Harden scratched late from Rockets' game with ankle sprain

Sacramento Kings Harrison Barnes gets a hand on Houston Rockets guard James Harden during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday Dec. 31, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Richard Carson)
Sacramento Kings Harrison Barnes gets a hand on Houston Rockets guard James Harden during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday Dec. 31, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Richard Carson)

HOUSTON – Houston star James Harden was scratched from the Rockets' game Saturday game against the Sacramento Kings less than an hour before tipoff because of a sprained right ankle.

Harden was not listed on the injury report and coach Stephen Silas did not mention his injury in his pregame availability. The team announced that he wouldn't play about 38 minutes before the game was scheduled to begin.

He has started each of Houston's games this season and is averaging a league-leading 37 points with 11 assists a game.

The Rockets had to postpone their opener Dec. 23 after coronavirus cases, contract tracing and Harden’s violation of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols left them without the league-mandated eight players available.

Harden's violation of health and safety protocols came after video of the disgruntled star surfaced on social media where he was without a mask at a crowded party in a private event space two days before that game.

The incident came after months of rumors and reports that the eight-time All-Star wants to be traded, but Harden has refused to discuss those reports.

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