UPDATE: Sunday, Feb. 17, at 6:54 p.m. ET by Rob Goldberg
James Harden's status for the All-Star game was in jeopardy, but it appears that he will suit up, according to Jason Friedman of Rockets.com:
James Harden will play tonight.— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) February 17, 2013
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 14, at 12:26 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
James Harden (ankle) is progressing nicely, but is uncertain if he will play in Sunday's All-Star game, according to MyFoxHouston.com's Mark Berman.
James Harden says the swelling has gone down in his sore right ankle. Says he can walk with no issues. Not sure he'll play in All-Star game— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 14, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 10:07 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
It looks like there has been a change of plans—again. According to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen, Harden will not play against the Clippers on Wednesday:
Change in plans. Harden will not play. He was named a starter, but was just ruled out.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 14, 2013
Feigen also noted how strange this particular late-scratch was for the Rockets shooting guard:
Pretty remarkable. Harden went through warmups. The starters were turned in. As the 15, 20 mins passed, the soreness changed the decision.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 14, 2013
When initially reported, Houston holding Harden out seemed like a precautionary move, and the pregame hubbub falls directly in line with that assumption. As of now, he is still expected to play in Sunday's All-Star Game, but one has to wonder just how participatory Harden will wind up being.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 9:50 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant
According to Houston correspondent Jason Friedman, Harden is active and in the starting lineup tonight as the Rockets travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers:
James Harden will play tonight and is going to start (of course)— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) February 14, 2013
The news might come as a shock to Rockets fan, especially after earlier reports that he would be forced out of the lineup due to the ankle flare up.
However, it appears Harden will give it a go. We'll see whether he's limited or not by the injury, but either way the Rockets will likely need his scoring presence to knock off the Clippers in a matchup of two current Western Conference playoff teams.
---End of update---
According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, Harden will miss Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers after re-aggravating an ankle injury on Tuesday:
Rockets James Harden will miss Wednesday's game at Clippers with ankle injury but will be ready for Sunday's All-Star Game.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 13, 2013
Though this may seem like cause for worry, the Rockets holding out Harden seems to be a precautionary move. The 23-year-old guard injured his ankle in the third quarter of Houston's 116-106 victory over the Golden State Warriors after stepping on David Lee's foot. He ultimately left the game for a short period, per the Rockets' official Twitter feed, but was almost immediately brought back into the contest.
Prior to his injury, Harden had 20 points and six rebounds, but had struggled to a 5-of-17 shooting performance. Upon return, Harden's off shooting night did not get much better, but he was still able to finish with 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists versus a struggling Warriors team.
That stat line may seem impressive, especially after an injury, but it's become par for the course for Harden in 2012-13. Traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder four days prior to the season, Harden has ascended to superstardom with the Rockets. He was averaging 26.1 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game while leading Houston to a surprising No. 8 seed in the Western Conference heading into the All-Star break.
Harden's play has been solid enough to garner his first All-Star selection, and he would likely appear on more than a few midseason MVP ballots. So one could probably understand why the Rockets would want to be cautious.
Nevertheless, ankle injuries are prone to re-aggravation, so it will be interesting to see how much Harden plays in Sunday's All-Star Game. Be sure to check back in as we give you the latest updates on Harden's injury status heading into this weekend's festivities.