Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
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One of the NBA’s best teams will have to go forward without the league’s top scorers for at least two weeks.
The Houston Rockets (26-9) announced James Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer at 32.1 point per game, will be sidelined for at least two weeks with a Grade 2 left hamstring strain.
He suffered the injury on a drive to the hoop in the final minute of regulation in a 148-142 double-overtime triumph over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. Despite not playing the extra 10 minutes, Harden still piled up 40 points, 11 assists, two steals and two blocked shots in 41 minutes of playing time in the win.
A Grade 2 hamstring strain involves a partial tear. Harden will be examined again in two weeks to determine his status at that point.
Harden has been extremely durable, despite his style of play, which includes drawing a ton of contact and wearing out a path to the free-throw line. Harden has averaged 10 or more free-throw attempts in each of the last four seasons and five or the last six. He has missed a total of only two games since the start of the 2014-15 season and has never missed more than nine games in a season.
In addition to his league-leading scoring average, Harden also ranks third in the league in assists at 9.1 per game.
Houston, which snapped a five-game skid with its conquest of the Lakers on Sunday night, just welcomed standout guard Chris Paul and center Clint Capela back from injury. The Rockets lost all three games Paul sat out during the losing streak and Capela did not play in four of those five defeats because of a right orbital fracture and a bruised left heel.
The Rockets’ 26-9 mark is even more impressive considering Paul has missed 18 games this season because of injury. When Houston has Harden and Paul both available, it is a stellar 15-2.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound left-hander out of Arizona State is a career 22.7 points-per-game scorer.
Averaging 115.2 points per game this season, Houston is tied with defending champion Golden State as the highest-scoring team in the league. The Rockets stand two games behind the Warriors (29-8) in the Western Conference standings. The Rockets will host the Warriors on Thursday night.