NBA All-Star Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers holds up the MVP trophy after the 2013 NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston

Chris Paul hopes to return from injury in time to play in All-Star game

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Chris Paul is still out of action for the Clippers with a shoulder injury, but the initial timetable for his return would have him back some time near All-Star weekend, which will take place Feb. 14-16 in New Orleans.

As Paul continues the recovery process, he told reporters he would love to play in the midseason exhibition if at all possible.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

“If I can play, I’m going to play, I love to play that much,” Paul said Wednesday. “The All-Star Game is in New Orleans and that’s part of me. That’s where I played my very first All-Star Game at. Anytime you have that opportunity, I’m not going to pass that up because it’s not guaranteed to happen next year.” …

The All-Star Game starters will be announced on Thursday, while the reserves will be announced on Jan. 30. Either way, Paul said he will be at the game after playing his first six seasons in the league with the New Orleans Hornets.

“Oh yeah, no question, I’ll be there,” Paul said. “I’ll definitely be there.”

There’s a small complication here where Paul’s injury meets the All-Star selection process.

The starters are voted upon by the fans, and while Paul was initially among the leaders to get in as a starter for the Western Conference at the guard position, the injury has helped propel Stephen Curry into that slot in the latest voting returns.

For Paul to be selected as a reserve, the coaches would need to vote him in. There’s no question he’s deserving, but it may be a bit tricky if they think he’ll still be sidelined and would prefer instead to give his roster spot to another player more deserving.

The safe way for the coaches to go would be to add Paul to the roster, and then simply designate an injury replacement if he’s unable to participate. Paul was the game’s MVP a season ago, and was playing at an elite level this year before suffering the injury; obviously, he should make the team in some capacity.

Nothing is guaranteed, however, so it will remain something to watch.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.