OAKLAND (California) • Houston star James Harden, who suffered a lacerated left eyelid in the Rockets' National Basketball Association play-off loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, is hoping three days of rest will have him seeing clearly for their next encounter.
"It's pretty blurry right now," said Harden, who was swiped in the face by the Warriors' Draymond Green as they battled for a rebound in the first quarter of Golden State's 115-109 victory.
"Hopefully, it gets better day by day," added the guard, whose Rockets host Game 3 of the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series on Saturday aiming to start digging out of an 0-2 hole.
Harden returned after receiving treatment - including drops to numb pain in his eyes - and led the Rockets with 29 points. But, despite the drops, he could be seen squinting and grimacing in the bright lights.
"He got raked pretty good in the eyes," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "But that's him. I didn't have a doubt he was coming back unless it was something catastrophic."
It certainly looked bad enough as Harden dropped to the court and stayed there - a hand to his eyes - until the Rockets called a timeout so he could get medical treatment.
Green, who had 15 points, spoke to Harden as he departed the court with a compress on his face. The Golden State forward said he just wanted to check on Harden after the inadvertent contact.
"It's not about hurting anyone out here," Green said. "A lot of people forget when a guy has an injury, you live that every second of every day and it's not just about this game.
James Harden matched Kevin Durant in scoring a game-high 29 points for Houston and Golden State respectively, despite leaving the court for nearly 12 minutes over an eye injury.
"If his eye is messed up, he's got to live that every day, so I wanted to check on the guy."
Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 29 points, Klay Thompson had 21 and Stephen Curry contributed 20 as the two-time defending champions never trailed.
Golden State also had an injury scare in the first quarter when Curry left briefly with a dislocated middle finger on his left hand, returning with it taped up before the period ended.
"It hurts, but it's all right. Didn't break anything," the guard said.
In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks bounced back with a vengeance, routing the Boston Celtics 123-102 to tie their Eastern Conference semi-final series at one game apiece.
Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and Khris Middleton connected on seven of 10 from three-point range on his way to 28 points.
"We came out, we played hard, we moved the ball, we trusted one another and that's why we got a win," said Antetokounmpo, whose team lost 112-90 in Game 1.
He added that the Bucks will need to come up with more of the same when the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 tomorrow. "We've just got to pick it up from where we left off," he said.