Chris Paul returned to the Houston Rockets lineup after a 16-game absence with a hamstring injury, playing 25 minutes against the Orlando Magic during Sunday’s 103-98 win.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni plans to bump up his minutes back to his usual 30s, but expects Paul to still play in the mid-20s on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
The team has not lost much steam since Paul first suffered the injury, riding the broad shoulder of MVP candidate James Harden and his vicious scoring pace without his vital cogs in the lineup.
Paul was one of two awaited returns, as Clint Capela is still out with a thumb injury that could see him miss another three-to-four weeks.
In his place, Kenneth Faried has filled in admirably in three games after being signed after a buyout, giving the Rockets that injection of motor and intensity on the glass that they had so badly missed without their starting center.
Paul will eventually adhere at playing next to Harden with heavy minutes over the next few games, but it could take until after the All-Star break for him to regain his full form after missing more than a month with a similar injury to the one that ended his postseason a game away from the NBA Finals.
D’Antoni would be smart to ensure the 33-year-old has an injury-free next couple of weeks before giving his body a well-deserved rest for the February festivities, before linking back up with his teammates to finish out the 2018-19 season.