Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said he expects point guard Chris Paul to return to Houston's lineup on Sunday after a five-week absence. Paul has been out since Dec. 22 as he nurses a hamstring injury. The nine-time All-Star is listed as questionable for Friday's game against the Raptors but is unlikely to play, according to D'Antoni.
"If it was a playoff game tonight, [Paul] might go. But, why not be extra careful and get him back Sunday," D'Antoni told reporters on Friday. "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 is averaging a career-worst 15.6 points per game in 2018-19. He is shooting 41.5% from the field – also the worst mark of his career – and 35.3% from three. Houston went 16–10 with Paul in the lineup prior to his injury.
The Rockets have succeeded in Paul's absence. Houston is 11–5 without its star point guard, now fifth in the West at 27–20.
Houston's recent hot streak can largely be attributed to James Harden's scoring tear over the last two weeks. The 2017-18 MVP is averaging 45.3 points per game in January, including a 61-point effort against the Knicks on Wednesday.
The Rockets will host Toronto on Friday night. Tip-off from the Toyota Center in Houston is slated for 8 p.m. ET.