James Harden came into the Rockets matchup against the Lakers questionable. Harden was dealing with a sore foot, but he was eventually cleared for the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Harden drove in for a layup but came up limping at the end of the play. Houston was forced to foul so they could get him off the court.

Harden did not return for overtime due to the injury. Yahoo Sports later reported that Harden had a strained left hamstring and would not return to the game. The severity of the injury or its long-term impacts are uncertain.

Harden has played like an MVP candidate again this season and losing him for any period of time would devastating for Houston. They just got Chris Paul and Clint Capela back from injury. To lose their best player would force a team that has been hampered by injuries the past month to adjust even further.

However, time away from the court might be good for Harden. He has been talking about playing through injury lately and the doubt that he would play in the Lakers game shows he’s not fully healthy. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Houston needs to make sure Harden is fully healthy for the playoffs, and if that means sitting out time in January then so be it.

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