HOUSTON — After missing seven straight games with a right adductor strain, forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned to the Nets’ lineup Wednesday night at Toyota Center. Shabazz Napier, who missed Monday’s win over the Celtics with right hamstring tightness, also rejoined the playing rotation, meaning that coach Kenny Atkinson could use more players than the eight he stuck with in the previous game.
Hollis-Jefferson is considered by Atkinson as the Nets’ top defender, so he was expected to see time against leading NBA scorer James Harden although Atkinson said he would be on an unspecified minutes limit. “Rondae will ease in, but he’s obviously going to help us with Harden out there,” Atkinson said. “We can spin him getting some minutes there. Great news for the Nets having him back in.
“Shabazz is back. He’ll play, too. It’s nice to add to our rotation. I didn’t feel great about going with eight. I’m glad we’re getting healthy.”
In other health-related news, Caris LeVert, who suffered a dislocated right ankle on Nov. 12, is back on the court working on his shooting. There is no timetable for his return, but Atkinson said the signs are positive for a player who was leading the Nets in scoring at 18.4 points per game to rejoin the lineup later this season.
“He’s progressing great,” Atkinson said. “If he’s out there shooting around and stuff, he’s progressing well. It’s good news to see him out there.”
Allen Crabbe missed his 17th straight game with a sore right knee. He was expected to be re-evaluated this week, but Atkinson said that hasn’t happened yet and there is no date set for an examination. Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) also remained out.
Gordon returns to Rockets
The Rockets’ Eric Gordon (right knee contusion) returned to the lineup against the Nets, but Chris Paul (left hamstring strain) and Clint Capela (right thumb injury) were out.