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James Harden likely limited to 24-25 minutes in return vs. Timberwolves

James Harden will likely be limited to a 24-to-25-minute stint on the court when he makes his return against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, according to head coach Mike D’Antoni, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The Beard missed the last seven games since the start of the new year, a stretch in which his Rockets have gone 4-3 without his services.

D’Antoni and his coaching staff will try to ease him back into the rotation, hoping not to complicate the Grade 2 strain that sidelined him on a Dec. 31 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden’s furious offensive arsenal has concretized in a 32.3 points per game average, four points higher than the second-leading scorer, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Amounting to nearly a third of the team’s offense, Harden’s contributions as a scorer and playmaker should bring an interesting twist against another Western Conference contender in the Timberwolves, who were recently humbled by the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

The veteran two-guard wanted to test out his left hamstring in a full practice run before considering himself probable for Thursday, but he will also have Thursday’s shootaround to gauge how he feels.

Harden is also involved in an investigation by the league office in which he approached the L.A. Clippers locker room at the end of a 113-102 loss on Monday night. While most reports have concluded that his teammate Trevor Ariza was the main “aggressor,” the bearded guard said some of the references made since that night are inaccurate, per Feigen.