HOUSTON – James Harden squinted under the bright lights of the Toyota Center court on Thursday and parts of both eyes remained a garish, bloody red.
It was clear Houston’s superstar was still dealing with injuries to his eyes after being hit by Golden State’s Draymond Green in Game 2. Harden insisted the problem wouldn’t keep him out of Game 3 on Saturday as the Rockets try to climb out of an 0-2 hole against the two-time defending champions.
“If I played barely seeing last game, what makes you think I’m going to sit out Game 3?” Harden asked defiantly.
Harden was injured midway through the first quarter Tuesday night after a blow from Green as he tried to rebound a shot he missed. He immediately fell to the court where he remained writhing for a bit before he was tended to by Houston’s training staff and taken to the locker room. He returned with about seven minutes left in the second quarter and scored 29 points despite saying that his vision was extremely blurry and that he could see “nothing.”
“When he went out he had zero points and he comes back with not even one eye, one eye was almost shut and the other one was blurry and he gets 29 points,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Not many people would have played. So whatever happens, that’s pretty special.”
Harden practiced with the team Thursday as the Rockets prepare to host Golden State for two games.
Though both eyes are injured, the left one is far worse than the right with the entire left side of the eye remaining bloody. The right eye was bloody, too, but it was a much smaller section in the left corner of that eye.
“It’s still there,” he said. “It’s still tough, especially in bright lights but I can see y’all a little bit better so that’s all that matters.”
Harden said he visited a doctor Wednesday and “he gave me some stuff to calm it down to make it better.” He said he didn’t know the exact diagnosis of his injury, but the team called it contusions to both eyes. He added that the doctor told him that he’d be “good,” but that it will take a few days to heal.
“That was a freak injury. I feel bad for James,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after practice Thursday before his team left for Houston. “And obviously Draymond did, too, and went over and apologized. But that’s just one of those plays that happens, so I’m glad that James is OK. Everything seems to be fine.”
Last year’s MVP said he’s dealt with a variety of injuries, but that this one has been the most difficult.
“It’s different,” Harden said. “Like an ankle injury, I’ve rolled my ankle 100 times or whatnot and you kind of know how to deal with that. When you’ve got blurry vision and you can’t see it’s really difficult. But still no excuses.”
Harden and D’Antoni scoffed at the notion that he would wear goggles or protective eyewear of any kind Saturday. D’Antoni even went so far as to make a joke about if he’d need something like that to play.
“Maybe one patch over an eye,” he said, snickering. “It’s going to be the pirate look.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, California, contributed to this report.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.