Harden caught the shooting guard in the face with his elbow while taking a rebound in the fourth quarter of the Houston Rockets' 108-90 victory at the Staples Center, resulting in a scuffle between the two players which was broken up by their teammates.
The former league MVP told ESPN: "He elbowed me in the face, and I'm gonna let him know, I don't like that. It's that simple.
"It's fantastic, that's the game. That's all part of the game. Elbows are a part of the game. Trash-talking is part of the game. I don't know where the NBA became so sensitive. It's all part of it.
"[Howard is] a teddy bear. You can't help but like him. I really meant that. He's a really nice kid. But you know, when you're competing, you have a goal in mind. I know one way to get there. There's certain times when we didn't see eye to eye, but that wasn't one of those situations."
Bryant, who missed the majority of last season with knee and Achilles injuries, was the team's top scorer in the defeat.