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Flu forces James Harden to miss first game of season

An ailing left wrist and a 4.5-game cushion in the Western Conference standings weren't enough to sideline Houston Rockets star James Harden, but the flu bug was.

Harden missed the Rockets' 123-116 win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night in Phoenix because of the illness. It was the first game Harden sat out this season.

Harden also missed the team's Sunday shootaround because of the sickness.

A leading contender for league MVP, Harden said recently that he thinks, in the current era of player rest, MVP candidates should be commended for being on the court every day. Harden, who had played in all 76 of the Rockets' games leading up to Sunday, has never played fewer than 73 in any 82-game season during his eight-year career.

Harden has been playing through what has been called a jammed left wrist, leading some to question whether he should sit out to rest up for the playoffs.

One game missed due to the flu shouldn't affect Harden's MVP candidacy as he leads the league in assists per game (11.2), is tied for second in scoring (29.2 points per game) and is second among guards with 8.1 rebounds per game.

In addition to Harden, Houston was also without Trevor Ariza, who is dealing with a death in the family.

The Rockets (52-25) are third in the Western Conference and snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday's win. Houston next plays Wednesday night at home against the Denver. Nuggets

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