The Houston Rockets announced on Monday that All-NBA guard James Harden suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain during Sunday's double-overtime win over the Lakers, forcing him to miss at least two weeks of action before being re-evaluated.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Harden's injury fell between the more minor and major outcomes that could have occurred.
"There are multiple muscle groups that make up a hamstring complex," Dr. Steven Flores said, while emphasizing that he was speaking of Grade 2 muscle strains in general rather than his examination and treatment of Harden. "The injuries generally occur to one muscle belly out of the group. They are graded based on severity, two being a significant injury, but not something that requires surgery. It generally heals on its own with time, regaining function. That's a variable time frame.
"A Grade 1 is essentially very small micro tears. A Grade 3 is complete disruption of the muscle. Everything in between is essentially a Grade 2 and there is no real distinction between different types of partial tears."
Harden felt a "pull" in the muscle on a drive in the final minute of the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Sunday, immediately doubling over in pain. He limped slowly to the Rockets locker room and was still unable to bend his leg after treatment following the game.
"It's not a quick return at all," said Dr. Walter Lowe, the Texans team physician who also works with the Rockets but has not examined Harden. "We use PRP these days, that's platelet rich plasma. You spin down blood, take platelets that have a bunch of healing factors in them. We use drugs orally that prevent fibrosis and scarring and all of that helps a lot. But the fast ones are two to three weeks and the slow ones of the Grade 2s are four to six weeks.
"Basketball is a tough one to come back from because you do nothing but run non-stop. Hamstrings are just so variable from guy to guy, you get the best read about a week into it as far as what the time frame will be."
The loss of Harden takes place just after the Rockets welcomed back All-Star guard Chris Paul from a three-game absence due to groin injury. Paul was fantastic after Harden went down on Sunday night, scoring 15 of his 28 points in the two overtimes despite playing beyond the team's intended restriction of his playing time. The victory snapped Houston's five-game losing streak.
Harden leads the league in scoring (32.3 points per game), 3-pointers made (145) and free throws made (319) and attempted (368). He also ranks third in assists per game (9.1). Harden has missed just one game due to injury over the past four seasons.
Houston is second in the Western Conference with a 26-9 record.