Harden game-time decision vs. Cavaliers

Harden game-time decision vs. Cavaliers
February 1, 2014, 1:00 pm
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(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

When teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers have visited Toyota Center this season, the Rockets have fared very well.

What do I mean by teams like the Cavaliers? That means teams from the Eastern Conference. Cleveland is the 10th East team to make its lone visit to Houston and the Rockets are looking to remain undefeated in those games; they're 9-0. It could also mean teams with a losing record. Among teams currently below .500, the Rockets have won 11 of 13 games against them in Houston.

The Rockets are also coming off back-to-back wins on back-to-back nights against San Antonio and Dallas, both games played without leading scorer James Harden (bruised left thumb). Harden went through a full practice on Friday and participated in the morning shoot-around before Saturday night's game against Cleveland, but he still maintained he would be a game-time decision.

"It's frustrating, you can't get into a rhythm. It's the ankle, then the other foot, then the hand, the thumb," Harden said. "I'll pull through it."

He said his thumb felt a little bit better than he thought it would after going through Friday's practice, saying he could shoot a little bit better. He also noted, somewhat obviously, the thumb affects "catching, shooting, dribbling, that's everything."

Houston is 6-2 in the games he's missed this season.

It will be a reunion of sorts for Rockets reserve Omri Casspi, who spent his last two seasons in Cleveland. He will be facing the Cavaliers for the first time.

"I try not to think about it too much, just focus on what I need to do to help my team win," Casspi said. "Once we go out there, we're there to win the basketball game. I have to help my team do whatever I can do to help my team win."

He had high praise for Cavaliers all-star point guard Kyrie Irving.

"He's elite. Being around him for two years and seeing him come from being a rookie to now, he's made it a long way. He's such a winner. I know the situation in Cleveland, they've been losing, and he's taken it upon himself to be a leader to that team. He's a natural leader, he's extremely young, but he's obviously a phenomenal talent."

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