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James Harden to Return from Hamstring Injury vs. T-Wolves on Minutes Restriction

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2018

Houston Rockets guard James Harden reacts after scoring against the Sacramento Kings during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The Rockets won 105-100.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
Steve Yeater/Associated Press

Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden will be on a minutes restriction when he returns from a hamstring injury Thursday night to face the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle provided the status update ahead of the nationally broadcast matchup between two of the Western Conference's top four teams.

Harden suffered the injury during the Rockets' double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on New Year's Eve. He missed the team's last seven games while recovering.

"It just feels good to be back out here around your teammates and that good energy and just hooping again," Harden told reporters Wednesday. "Two-and-a-half weeks felt like a very long time. I look back at it and just say it was something I needed mentally, physically and to just get my mind right. Obviously, my body is well. Hopefully I won't have to go through that again."

The five-time All-Star selection was enjoying another terrific season for Houston before the setback. He's averaging an NBA-best 32.3 points to go along with 9.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game across 35 appearances.

He also leads the league in Player Efficiency Rating ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, per ESPN.com.

ESPN Stats & Info provided a note about the Rockets' 30-12 record based on who's available to play:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The Rockets are 15-0 this season when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all play. They are 15-12 in all other games.

Meanwhile, Harden avoided suspension for the locker-room confrontation involving the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, clearing the way for him to return Thursday.  

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