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

PHOENIX — The Nets have two days in Phoenix before taking on the white-hot Suns, and hope that will be enough time to get James Harden back on the court.

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

“I do not [have an update],” coach Steve Nash said. “We’ll have to see how it settles. But we’re hopeful.”

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

James Harden

To add injury to more injury, LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter Saturday and didn’t return. He was on crutches following the game.

The veteran center played well against Golden State, with the Nets — playing without two of their Big 3 — often running their attack through him in the low post whenever Kyrie Irving sat.

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

Nets head coach Steve Nash and Lamarcus Aldridge talk after a play in the first half of a gmae against the Warriors at Chase Center on Jan. 29, 2022 in San Francisco.
Nets head coach Steve Nash and Lamarcus Aldridge talk after a play.
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“I don’t have any idea other than he tweaked 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 a minus-21. Blake Griffin was a team-high plus-13 in 16 minutes off the bench. Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe did not play (coach’s decision), but could be in line for some minutes if Aldridge can’t suit up against the Suns. Phoenix center Deandre Ayton has been out with an ankle injury, but he was listed as questionable Sunday against the Spurs, so he is nearing a return.

James Johnson played through a minor injury after knocking knees with Otto Porter Jr. Johnson finished the game, ending up with 14 points in 26 minutes and proclaimed himself fit to go Tuesday against Phoenix.

“I’m well. It was the knee. Me and Porter bumped knees, you know, sharp knees. You know how it is,” Johnson said.

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