Fortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, they didn’t need a strong game from James Harden in order to take Game 5 from the Milwaukee Bucks, which they won 114-108 thanks by a monster effort by Kevin Durant.
Harden, who was battling injury to play in the game, finished with just 5 points as the Nets took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven-series.
“[I] woke up and was like, ‘You know what? Let’s go,'” Harden said, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps. “I tried to go out there and do the best I can. Hopefully I gave my teammates some encouragement, some life.”
“I mean, it just shows how much he loves to play,” Durant, who scored 49 points in the win, said of Harden. “I was a little nervous for him because he hasn’t played in a while and that’s a physical team and his hamstring is one of those injuries that takes a while to heal. But he came out there and toughed it out, had eight assists and six rebounds.
“He missed some good looks all night. I know his legs are going to get back under him as time [goes] the next few days or so. Hopefully, next game he’ll start to knock some of those shots he usually makes down.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us in Game 6, man. It’s going to be our toughest game of the year.”
“I didn’t expect to play, so 46 is a lot,” Harden said. “But I’m good for it. Just get some rest, and get my proper treatment. Credit to our trainers and things like that, they’ve been doing an unbelievable job of preparing me, so get some rest and give it another shot in Game 6, and try to come up with the same results.”
“I feel great,” Harden said. “We won. So that’s all that matters. At this point it’s, by any means necessary. As long as there’s a ‘W’ in that column and we keep racking up wins, that’s all that matters.
“It’s a great team win for us. We haven’t really been together the entire year we’ve dealt with so many injuries or what not that we haven’t had an opportunity or been through adversity. So we know that there was gonna be times in the postseason where we hit adversity where things feel like they’re up against us and they can’t be done. In reality they can be done. We just gotta find ways to get them done.
“It feels like just when things are going well something hits us. My approach to the guys is keep fighting. It’s going to be great on the other side and we did that tonight. So, proud of the guys.”