Chris Paul to make his return for Clippers Sunday vs. Sixers

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Chris Paul suffered a shoulder injury back on Jan. 3 that has kept him sidelined ever since, but you wouldn’t know it the way the rest of the team has responded in his absence.

The Clippers have put together a 12-6 record with Paul out, and heading into Friday night’s contest against the Raptors (which they won), the offense has averaged 111.7 points per 100 possessions, the best in the NBA during that span.

Things should only get better with Paul back in the lineup, which will begin on Sunday at home against the Sixers.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who has been out since Jan. 3 with a separated right shoulder, will make his return Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

After Paul went through his first practice with the team since his injury, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, “He looked great. We plan on playing him.” …

“I think it’s going to take Chris some time to get his rhythm back,” Rivers said before practice. “That’s why I am hoping he is healthy and we can play him Sunday, have a practice on Tuesday and play him Wednesday. I think that helps. I think it’s going to take a couple weeks for him to get his rhythm back, no doubt.”

Paul had previously targeted a return in advance of next weekend’s All-Star game, and now it appears as though he will be able to participate. He took home the midseason exhibition’s MVP honors for his performance in Houston last season.

Rivers isn’t worried about his star point guard participating so soon after returning from injury, and in fact, he supports the idea 100 percent.

“I like him playing in the All-Star Game, personally,” Rivers said, via the same ESPN report. “I think this is a rare case where he’s ready to play and the All-Star Game is probably the safest venue for him to play. I think it will just be a good thing for him to get up and down. It allows him to go up and down in an NBA game with really good players that don’t play defense in the game so I think that would be very good.”

Paul is averaging 19.6 points and 11.2 assists in 34.6 minutes per game for the Clippers this season.

PBT Extra: Fan votes from twitter on MVP, other awards

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We reached the middle of the NBA season, which is a good time to consider where things stand for the end-of-season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We have made our picks and even broken them down in a podcast.

Now it was time to ask you who you thought should win awards.

I put it out there on Twitter in some polls, and I cover your responses in this PBT Extra. I’m with you on Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year, although I think it’s close. Did you choose LeBron James or James Harden for MVP? Watch and find out.

Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier ejected for altercation, leading to hilarious Dwight Howard free throws (video)

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Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.

It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.

One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.

The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.

He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.

Kent Bazemore hits game-winner to lift Hawks over Pelicans (video)

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Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.

This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.

Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.

Jalen Rose calls Paul Pierce petty to his face (video)

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Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.

And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.

When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.

But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?

It’s way too far.

Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.

Rose on ESPN:

I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.

On Paul Pierce’s part.

I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.

The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!