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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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James Harden: "I'm excited." - Rockets 6th Day of practice at NBA Restart
Posted: July 16, 2020 -- 8:56 p.m. CT
Thursday afternoon, James Harden participated in his first Rockets' practice of the 2020 NBA Restart. Harden had some family issues to take care of before he was able to join the team in Orlando.
Ben McLemore said Harden looked like James Harden.
"Same James. It's great to see him," McLemore said. "It's great to have him back.
"Didn't miss a beat at all. Obviously, trying to get back in rhythm. But, just getting up and down the floor, like we did today, like I said - same old James Harden."
Harden commented to the media, "I just had some family issues; but, I'm happy I'm here. It felt really good to be out here with the guys. Getting after it. Just pushing our way. Every single day is going to be a new challenge for us."
Head Coach Mike D'Antoni said of Harden's practice today: "He looked good. He probably was rusty for about 30 seconds; then, he was back to his - he played well today."
D'Antoni added, "Today, to be honest with you, he went through the full practice just like everybody else. His wind was just as good as anybody else's; so, obviously, he's been working anyway. They ramped him up well before he got here; so, I'm really pleased."
D'Antoni doesn't believe Harden will miss any of the three scrimmages.
"I think in scrimmage he'll want to play," D'Antoni commented. "Obviously, if he needs a few less minutes, whatever he needs, we'll do. He knows his body. He knows how to get ready. I know come those 8 (seeding) games; he'll be ready to go."
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Today's 5-on-5 practice was Harden's first contact in about a month.
"I feel like I'm in a good place. Today was actually the first time that I played pick up (basketball): 5-on-5 contact in over a month. Individual and working out and conditioning is totally different. You can do track workouts and all different types of conditioning workouts; but, when you're actually out there and you get bumped and actually make plays and make reads and get up and down the court, it's totally different. So, it felt really good today. I pushed myself through it today; and, like I said, every single day just continue to get better."
Harden believes the Rockets have as good a chance as any of the 22 NBA teams in Orlando to win the championship this season.
"I'm excited. Like I said, once we get Russ back; and, we got our full roster healthy; and, we get in shape like we need to be. We can compete with anybody."
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