Atlantic Notes: Harden, Knicks, Jordan, Burks, Birch

Nets superstar James Harden still isn’t close to returning from a hamstring injury that has forced him to miss 11 straight games, Brian Lewis writes for the New York Post. Harden has taken minor steps in his recovery, but hasn’t done any high-intensity work.

“He’s here with us traveling,” coach Steve Nash said of Harden. “He was shooting (Tuesday) morning and just starting to build up what his capacity is. He’s not doing any high-intensity stuff, but he’s shooting and doing all his strength and rehabilitation work.

“So positive signs there, but still, I think, a ways to go.”

Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season, Brooklyn currently holds the best record in the Eastern Conference at 42-20. The team will be seeking its fourth straight win in a road game against the Pacers on Thursday night.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division today:

  • Anthony Olivieri of details the Knicks‘ secret pursuit of Bulls legend Michael Jordan during his playing days. Jordan ultimately bypassed joining New York, spending 13 seasons with Chicago and two seasons with Washington.
  • Knicks guard Alec Burks has rejoined the team after a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the club announced on social media. Burks has averaged 12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds in 44 contests (25.8 MPG) this season, but has missed the team’s last six games.
  • Raptors center Khem Birch has fit in well with his new club in limited time, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. Birch most recently finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in a win over the Cavaliers, playing well on both ends of the floor. “He’s been a good factor here,” coach Nick Nurse said postgame. “I thought he was solid, too, defensively. I can remember maybe one double-team he went a little too quick on that they cut back door on us, but other than that, he was pretty mistake-free down there, too. So good game for him. He’s stringing ’em (together), playing well.”
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