The Atlanta Hawks surely wouldn't mind if he sat out again.
The Rockets try to stay hot against a Hawks team that has had an especially rough go in Houston over the years.
Coach Kevin McHale's team has won five of six, including back-to-back victories with Harden out due to a sore left foot.
In Monday's 93-86 win at Memphis, Chandler Parsons was one of five players to score in double figures, posting 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Omri Casspi added 16 off the bench as the Rockets (10-5) outscored the Grizzlies 38-23 in the fourth quarter.
"We're having fun and playing loose," said Parsons, whose team is averaging an NBA-leading 108.7 points. "We don't care about stats. We're just trying to play for each other, and get the best possible shot. Whoever's hot, we're going to keep going to that guy. Like we've seen, it can be a different guy every single night. We just have to keep doing that."
Houston has had a different leading scorer in each of the last four games.
"When we move the ball and share the ball together, we are tough," Casspi said.
The Rockets now return home, where they have shot 50.6 percent in winning four straight by an average of 13.0 points.
That doesn't bode well for Atlanta (8-7), which has dropped 19 of 21 in Houston since 1992-93. The Hawks have also lost five straight in the series overall while giving up an average of 110.6 points.
Harden gave Atlanta fits in two matchups last season, posting 36.5 points per contest on 58.3 percent from the floor. He is averaging 24.2 points to rank among the NBA leaders.
The Hawks are coming off consecutive losses for the first time, falling 94-87 to Boston on Saturday and 109-92 to last-place Orlando on Tuesday. Atlanta shot a combined 22.5 percent in the fourth quarter in those defeats, including a 4-of-17 display against the Magic.
"I was coming up short every time," point guard Jeff Teague said after posting 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting. "It's just how it fell for me tonight. No excuse."
Atlanta dropped to 1-5 when Teague, who leads the team with 17.8 points per game, scores 15 or fewer. He is averaging 6.7 in seven games against the Rockets.
Kyle Korver shot 1 of 6 but extended his streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer to 88, one shy of Dana Barros' all-time record. Korver has gone 4 of 18 from beyond the arc while averaging 6.0 points in his last four matchups with Houston.
While Dwight Howard was at one point considering joining his hometown Hawks over the summer, he appears to have settled in nicely with Houston. The All-Star center is averaging 17.7 points and ranks second in the NBA with 13.2 boards per contest.
Howard is averaging 17.8 and 16.1, respectively, over a 10-game stretch against Atlanta.
The Hawks could also have their hands full with Terrence Jones, who has given the Rockets a huge lift since joining the starting lineup. The second-year forward has compiled 17.0 points on 62.5 percent shooting in the last five games.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Rockets
- Atlanta Hawks
- James Harden