James Harden questionable for Nets’ game vs. Wizards

After Kevin Durant was rested for the Nets’ 22-point win in Oklahoma City on Friday, now James Harden is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Washington.

Harden was put on the injury report with a left thigh contusion, after having played marathon minutes since arriving Jan. 16 in a four-team megadeal. He hasn’t missed a game yet for Brooklyn, with the Nets 6-2 since the trade.

The three-time reigning scoring champion has averaged a league-high 38.1 minutes, which would also match his career high from 2015-16. That has risen even higher since coming to Brooklyn, averaging 39.9 for the Nets.

Harden is averaging 24.3 points, an NBA-leading 11.8 assists and 7.8 rebounds since the trade. He has three triple-doubles coming into Sunday’s game against the last-place Wizards.

The Nets haven’t been a defensive-minded club, and have been even less so since trading away rim-protecting center Jarrett Allen. But they’re expecting new free agent signee Norvel Pelle to join them before Sunday’s game in Washington.

James Harden
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The 27-year-old Pelle hasn’t played since last year’s postseason with the Philadelphia 76ers, so it’s unclear how much ground he’ll have to make up physically and conditioning-wise. Still, his addition if nothing else should provide some competition for two-way Reggie Perry.

DeAndre Jordan has been the starting center by default. The Nets have had to use 6-foot-8, 235-pound stretch four Jeff Green as his backup, along with Perry. The latter is a raw second-round pick who has been struggling, but is coming off his first career double-double in the win at Oklahoma City.

“Just a willingness to get better and also just a high level of understanding of himself. Just as a competitor,” Kyrie Irving said of Perry. “Sometimes rookies come in, they can come in very tentative, especially being drafted into a great team like this.

“But he’s easily accepting his role and we want him to continue to learn and to be doing that on the fly as a young man coming straight from college, it’s very impressive. So we just want him to continue to work hard, to continue to learn from us. A few of us here have been some things, and we just want to make sure we leave the game in a better space with Reggie as he gets better in this league.”

The addition of Pelle still leaves the Nets with two open roster spots. One will likely be held to make use of the buyout market, while one has to be filled Saturday. The Nets could promote Perry or Chris Chiozza from two-ways to standard deals, but a free agent signing is more likely.

Nic Claxton is still out with right knee tendinopathy.

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