Harden likely to miss Friday’s game with hamstring injury

James Harden’s injured left hamstring will likely keep him out of Houston’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

Harden didn’t practice on Thursday after leaving Wednesday night’s loss to Utah after experiencing tightness in the hamstring in the fourth quarter.

Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t completely rule out last season’s MVP for Friday’s game but said it’s “very doubtful” that he’ll play.

Harden scored 29 points Wednesday night in the 100-89 defeat that dropped the Rockets to 1-3 before heading to the locker room with just more than five minutes remaining.

D’Antoni says Harden will have an MRI on Thursday and that they’ll know more about his injury after that but noted it’s probably a bit more serious than simply tightness.

“He’s getting an MRI so that will tell us something and then it’s probably closer to a strain than it is tightness,” D’Antoni said. “He wouldn’t have gone out if it was just tightness. He felt a little bit more, I’m sure.”

Harden missed seven games last season with a Grade 2 hamstring strain and said after the game this was not the same type of injury.

“It’s nothing serious. Nothing serious,” he said. “It’s not close to last year. Just being cautious.”

D’Antoni said he doesn’t expect this problem to cause Harden to miss extended time. Houston has won just one of its four games.

“Long-term not concerned because he’ll get over it … (but) I’m concerned about trying to win in the meantime,” D’Antoni said. “But we’ve got enough guys and we’ve got to hold serve and we’ve got to play better. Whether he’s in or not, we’re just not playing very well.”

The Rockets will get a boost with the return of Chris Paul, who missed the last two games serving a suspension for his role in a fight with Lakers’ player Rajon Rondo.

“It was tough,” he said. “But I did my time.”

Paul, who wasn’t allowed on the bench with the team during his suspension, watched Wednesday night’s game at home with his family.

“It was real strange. Let’s try and hope that doesn’t happen again. It costs too much,” said Paul of the suspension that cost him $491,782.

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