The Houston Rockets plan to have their star shooting guard James Harden back on the floor on Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, barring any setbacks, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
Harden has missed the last seven games and is officially listed as questionable after suffering a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring. The injury took place during a driving layup attempt in the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 31.
Offseason acquisition Chris Paul has done his best to keep the ship afloat, but the team has only managed to go 4-3 in his absence, despite a 37-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers last week.
Harden’s return comes in a bar-measuring affair against the fourth-place Timberwolves, who sit three games behind the Rockets in the Western Conference race. The Beard leads the league in scoring by a sizable margin with 32.3 points per game, four more than the second-leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
His offensive firepower has been tough to replace, and could be even tougher with several player under investigation from the league office for a post-game fiasco after a road loss to the L.A. Clippers.
Among them are Paul, forwards Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green, center Clint Capela, and Harden himself. Though Ariza is largely seen as the primary aggressor in the ordeal, the other Rockets, including Harden could face a fine or even a suspension, as the league looks to crack down on any on or off-court violence between its players.