D'Antoni expects Paul's return when Rockets play Magic

NBA.com Global on Jan 26, 2019 05:36 AM
D'Antoni expects Paul's return when Rockets play Magic
FILE - BROOKLYN, NY - FEBRUARY 6: Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Brooklyn Nets on February 6, 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

The Houston Rockets will have to wait at least one more game to get their top point guard back.

On Thursday (Friday, PHL time), guard Chris Paul was listed as questionable for today's game against the Toronto Raptors. However, he will not be suiting up tonight. It's not all bad news for Houston fans, though, as coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters during today's shootaround that he expects Paul will play Sunday (Monday, PHL time) when the Rockets host the Orlando Magic.

"It looks like Sunday, not tonight, probably," D'Antoni told reporters Friday (Saturday, PHL time). "I think he's ready to go, we're just being extra careful and Sunday seems to be a good day.

"If it was a playoff game tonight, he might go. But, why not be extra careful and get him back Sunday. ... The biggest boost is he can take minutes off people. When you put a Hall of Fame point guard back in your lineup, it's going to help."

Paul, who has been out since late December with a left hamstring injury. He was injured in the second quarter of a Dec. 20 (Dec. 21, PHL time) to the Miami Heat. At the time, the Rockets were 0-5 without Paul in 2018-19 and had dropped nine straight when he didn't play dating back to last season.

However, since his absence began Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time), Houston has gone 11-5. Much of that success is due to Harden, who has scored 30 or more points in 21 straight games, including a 61-point effort against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden last night.

Including playoffs, the Rockets are 77-22 when Paul plays. An injury to his other hamstring kept him out of the last two games of the Western Conference finals last season.

Paul missed two games early this season because of a suspension for his role in a fight with the Lakers and sat out three games in November with a sore hamstring.

He is averaging 15.6 points, 8.0 assists and 2.1 steals this season. The Rockets are 27-20 and No. 5 in the Western Conference.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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