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Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni doubts James Harden is back by Friday

The Houston Rockets are toeing a slippery slope after a franchise-best 65-win season, staring a mere 1-4 this young season and looking that much more vulnerable without their MVP James Harden on the floor. Harden suffered a strained hamstring and missed the Rockets’ last game against the L.A. Clippers on Friday, now head coach Mike D’Antoni is doubting his star could return in time for this Friday’s tilt against the Brooklyn Nets.

“(Harden is) progressing well,” D’Antoni said, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “Just a matter of time. I don’t know what that time is, but I think they will be reevaluated this weekend when we are on our road trip. I’m hoping in the next six days or so they might be cleared, but that’s a guess.”

“I don’t think anything’s been determined, but I would say doubtful (that Harden or Ennis could play on Friday) for right now. Maybe doubtful in a couple peoples’ minds. In James (Harden’s) mind probably not doubtful, but we’re going to be cautious with him, make sure we don’t mess it up.”

Mike D’Antoni and the Rockets will be careful with their James Harden, but they also can’t risk falling behind against the murderers’ row that is the Western Conference, especially with up-and-coming teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets that have proven much-improved through the early get-go.

Houston was already facing questions when it comes to its defense, but now finds itself in dire need of help after suffering three of their four losses by an average of 16.7 points.