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Chris Paul will return Thursday night

The Rockets will finally get CP3 back on the court.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

He’s back.

Chris Paul, the key offseason acquisition of the Houston Rockets, is finally expected to return to the lineup after sitting out a month with a bruised knee. Paul last played in the season opener against the Golden State Warriors back on October 17.

Paul finished that game with 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists in helping lead the Rockets to an opening night victory over the defending champs, tantalizing us with what this fully formed Houston roster might look like this season.

After waiting 13 games to see him again — in which James Harden gallantly held down the fort — we couldn’t be more ready for his return. The Rockets really could have used him in last night’s 129-113 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. When The Beard went to the bench with five fouls halfway through the fourth quarter, the Rockets never recovered.

The Rockets appeared to have tired jump shots last night despite not keeping that grueling a travel schedule in the past week, so having a top player back who will eventually suck up about 32 minutes a night is going to be be a key component for helping to keep the team fresh.

The 11-4 Rockets have done quite well without their 32-year-old future-Hall-of-Fame point man, sitting in second place in the Western Conference standings, just a half game behind the Warriors. But a talent injection will be a welcome sight with head coach Mike D’Antoni insisting on keeping a tight rotation.

Houston will most likely work Paul back slowly for now, however, playing him just 20 minutes until his court legs return, though he will start.

I’m sure there will be an adjustment period, but as we said all offseason, these guys are all talented, unselfish, and want to play together, so don’t expect it to take too long for the Rockets to hit their stride.

Welcome back, CP3. You were missed, indeed.