Playoffs 2019 West Semifinals: Warriors (1) vs. Rockets (4)

Harden to play in Game 3 against Warriors

Rockets star guard reportedly suffered no damage to his corneas

James Harden squinted under the bright lights of the Toyota Center court on Thursday and parts of both eyes remained a garish, bloody red.

It was clear Houston’s superstar was still dealing with injuries to his eyes after being hit by Golden State’s Draymond Green in Game 2. Harden insisted the problem wouldn’t keep him out of Game 3 on Saturday (8:30 ET, ABC) as the Rockets try to climb out of an 0-2 series hole against the defending champions.

Harden practiced with the Rockets today despite injuries to both of his eyes.

It was clear that last year’s MVP was still struggling as he squinted under the light while answering questions about it. The entire left side of his left eye remained bloody, as did the left corner of his right eye.

“If I played barely seeing last game, what makes you think I’m going to sit out Game 3,” Harden asked defiantly.

Harden was injured midway through the first quarter Sunday night after an inadvertent blow to the face from Green as he tried to rebound a shot he missed. He immediately fell to the court where he remained writhing for a bit before he was tended to by Houston’s training staff and taken to the locker room. He returned with about seven minutes left in the second quarter and scored 29 points despite saying that his vision was extremely blurry and that he could see “nothing.”

“When he went out he had zero points and he comes back with not even one eye, one eye was almost shut and the other one was blurry and he gets 29 points,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Not many people would have played. So whatever happens, that’s pretty special.”

Though both eyes are injured, the left one is far worse than the right with the entire left side of his left eye remaining bloody. The right eye was bloody, too, but it was a much smaller section in the left corner of that eye.

“It’s still there,” Harden said. “It’s still tough, especially in bright lights but I can see y’all a little bit better so that’s all that matters.”

Harden said he visited a doctor on Wednesday and “he gave me some stuff to calm it down to make it better.” He said he didn’t know the exact diagnosis of his injury, but the team called it contusions to both eyes. He added that the doctor told him that he’d be “good,” but that it will take a few days to heal.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported on Thursday morning that the Rockets are optimistic that Harden will not have any further problems with his vision. Per MacMahon, once the Rockets arrived back in Texas yesterday afternoon, Harden had several tests done with an eye doctor.

There was no damage to either of Harden’s corneas, per MacMahon, and the team expects his vision to be completely clear as Houston tries to climb from its 2-0 series deficit to the Warriors.

Last year’s MVP said he’s dealt with a variety of injuries, but that this one has been the most difficult.

“It’s different,” he said. “Like an ankle injury, I’ve rolled my ankle 100 times or whatnot and you kind of know how to deal with that. When you’ve got blurry vision and you can’t see it’s really difficult. But still no excuses.”

Both Harden and D’Antoni scoffed at the notion that he would wear goggles or protective eye wear of any kind on Saturday. D’Antoni even went so far as to make a joke about if he’d need something like that to play.

“Maybe one patch over an eye,” he said snickering. “It’s going to be the pirate look.”

Harden finished Game 2 with 29 points and seven rebounds in the Rockets’ 115-109 loss. However, his eyes were still red and bothering him postgame.

“It hurt,” Harden said after Game 2. “I could barely see. Just try to go out there and do what I can to help my teammates. It’s pretty blurry right now. Hopefully it gets better day by day.

“Can’t see nothing. Barely can see.”

Harden’s eyes were especially sensitive to light after the game as Harden squinted and shielded his eyes repeatedly throughout Game 2 and in his postgame news conference.

After the game, Green said he made a mistake and hit Harden in his eye. He checked on the Rockets’ star after the game and, in his postgame news conference said: “It’s not about hurting anybody out here. So many times people forget when a guy has an injury, you live with that every day, every second of every day. It’s not just about this game. If his eye is messed up, he’s got to live that every day. Just want to check on the guy.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.