A surgery–no matter whether it’s on an ACL, a thumb or a bone in the face–takes time to heal from. After the healing, an athlete then has to implement his body back into playing shape and in the same daily routine the player has been in for most of their lives.
A thumb injury is nothing like an ACL tear, so getting back into form wasn’t as difficult as it would be. However, a hand injury to a player who uses both hands for just about everything could have been semi-traumatic. It isn’t at all for a Los Angeles superstar.
Chris Paul looked great and showed little rust in the Clippers’ 99-89 preseason defeat of the Miami Heat in Shanghai. The seven-year NBA point guard had not played full-contact basketball since the London Olympics as he underwent surgery on his thumb in August.
Honestly, it didn’t look like the perennial NBA All-Star missed a step at all. In 22 minutes, he scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists.
He didn’t score points, but on a team loaded with guys capable of putting up big scoring numbers, he didn’t have to. He led the offense by dictating the tempo of play with rushing outlet passes and pushing the team to run the floor in typical Lob City fashion.
He played tough defense on Norris Cole–who finished with 6 points in 25 minutes–and tipped a few passes for teammates to pick up the steals as Paul didn’t record one. Paul even helped out on the boards as his five were tied for fourth best on the team, behind Blake Griffin’s 10, DeAndre Jordan’s 9 and Matt Barnes’ 6.
All in all, the return for Paul was what I thought it would be.
The Clippers beat the Heat to avenge Wednesday’s 94-80 loss in Beijing, the new guys on the team seemed to work well around their court general and Paul performed to his high standard of performance.
Having Paul back obviously makes Clippers’ fans happy and takes the team from average to elite.