After missing the last 14 games with a bruised left knee, Rockets guard Chris Paul is expected to return to the lineup in Phoenix Thursday night.
Paul struggled in 33 minutes on the floor during the Rockets season opening win against the Golden State Warriors, but has not played since, and while the Rockets list Paul as questionable for Thursday night’s game, head coach Mike D’Antoni said Wednesday that he expects Paul to start and play about 20 minutes.
“I think he’s playing (Thursday),” D’Antoni said.
After Tuesday’s loss to Toronto, the Rockets are 10-4 without the nine-time all star, but D’Antoni admits he and his team will have to adjust to having Paul back.
“When you put that big of a rock into a pond there’s big waves, and we’ve got to figure out, one, give him a chance to get into game shape and playing well, two, everybody’s rotation is a little bit different, so we have to endure the next two or three games and try to smooth it out as we go along.”
The return of Paul will allow last season’s NBA sixth man of the Year, Eric Gordon, to move back to the bench, and it will also give the Rockets another ball handler, taking some of the load off James Harden.
After Thursday’s game in Phoenix, the Rockets head to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies Saturday, and if all goes well, Paul will make his Rockets home debut November 22 against the Denver Nuggets.