The Houston Rockets expect All-Star guard James Harden to return from a hamstring strain Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, barring any setbacks during Wednesday's practice, coach Mike D'Antoni confirmed.
Harden, who has missed the past seven games, is officially listed as questionable for Thursday's home game. If he does play, he will be limited to 25 minutes per game initially, D'Antoni said.
Harden suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring on a driving layup during the fourth quarter of a double-overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 31. The team announced the following day that Harden would be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Houston has gone 4-3 without Harden, an MVP front-runner who leads the NBA in scoring (32.3 points per game) and ranks third in assists (9.1). It is the most significant injury of Harden's nine-year career. He has otherwise been durable, missing a total of only two games in the previous three seasons.
Harden is also awaiting a disciplinary ruling from the NBA office. Sources say he was one of four Rockets who entered the Los Angeles Clippers' locker room through a back door after Monday's loss. Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Rockets forward Trevor Ariza was the primary aggressor, with All-Star guards Chris Paul and Harden described as attempting to cool off Ariza inside the Clippers' locker room.