According to Houston Chronicle reporter Jonathan Feigen, Harden left Monday night's game with "upper respiratory distress":
Now official. Harden out with upper respiratory distress.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 20, 2012
UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 12:10 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
James Harden will be back in action tonight and ready to continue his productive start the season.
Rockets.com's Jason Friedman reported the following news on Harden's status.
Harden says he's feeling better today, good to go for tonight.— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) November 21, 2012
The new Rocket star is averaging 24.3 points per game this season and his presence will be appreciated against the Chicago Bulls' defense.
---End of Update---
We knew entering the game that Harden was dealing with this issue (via Feigen), but it obviously hasn't gone away.
The Rockets star scored six points in just over 17 minutes of action versus the Jazz before departing. He wasn't playing particularly well, and the "distress" probably goes a long way in explaining why.
Losing Harden for a few games would be painful for the Rockets, as the team has struggled even with Harden's services. He's their only go-to option on offense, and only player they have that's used to winning basketball games.
Discounting Monday night's contest, Harden has averaged 26 points and nearly five assists per game on the year. He's quickly established that he can thrive without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, proving he is much more than just a star reserve. His ability to slash to the basket, find open teammates and knock down outside shots makes him very tough to guard in the open floor.
Kevin McHale and the Rockets still have a long way to go. Jeremy Lin has made strides, as have players like Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons, but this team's future rests on Harden.
Because it's early in the season, it's likely the team will err on the side of caution regarding Harden's return. If there's even a remote concern, expect him to take ample time to build his body back up.
Stay tuned for updates regarding this sick star.