Rockets' James Harden Out vs. Warriors with Neck Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2019

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) waits for the ball to be thrown in during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Houston Rockets star James Harden will not play in Saturday night's game against the Golden State Warriors because of a cervical strain, according to Houston's Craig Ackerman.

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.

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