OAKLAND, Calif. – James Harden’s eyes were still red and stinging well after the final buzzer.
He could barely see on the court let alone read the box score after the game.
The reigning MVP hopes he will feel better with a few days off before the Rockets’ Western Conference semifinal series against Golden State resumes Saturday in Houston with his team trailing 2-0 following a 115-109 loss Tuesday night in Game 2.
Harden scored 29 points on 9-for-19 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four assists and six turnovers. Eye drops he received only helped so much to relieve the discomfort.
He injured his eyes with 6:39 left in the first quarter, grabbing at his face after he and Green fought for a loose rebound and Green’s left hand got Harden in the face.
“I can barely see. Just tried to go out there and do what I can to help my teammates,” Harden said. “It’s pretty blurry right now. Hopefully it gets better day by day.”
When Harden went to the locker room with 6:27 remaining and a towel over his left eye for a cut, Green patted him on the back and checked to make sure he was OK. Harden returned at the 7:09 mark of the second.
“We were fighting for a rebound. I made a mistake and hit him in his eye,” Green said. “It’s not about hurting anybody out here. So many times people forget, when a guy has an injury, you live with that every day, every second of every day. It’s not just about this game. If his eye is messed up, he’s got to live that every day. Just want to check on the guy. At the end of the day it’s bigger than basketball when it comes to injuries.”
Harden scored seven straight Houston points during one stretch midway through the fourth, including a 3 at 7:25 that got the Rockets within 92-89. Stephen Curry then connected for a key 3 at the 6:31 mark.
As good as he still was, Harden didn’t seem completely comfortable.
“He fought through some stuff. The guy looked like he was not in great shape the first half, I think it might have cleared up a little bit,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But he got raked pretty good in the eyes. But that’s him. I didn’t have a doubt he was coming back unless it was something catastrophic. I’m sure he would have loved to have played better. Under the circumstances, I thought he played great.”
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