Houston (SPORTSRADIO 610) – James Harden returned from his seven game absence in a limited role in the Rockets 116-98 victory over the Timberwolves Thursday night. He had been sidelined since suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain against the Lakers on Dec. 31. James had 10 points on just 3-for-15 shooting from the field.

“He struggled. He’s rusty. When you have a leg injury you can’t do anything, so its been three weeks. So, it’s normal,” Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “As he keeps playing he’ll get in shape and get his legs.”

Mike set a 25 minute limit to Harden’s playtime to help refrain from any setbacks. Houston had a (4-3) record during his unavailability. Facing the fourth place team in the Western Conference, followed by the first place Warriors Saturday night is some tough opposition to return to the floor to.

“It’s hard for him to also go in and out. The minutes restriction is tough, but it’s necessary,” D’Antoni said.

For James, his return felt long overdue.

“Felt good to be back on the court… Those seven games felt like an extremely long time,” Harden said. “Other than missing a lot of shots that I normally make.”

Chris Paul also reached a career milestone against Minnesota Thursday night. He reached 13th on the all-time NBA steals list after passing Derek Harper. Paul leads all active players in total assists and steals.

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