The Oklahoma City Thunder may be a sixth-man down for the next few games. After being knocked out of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers by an elbow to the head, James Harden is now questionable for the rest of the regular season due to a concussion.
The incident occurred with just over a minute left in the first half at the Staples Center, when Harden and Metta World Peace bumped into each other after a MWP dunk. The dunk had been set up by a steal, and a drive from mid-court that resulted in a put down between Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. It was quite the play, magnified by the fact that is was MWP that pulled it off and not Kobe Bryant. But then, World Peace had the hot hand early in the game, leading all scorers with 12 points. He had been active on the boards and on defense. It looked like it was going to be a great game for the 12 year pro.
That was before he chose to transform back into his former self, the idiot known as Ron Artest, and fired an elbow that caught Harden squarely behind his ear, knocking the Thunder guard to the ground.
Harden remained on the ground for several minutes before heading to the locker room. During half time it was reported that he had cleared the preliminary league guidelines for concussion awareness, but he was shut down by the OKC medical staff before he could return to the floor. After the game it was announced that Harden had suffered a concussion. There is no suggest timeline for his return due to tricky nature of concussions. He may be able to return quickly, or could be down for a number of games.
The Thunder went on to take a 17 point lead in the 4th quarter, only to see the Lakers come back and foce the game into two overtimes before taking the lead and sensing OKC home with a loss.
An incident like this is never a good thing, but it comes at a bad time for the Thunder, who have been having a rough April. Harden provides an intangible energy when he enters the game, and is a serious scoring threat that takes some of the pressure off of team leaders, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The team finishes the season with back to back home games against the Sacramento Kings and the Denver Nuggets, and if tonight’s game is any indication, neither will be easy without Harden coming off of the bench.
Jeff Everette is the featured columnist for the Miami Dolphins on Rant Sports. You can follow him on twitter@jeverettesports, or like his facebook page: Jeff Everette- Rant Sports for all of his latest articles.