams are within three games. Just beyond that sit LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (29-30), who are five games back of Houston.
James Harden’s Stats During Dominant Season
Harden is averaging 36.5 points, 7.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds this year, and as stellar as those numbers are, they don’t fully explain how great he’s been. The 29-year-old stepped up and dominated when the Rockets roster was riddled with injuries.
During the month of January, Harden racked up averages of 43.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game. He’s reeled off 32 straight games with 30-plus points and if able to play against Atlanta it’s likely he’ll have a good chance to extend that streak to 33 games. While there’s been no official word just yet, it does seem that Harden is likely to play in this game.