Nets' James Harden Cleared to Play vs. LeBron James, Lakers on Christmas Day

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IV

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) is shown against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden will play against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day, according to Nets head coach Steve Nash on Friday.

That comes one day after Harden and and forward Paul Millsap were cleared from the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Harden was placed in the protocols Dec. 14, with Millsap having been placed there one day earlier. 

The 32-year-old Harden sat out the previous game as a rest day, his first missed action of the 2021-22 season. Both Harden and Millsap have missed the last four games.

Though Harden stayed mostly healthy throughout his career with the Houston Rockets, he hasn't had quite as much luck with the Nets, missing significant time in 2020-21 because of hamstring problems.

The production has also dropped for a player who won three straight scoring titles from 2018 to 2020. Through 26 games in 2021-22, he is averaging 20.8 points, 9.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game.

However, the nine-time All-Star remains an elite offensive weapon for a team that has high expectations this season.

Getting Harden and Millsap back is a step in the right direction for the Nets, who at one point had double digits in protocols. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are among the players still in protocols.

Irving has not played in a single game this season after declining to get vaccinated. The Nets, however, recently decided he would rejoin the team and play in road games.