-- The Houston Rockets?plan for star guard James Harden to return from a hamstring strain Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, barring any setbacks during Wednesday's practice, league sources told ESPN.
Harden, who has missed the past seven games, is officially listed as questionable for Thursday's home game.
Harden suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring on a driving layup during the fourth quarter of a double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers?on Dec. 31. The team announced the following day that Harden would be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Houston went 4-3 without Harden, an MVP front-runner who leads the NBA in scoring (32.3 points per game) and ranks third in assists (9.1). It is the most significant injury of Harden's nine-year career. He has been remarkably durable, missing a total of only two games in the previous three seasons.
Harden is also awaiting a disciplinary ruling from the NBA office after sources say he was one of four Rockets who entered the Los Angeles Clippers' locker room through a back door after Monday's loss to the Clippers. Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Rockets forward Trevor Ariza was the primary aggressor, with All-Star guards Chris Paul and Harden described as attempting to cool off Ariza inside the Clippers' locker room.