If the tension between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets wasn’t thick enough for you, the Warriors think James Harden is faking his eye injury.
Midway through the first quarter of Game 2 Tuesday night, Houston Rockets guard James Harden left the game with an eye injury after being inadvertently hit in the face by Warriors forward Draymond Green. Harden would return in the second quarter, and finish with 29 points, six rebounds and four assists over 34 minutes of action as the Rockets fell into a 0-2 series deficit.
There’s no real question about Harden’s availability for Game 3, as a partial nod to the space between games before Saturday night. But that doesn’t mean the opposing team has ever had any doubt about Harden’s status for Game 3.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, via his postgame video breakdown for Game 2, passed along doubt within Golden State’s locker room about the severity of Harden’s eye issues. (Text courtesy of Warriors Wire).
There are some players in that [Warriors] locker room that are not buying the whole James Harden eye being extremely hurt thing. They were talking about some of the shots he was shooting during the game then when he goes to the free throw line and squinting like he can’t see.
Subsequent visuals of Harden’s eyes on Tuesday night showed signs of a legit issue, if only due to extreme redness. But his reputation as someone who embellishes trails him, fair or not, even if the Warriors collectively aren’t a reliable moral authority, for lack of a better term
Harden was 0-for-3 from the floor with two turnovers before being injured Tuesday night. After returning to the game, he was 9-for-16 from the floor (3-for-7 from 3-point range) and 8-for-9 from the free throw line. So perhaps the Warriors’ skepticism has some merit.
Harden did appear to have vision problems, with a left eye contusion and a cut under the same eyelid, even as he made a shot in the second quarter. But the irony of his performing better when he came back into the game wasn’t lost on ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
If anything, Harden’s eye issues seemed to make him a more efficient player in Game 2. He had all 29 of his points on 16 field goal attempts in essentially 28 minutes of action after he came back. As the Rockets head into a must-win Game 3 at home, more of that efficiency from Harden over an uninterrupted, typical number of minutes will be critical.