Houston Rockets

Rockets hope to have Chris Paul back Thursday night

After an extended absence with a knee issue, Chris Paul is expected to return the Houston Rockets lineup soon.

One of the biggest moves of the NBA offseason came when the Houston Rockets traded for Chris Paul, and thus paired him with James Harden to form a superstar backcourt duo. But Paul has been out since the season opener with a left knee injury, and he’ll miss his 14th straight game with that injury Tuesday night.

Mid-November seemed like the target for Paul to return, and right on schedule, here we are. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets are hoping to have Paul back Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns.

We don’t want to push it,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters Tuesday. “If not Thursday, then we’ll see about Saturday (in Memphis). He worked out hard (Sunday). We’ll see how he feels Tuesday and Wednesday. (Thursday’s game) is what we’re shooting for.

The Rockets have been just fine without Paul, with a current six-game winning streak pushing their record to a tie for best in the Western Conference at 11-3 entering Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. Harden has, of course, led the charge, sitting second in the league in scoring (30.2 points per game) and first in assists (10.2 per game) while averaging 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as well.

There were immediate questions about how Harden and Paul, two typically ball-dominant players, would co-exist in the same backcourt with the Rockets. But it’s been the Harden show again thus far, with Paul in street clothes since the first game, and D’Antoni has not had to navigate that situation yet.

Paul is not yet certain to play Thursday night, pending more intense workouts over the next couple days. But his return is approaching, and the Harden-Paul experiment can then offer a bigger sample to dissect.

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