Chris Paul returns to action from thumb injury in Clippers' loss

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

LA Clippers guardChris Paulmade his return after missing 14 games in the team's 105-97 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

Paul had been out since tearing a ligament in his left thumb Jan. 16. He was medically cleared to play earlier this week.

"The only thing that matters is how we did as a team. I came out unscathed, which is great. It felt great to be back out on the court. Tough loss. But it felt good to get through an entire game," Paul said after the game.

The Clippers have dealt with injuries to Paul and forward Blake Griffin. The team stands fifth in the Western Conference with a 35-23 record.

"We've dealt with so many injuries in the past that everything is somewhat irrelevant until you get the whole crew out there. No matter how we play with Blake out, no matter how we play with me out, we need both of us as well as everyone else in order to see what we really look like."

Paul, playing with tape on the thumb, finished the night with 17 points.

"I try not to [think about the thumb while playing]. That's part of getting back playing," Paul said.

A nine-time All-Star, Paul injured the thumb last month against the Oklahoma City Thunder and had surgery two days later. He was initially expected to miss six to eight weeks while rehabilitating the thumb.

Paul also missed seven games earlier in the season because of a strained left hamstring.

"When you look at the injuries and our record, I think there's not another coach in the league who wouldn't take our record right now," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. "So that's been all good. It'd be nice to have them, but I'm hoping all this will mean something great for us later."

Paul was enjoying another stellar season, averaging 17.5 points and 9.7 assists per game on 61.1 percent true shooting before his injury. He ranks first in real plus-minus at 8.99 and sixth in player efficiency rating at 27.31.

ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz and Andrew Han contributed to this report.