While the Nets held off the Bucks 115-107 to take a 1-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal, James Harden was forced to leave the game when the score was 2-0 in favor of the Bucks.
So Harden barely even worked up a sweat before leaving for good after reaggravating a hamstring injury. He departed the Barclays Center shortly after to get an MRI.
“It sucks, because I want him to be out there,” said fellow star Kevin Durant, via Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “I know how much he cares. I know how much he wants to be in this moment. It sucks. Wish him a speedy recovery. … It’s just a bad break.”
Harden averaged 27.8 points, 10.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds in five games of the first round vs. the Celtics. With Durant, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and the rest, the Nets still have plenty of reasons to believe. But missing Harden undoubtedly makes things tougher.
“This guy was so ready and excited to play (Saturday), and you know the preparation he puts in, you know how much he cares about the game, how much he cares about his team, so you never want to see that,” coach Steve Nash told reporters.
More from Brooklyn
- Harden was replaced by Mike James, who received only limited minutes in the first round. But James delivered with 12 points and seven rebounds, filling in admirably next to the Nets’ biggest names.
- “Someone goes down, and the next man is up,” Nash said of James. “Mike, who would have thought before the game he was going to play 30 minutes? Scored the ball, rebounded, made a few plays and hustled. It’s just great to see guys who haven’t been in the rotation get an opportunity to step up and play well.”
- Durant (29 points, 10 rebounds) and Irving (25 points) stood out as usual minus Harden, and Griffin (18 points, 14 boards) looked like the Griffin of old in compiling a double-double.
- It’s been quite a change for Griffin, who went from being injured a lot with the Pistons, to a contract buyout, to playing alongside three superstars on a championship contender. “For two years, I didn’t hear much positivity, and probably rightfully so,” Griffin told reporters. “But it’s pretty crazy how quickly it happens. I’m just thankful for this chance.”