NBA

NBA’s reigning MVP will miss at least two games with hamstring injury

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.

Follow Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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