James Harden ruled out vs. Jazz with neck injury

The Brooklyn Nets will be undermanned in a pivotal Wednesday night game against the Utah Jazz.

The Brooklyn Nets are currently a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers for first-place in the Eastern Conference, and face a tough opponent in the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. The team was already without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin Their chances of winning just got a lot worse.

Hours before the game, the Nets announced that guard James Harden has been ruled out due to neck stiffness. With this news, Brooklyn will be without all of their stars against the Jazz, who are the “Best in the West.”

Nets: Brooklyn without all their stars against league-best Jazz

Harden’s neck soreness occurred during this past Sunday’s game against the Washington Wizards, where he collided with forward Garrison Mathews. Even with the soreness, Harden did play in Tuesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers where he tallied a double-double (25 points, 17 assists) in the 116-112 win. One day later, the pain appeared to be too much for Harden to fight through.

As for the other stars, Durant is still out with his strained left hamstring, Irving is sitting out due to personal reasons and Griffin is undergoing injury management on his left knee.

Harden’s absence will be a huge one for Brooklyn, as he is playing at an MVP-caliber level. Through 38 games this season, Harden is averaging 25.3 points, 11.2 assists (league-high) and 7.9 assists in 38.0 minutes (league-high), all while shooting 46.3-percent from the field and 35.9-percent from the three-point line.

The Nets’ chances of defeating the Jazz took a significant hit with this update. Utah is currently averaging 116.8 points scored per game (third-best in NBA) and allowing just 108.5 points to opponents (fifth-fewest).

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