• Brian L. Barefield

Prodigal Son James Harden returns to Houston for the first time since being trade.

Photo Credit/Brooklyn Nets

If you are or have been a regular parishioner at any church in your city you have heard the story in the Bible about the prodigal son. It’s a parable based on redemptive mercy, love, grace, and forgiveness. The premise of the story is based on a father excepting one of his son’s back home even though he left on bad terms.

On Wednesday, former Houston Rockets player James Harden will play the role of the prodigal son as he returns to the Toyota center as the starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets. It will be a site very unfamiliar to fans who have watched him go up and down the court in a Rockets uniform for the past eight-plus seasons. The former MVP was traded to the Nets back in mid-January after what some considered as a half-hearted effort on the court to open the season.

Harden, 31, is eager to get back to the place he calls home just to show his love and affection for the fans who still supports him even though he is no longer in a Rockets uniform.

“Yeah, I'm excited just to go back to Houston where I basically had an unbelievable career there and (the fans) showed me mad love and respect, and I'm just excited to be playing in front of those fans," said the three-time scoring champion and eight-time All-Star. "Yeah, I'm pretty excited.

“Obviously we came up short of a championship or even the Finals, but just the work that I put in, hopefully, those fans appreciate everything that I've done on the court and off the court and I'm still continuing to do off the court. Because once there's a place that I call home, it's always home.”

Harden’s new team proposes a huge threat to a Rockets team who is on a 12-game losing streak and having a hard time keeping available bodies. Houston comes in the game without their superstar center Christian Wood (ankle) and they are without key reserves Eric Gordon (knee) and Danuel House Jr. (knee). Yet the biggest blow was dealt to coach Silas on Wednesday when he was given the news that forward David Nwaba, who had been playing great as of late off the bench, will be unavailable for up to six weeks due to surgery on his right wrist that was injured on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzles.

As tough as this game is going to be for Houston playing against arguably the hottest team in the league who has compiled a 9-1 record in the last 10 games, they are also facing a rejuvenated Harden who is averaging 25.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and a league leading 11.0 assists per game.

“He is really hard to prepare for,” Silas said in his pregame press conference. “He is so versatile and is a great scorer. One of the things that makes him so great is his passing ability, which makes him hard to guard.”

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