The Houston Rockets will begin life without their Kia MVP candidate, James Harden, starting tomorrow night in Orlando (7 ET, NBA League Pass). Harden will be out at least two weeks as he heals up from a hamstring injury suffered late in Houston’s win on New Year’s Eve against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters today that he and his team are forging ahead without their star, with new roles and expectations being placed upon some players. Foremost among the to-do list was finding Harden’s replacement in the starting lineup, a job reigning Kia Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon will take on.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has more from D’Antoni and the Rockets as they move on while Harden heals:
While the news is a blow to the team, they were moving forward and preparing for life without Harden for the foreseeable future.
“We will adjust,” Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s an opportunity for other people to play. (Chris Paul) will still lead the charge. We have to just make the best of a bad situation, but everyone deals with it. There’s no reason we can’t deal with it.
Eric Gordon will start in place of Harden. Gordon is is averaging 19.4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists per outing.
“We will definitely have to adjust how we play, the man averages 30 points a game,” Paul said. “We will be OK, though. We have a great group. We have guys who have played a lot of minutes and now it means a little more.
“It will be by committee.”
D’Antoni said he and his staff are addressing defense as a first priority for the Rockets as they begin this Harden-less run, and that he is hoping Harden is able to return as soon as possible.
“He’s going to be bored out of his mind, four weeks, two weeks, whatever it is,” D’Antoni said. “He’ll do what he needs to do and then he’ll get back as soon as he can.”
Mike D'Antoni has spoken to James Harden who's out injured: "Yeah he's fine. He's going to be bored out of his mind, 4 weeks, 2 weeks, whatever it is. He'll do what he needs to do and then he'll get back as soon as he can." pic.twitter.com/s62I3KQnSi
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 2, 2018