ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon noted that Harden received treatment on his neck and shoulder during Thursday's 111-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. His ailments did not appear to affect his play too much, though, as he extended his 30-point streak to 32 consecutive games.
Harden averaged a league-high 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists last year en route to winning the Most Valuable Player Award. He also helped get Houston to within a game of the NBA Finals, and the Rockets may have upset the Golden State Warriors were it not for Chris Paul's hamstring injury.
As good as Harden was in 2017-18, the Rockets need him to be even better to take down the Warriors this season. They lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency, and signing Carmelo Anthony proved to be a disaster. Trading Ryan Anderson to the Phoenix Suns also meant losing a proven three-point threat at power forward.
Harden has risen to the occasion so far. Through 55 games, he's averaging 36.5 points and 7.7 assists while shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range. He has almost single-handedly kept Houston's playoff hopes alive despite Paul and Clint Capela battling injuries of their own.
A left hamstring strain already cost Harden some time this year. In what's likely to be a tightly packed Western Conference, Houston can ill afford to lose him to injury again.