As the Brooklyn Nets struggled to find a way to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in each of their past two games, one thing became abundantly clear: They really miss James Harden.
Harden, the 11-time All-Star and 2018 NBA MVP, was forced to miss Brooklyn’s 124-118 loss to the Bucks on Tuesday night due to a right hamstring strain that has now cost him 15 straight games.
Still, Harden has been traveling with the team during its road trips despite his injury. On Tuesday, he managed to stand out during the game thanks to one of his reactions on the bench.
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Harden Not Pleased With DeAndre Jordan
For the umpteenth time this season, Harden appeared to not be thrilled with what he was seeing defensively from Nets center DeAndre Jordan.
About midway through the third quarter, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who Jordan was matched up against on Tuesday, hit yet another 3-pointer. He made four against the Nets on Tuesday after entering averaging just 1.1 on the season.
The YES Network broadcast caught Harden watching the play unfold before putting his head in his hand as his frustration mounted.
James Harden watching DeAndre pic.twitter.com/thFN3GfgLS
— Zion Olojede 🇳🇬 (@ZionOlojede) May 5, 2021
Antetokounmpo had four 3’s against the Nets on Sunday too, marking the first time in his career he had consecutive games with four 3-pointers, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
DeAndre Jordan is jumping on 3s and pump fakes now. And Antetokounmpo is taking advantage. https://t.co/AczjrA1mjJ
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) May 5, 2021
Nets coach Steven Nash said he could live with a lot of the shots GAntetokounmpo took tonight, per Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.
Steve Nash said he can live with a lot of the shots Giannis took tonight. Points out that he wasn’t as efficient tonight despite scoring 30 and adds the Nets’ turnovers and Bucks’ offensive rebounds were a bigger reason why they lost.
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) May 5, 2021
After Sunday’s loss to Milwaukee, Jordan was asked about his experience guarding Antetokounmpo one-on-one:
DeAndre Jordan describes his experience guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo one-on-one: pic.twitter.com/vN355QtjK5
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) May 2, 2021
On one hand, Antetokounmpo is a tough assignment for anyone. On the other, Harden has seen Jordan struggle several times previously this season — and has shown similar reactions.
Earlier this season, in a game against the Detroit Pistons on February 9, Jordan appeared to just give up playing defense in the middle of a play.
During a timeout shortly thereafter, YES Network cameras caught Harden’s frustration with Jordan. Harden, the perennial All-Star whom the Nets acquired via four-team trade on January 14, was seen voicing that frustration by confronting Jordan about his defense during a timeout.
Harden was trying to coach his new team after trailing early vs. Detroit. pic.twitter.com/mSpVQo17oo
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2021
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Still No Timetable on Harden’s Return
Harden will continue to watch the Nets from the bench for the foreseeable future.
Last week, Nash said Harden still isn’t close to a return.
“He’s shooting and doing all his strength and rehabilitation work,” said Nash, via Brian Lewis the New York Daily News. “So positive signs there, but still I think a ways to go.”
The Nets have just six games left in the regular season, meaning a return by Harden before the playoffs is growing increasingly unlikely.
Since the Nets traded for Harden in mid-January, they’re 27-7 with him and 9-10 without him. Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — Brooklyn’s Big Three — have played only seven games together since Harden joined the team.
Before his hamstring strain, Harden was posting MVP-caliber numbers with 25.2 points, 10.9 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game.
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