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Houston Rockets’ James Harden to play against Clippers but Russell Westbrook expected to sit

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Russell Westbrook, who joined the Houston Rockets this summer, talks to reporters at the team’s practice at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu today.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Russell Westbrook, who joined the Houston Rockets this summer, talks to reporters at the team’s practice at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu today.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                James Harden clowns around with a hook shot during the Houston Rockets’ practice at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu today.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    James Harden clowns around with a hook shot during the Houston Rockets’ practice at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu today.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Russell Westbrook, who joined the Houston Rockets this summer, talks to reporters at the team’s practice at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu today.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Russell Westbrook, who joined the Houston Rockets this summer, talks to reporters at the team’s practice at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Houston Rockets’ James Harden dribbled between Los Angeles Clippers’ Wilson Chandler, left, and Jerome Robinson during the second half of a game, April 3, in Los Angeles. Harden is expected to play “probably 25” of a possible 48 minutes in Thursday night’s preseason exhibition against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Stan Sheriff Center, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said today.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Houston Rockets’ James Harden dribbled between Los Angeles Clippers’ Wilson Chandler, left, and Jerome Robinson during the second half of a game, April 3, in Los Angeles. Harden is expected to play “probably 25” of a possible 48 minutes in Thursday night’s preseason exhibition against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Stan Sheriff Center, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said today.

Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is expected to play “probably 25” of a possible 48 minutes in Thursday night’s preseason exhibition against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Stan Sheriff Center, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said today.

D’Antoni, Harden, newly acquired superstar Russell Westbrook and guard Eric Gordon spoke to the media at ‘Iolani School’s gym before a practice.

While Westbrook is expected to sit for the Rockets’ second straight preseason game — and Clippers superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are out as well — Harden should be quite active coming off a triple-double performance in the team’s 140-71 win over the Shanghai Sharks in Houston on Monday.

“He loves to play,” D’Antoni said of the 2018 NBA MVP Harden. “So I’ll have to try to keep him to 25, 30 minutes. But he’ll play. He’ll be there, for sure.”

The bushy-bearded Harden, who led the league with 36.1 points per game last season, expressed enthusiasm about seeing action in the exhibition Thursday night. That game sold out within hours of going on sale this summer.

“The people are so welcoming. I’m excited for them to get an opportunity to see NBA basketball,” Harden said.

“They’re excited,” he added of the quick sellout. “To get out of our comfort zone and get away from just the States and go out, whether it’s here in Hawaii or different countries. So they get an opportunity to see NBA basketball, because they don’t have that luxury so often. I’m excited and we’re going to give the fans a show.”

Of Thursday’s game and how it came to be, D’Antoni said, “Well actually, we forced the issue. We wanted to come here. We have our games in Japan next week, so we thought this would be perfect to have the game here. Luckily we got the Clippers to be able to work it out.”

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