Rockets news: James Harden doubtful against Nets and more

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

James Harden of the Houston Rockets is expected to miss his third consecutive game tonight against Brooklyn due to a hamstring injury.

The good news is that James Ennis is expected to suit up for the Rockets on Friday night after missing the last two games. The bad news is that James Harden is doubtful to return on Friday and is more likely to play Saturday against the Bulls.

The Rockets have struggled to find their rhythm all season, but they have looked really bad in the last two games without Harden, losing by 20 and 19 points.

The Rockets need their MVP back, but they don’t want to rush his return. Harden missed seven games last season due to a Grade-2 hamstring strain. Strained hamstrings can keep players out for weeks, as we saw Chris Paul have bad luck with his hamstrings last season.

Mike D’Antoni told ESPN’s Ian Begley on Thursday that Harden wants to play against Brooklyn, but they’re going to hold him out.

“James is never limited. He wants to play. I have to hold him out, even tomorrow, which I think we are, he doesn’t like it. He wants to play.”

The Rockets need to get back on track and win both games in this back-to-back, or else things could get ugly. After facing Brooklyn and Chicago, Houston’s schedule gets a lot more difficult with matchups against the Pacers, Thunder, Spurs, Pacers, Nuggets, and Warriors. That’s six consecutive games against potential playoff teams and Houston’s 1-5 start could look a lot worse if they don’t start to regain their mojo now.

Getting Ennis back, which will likely send Carmelo Anthony back to the bench, should boost Houston’s defense. Last week, Mike D’Antoni hinted that the Rockets could lean away from switching everything. He soon reversed course, saying that Houston’s poor communication was hurting the defense more than the switching.

More Rockets news

James Ennis III returns, hoping to use what he saw to bolster Rockets’ defense (Houston Chronicle – Jonathan Feigen)

“Switching, not switching, it’s mainly about communication,” Ennis said. “Watching and seeing the mistakes helps. The mistakes are mainly from communication, not talking, not switching up hard, being physical on switches.”

Could Jimmy Butler, or Even Kevin Love, Be the Rockets’ Slump-Buster? (The Ringer – Paolo Uggetti)

“If the Rockets don’t get Butler, the next step may be one that we saw another team take just last season: the midseason overhaul. LeBron James’s 2017-18 Cavaliers team pulled off this move when they traded away Isaiah Thomas for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., and added George Hill in a separate deal. Houston’s stars aren’t going anywhere, but the cast of role players surrounding them must be upgraded. And what do you know? The Cavaliers are now the team that looks ready to sell off veteran players.”

Rockets’ Carmelo Anthony happy to be back in New York (Houston Chronicle – Jonathan Feigen)

“Last couple years was a little tough as far as losing and what I had to deal with, but other than that I had a hell of a experience in New York. That energy with the fans, the team and the players that came through there. The last couple of years, it is what it is. But, overall it was great.”

Why Rockets declined fourth-year option on Marquese Chriss (Rockets Wire – Eric Griffith)

“The move likely symbolizes a wavering belief in Chriss’ long term potential, as well as a reminder that Houston has a dicey cap situation in the near future.”

Carmelo Anthony on Rockets’ early struggles (Rockets Wire – David MacKay)

“We just got to figure it out, whatever that is. We just got to get a win. Sometimes, once you get that first win, then you start to unravel things and figure them out.”

Next. 3 goals for the month of November

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Rockets news.