Houston has played without reigning MVP James Harden before, and the Rockets have been just fine. But this may be a different story.
Harden will miss at least the next two games with a left hamstring strain and will be re-evaluated before the team’s five-game trip beginning Nov. 2 at Brooklyn.
The guard left Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz midway through the fourth quarter of Houston’s loss, which dropped the Rockets to 1-3. They also played the game without Chris Paul, who was serving the second game of his two-game suspension for his role in the Los Angeles Lakers-Rockets on-court melee.
The Rockets' slow start combined with Harden’s injury compounds early-season issues.
Harden told reporters it was nothing serious, and certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts, who maintains a comprehensive database of NBA injuries, tweeted, “A Grade 1+ strain means damage has occurred to individual muscle fibers but not to a high enough percentage to classify it as a Grade 2 or partial tear. These injuries usually accompanied by pain with movement but minimal functional loss.”
Harden missed seven games in January of last season with a grade 2 strain of his left hamstring.
Houston’s next seven games feature some difficult tests: Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, then a trip that includes matchups against the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
Houston also will be without James Ennis (Grade 2 right hamstring strain) for at least the next two games. And Nene, who has yet to play this season, will miss at least the next two weeks with a strained right calf.
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