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Houston Rockets hope star guard James Harden can return from Grade 2 right hamstring strain within a week

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LOS ANGELES — The Houston Rockets hope star guard James Harden can return from a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring within a week, coach Mike D’Antoni said.

“It could be Thursday or Saturday, I don’t know,” D’Antoni said before the Rockets’ practice Sunday at UCLA. “He’s got to get better. We’ll see. Whenever he’s ready.”

Houston has home games against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday and the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

Harden will miss his seventh consecutive game when he sits out Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers, with the Rockets going 4-2 without him so far. He suffered the injury on Dec. 31, when he drove for a layup in the fourth quarter of a double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets originally announced that Harden, an MVP candidate who leads the league in scoring (32.3 points per game) and ranks fourth in assists (9.1), would be reevaluated in two weeks. Houston’s medical staff has been encouraged by the progress of Harden, who has resumed basketball activities but is not a full participant in practice yet.

The Rockets could get another key contributor back as soon as Monday, as valuable reserve forward Luc Mbah a Moute‘s availability against the Clippers will be determined after Sunday’s practice. Mbah a Moute has missed the past month because of a dislocated right shoulder.

Reserve center Tarik Black (right eye abrasion) could also be available against the Clippers after missing Friday’s win over the Phoenix Suns. D’Antoni also anticipates that backup center Nene, who has been sidelined since Jan. 3 by a right knee bruise, will return soon.

“Then we’re full strength,” said D’Antoni, whose team is second in the Western Conference standings with a 30-11 record. “That’s not too far off, so that’s good.”



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