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Game thread: Rockets vs. Magic

James Harden is out, but the Rockets still have two top guards to turn to.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets begin at least a two-week stretch without James Harden, and have what, on paper at least, appears to be a warm-up act before tomorrow night’s main event with the Golden State Warriors.

But with the Rockets already struggling, having lost five games in a row before their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, no one can say with any real certainty how the team is going to look without The Beard, especially offensively, so tonight’s contest is a bit of a wild card.

I could see any number of scenarios occurring, from the Chris Paul-led Rockets stepping up and winning in convincing fashion, to slogging through another overall struggle that could wind up going either way in the end. Let’s hope whatever it is, it results in a Rockets victory.

But it’s wins over the teams you’re supposed to beat that’s going to keep you afloat when making due without a major piece, so it’s important that Houston gets this one over the 12-26 Orlando Magic.

Eric Gordon will start in place of Harden tonight, and these types of situations are why the Rockets went out and got a second superstar in Paul to begin with. Let’s see if he can do what the team brought him in to do.

We should also get a healthy dose of Gerald Green. It would be a great story if the Houston native played a key part in keeping the Rockets winning without The Beard.

Go Rockets!