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Video: Rockets’ Chris Paul toys with Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins one-one-one

Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins

Chris Paul used to be a blur. The Houston Rockets point guard rose to superstardom in the late 2000s courtesy of his unparalleled blend of speed, burst, skill, and canny. Nearly a decade later, the inevitabilities of age and multiple recurring lower-body injuries have sapped Paul of much of the athleticism that was a hallmark of the first half of his career.

Don’t confuse his relative lack of explosiveness with a complete inability to embarrass opposing big men on the perimeter, though. DeMarcus Cousins learned that the hard way early in Saturday’s game between the Rockets and Warriors at Oracle Arena when Paul used a series of behind-the-back, crossover, and between-the-legs dribbles to gracefully dance his way to the rim for a layup.

Beautiful.

The 33-year-old returned to the court in late January after missing his team’s previous 17 games with a left hamstring strain. The injury is unrelated to a similar one he suffered midway through last year’s Western Conference Finals, a major reason why Golden State was able to overcome a 3-2 deficit against Houston before taking home its third Larry O’Brien trophy in four seasons.

Sans Harden, his star teammate in Paul is tasked with the burden of carrying the Rockets against the defending champion Warriors.