Nets’ Steve Nash ‘hopeful’ James Harden will play vs. Suns

PHOENIX – The Nets have two days in Phoenix before taking on the blazing-hot Suns, hoping that’s enough time to get James Harden back on the field.

But they have no guarantees that the star will be back from his sprained, non-shooting right hand before Tuesday’s game, or even any updates on his progress.

“I do not do [have an update]’ said Coach Steve Nash. “We’ll have to see how it turns out. But we are hopeful.”

In the depleted state of the Nets, hope will have to survive. Kevin Durant (MCL) and Joe Harris (ankle) are both expected to be out in next month’s All-Star break, while Harden has missed the last two games – including Wednesday’s loss to Denver with a hamstring injury and a charge minute scratch on Golden State on Saturday with his balky hand.

James Harden

To sustain further injury, LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his left ankle on Saturday in the fourth quarter and did not return. He was on crutches after the game.

The Veterans Center played well against Golden State, with the Nets – who played without two of their Big 3 – often running their attack through him into the low post when Kyrie Irving was in.

Aldridge had nine points, two blocks and finished a plus-seven in 15 minutes before checking out with 9:53 to play.

Net’s head coach Steve Nash and Lamarcus Aldridge chat after a play.
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“I have no idea, except he pinched his ankle,” Nash said. “But I’m not sure how bad it is.”

Nic Claxton started and had nine points and eight rebounds, but was minus 21. Blake Griffin was a team-high plus-13 off the bench in 16 minutes. Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe didn’t play (coach’s decision), but could face several minutes in line if Aldridge can’t take on the Suns. Phoenix center Deandre Ayton is out with an ankle injury, but he was listed as doubtful against Spurs on Sunday, so he is nearing a return.

James Johnson played through a minor injury after knocking knees with Otto Porter Jr. Johnson closed the game, finishing with 14 points in 26 minutes and declaring himself fit to go against Phoenix on Tuesday.

‘I’m fine. It was the knee. Me and Porter bumped their knees, you know, sharp knees. You know what it’s like,” Johnson said.

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