James Harden returns to Rockets follow after bubble arrival delayed

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — NBA scoring chief James Harden of the Houston Rockets practiced together with his group for the primary time in additional than 4 months Thursday, saying his arrival on the league’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World was delayed by household points.

Harden got here to Disney earlier this week, happy his league-mandated quarantine necessities and acquired cleared to take part.

“I am joyful I am right here,” Harden stated. “It felt really actually, actually good to be out right here with the blokes, getting after it, simply pushing our means. Each single day goes to be a brand new problem for us.”

Harden has been figuring out, however stated Thursday was his first time enjoying precise 5-on-5, contact-laden basketball in additional than a month.

“I pushed myself by way of it in the present day,” Harden stated.

Harden’s arrival means Houston lastly has half of its beginning backcourt at Disney. On Monday, guard Russell Westbrook revealed that he examined constructive for COVID-19.

It isn’t recognized when Westbrook might be able to arrive. However Harden wasted no time in impressing his teammates.

“He seemed good,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni stated. “He in all probability was rusty for about 30 seconds. … An excellent starting.”

Rockets guard Ben McLemore was extra succinct.

“Identical James. … Did not miss a beat,” McLeMore stated.

D’Antoni did not anticipate Harden to do a lot 5-on-5 work initially, figuring he would wish a while to construct up his wind. However Harden arrived absolutely prepared, in D’Antoni’s eyes, exhibiting that no matter routine he was following had paid off.

“James is wise,” D’Antoni stated. “He is aware of his physique. He is aware of what he must do. He’ll come over late at night time if he wants further capturing or if he wants further working, he’ll do it. However he likes to play. He is the final word skilled on what he must do to prepare. So, I belief him completely.”

Harden is a digital cinch to win his third consecutive scoring title. He is averaging 34.four factors, properly forward of second-place Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards. Beal, who is not taking part within the restart due to an damage, completed the season averaging 30.5 factors.

The one means Harden may fall under Beal’s common is that if he performed in all eight of Houston’s remaining video games and scored a complete of 11 factors or fewer. If Harden performed in seven of the eight video games and went utterly scoreless in every, he would nonetheless end forward of Beal.

Harden would turn out to be the seventh participant in NBA historical past to win at the very least three consecutive scoring crowns, becoming a member of George Mikan, Neil Johnston, Wilt Chamberlain, George Gervin, Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant.

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