Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden returned to the floor against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. It was his first appearance for the Nets since they played the New York Knicks on April 5. The nine-time All-Star has been dealing with a hamstring strain and the Nets have been extremely cautious in managing his injury. He finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 11 assists in his return as the Nets cruised to a 128-116 victory.
Harden’s presence in the contest was immediately felt. Throughout the game, the Nets just seemed to be better with their communication and organization on the court. For the first time in quite some time, they looked like a complete team.
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James Harden Pays Homage to Bobby Shmurda After Filthy Play
‘The Beard’ was not all business during Wednesday’s game. Harden, one of the most electrifying players in the league was in his bag from the moment that he checked in during the second quarter. In the second half, the All-Star put Spurs’ guard Devin Vassell on skates before hitting a three-pointer.
Harden was not done there, after hitting the and-one three, ‘The Beard’ paid tribute to Brooklyn rap artist Bobby Shmurda by hitting his patented ‘shmoney dance.’
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Harden Gifted Shmurda His Jersey This Season
Earlier this season, Harden gifted Shmurda his game-worn jersey at a game that the platinum artist recently attended. The 26-year-old was recently released from prison after a seven-year bid and his fans have long-awaited his return.
Kevin Durant Sounds off on Kyrie Irving’s Injury
The Nets trio of Harden, Durant, and Kyrie Irving have still only played seven games together. Durant surprisingly played the second half of a back-to-back with Harden, but Kyrie did not as the Nets ruled him out of the contest with the Spurs due to a facial contusion.
Irving caught a nasty elbow from Bulls big man Nikola Vucevic on Tuesday and was on the floor in visible pain before being helped to the locker room. He did not return to the game. What was a scary moment for Nets fans, was just another day at the office for KD. As a teammate of Kyrie’s, he knows Irving tends to mix it up with front-court players. Bumps and bruises are something that just comes with that territory.
“Yeah, I thought he would be alright. I know he mixes it up a lot with the big fellas so he might catch an elbow here and there,” Durant told reporters after the win via SNY. “But Kyrie he just plays with such toughness and competitiveness. So, I knew he would get up, but I knew he took a pretty nice one to the face, a nice elbow to the face so hopefully, he’ll get checked out tomorrow, see if everything is alright, and move forward.”
With just two games remaining in the regular season, time is running short for the Nets All-Star trio to take the court together. While the chemistry of Irving, Durant, and Harden is certainly something that comes to question, the talent that the Nets have is undeniable. What remains to be seen is if the talent will outweigh the inevitable bumps on the road during their championship chase. The Nets’ next game is against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.