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Mike D’Antoni thrilled with Chris Paul’s return from season-ending hamstring injury

Mike D'Antoni, Rockets, Chris Paul

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni was ultimately thrilled with his team’s performance after a 131-115 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies during their first preseason game. The offensive genius was particularly fond of his star point guard, Chris Paul, who put up 22 points, nine assists and five steals in 26 minutes on the floor.

“Chris was Chris,” said an encouraged Mike D’Antoni in what he considered high praise, especially for the second day of October, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “He was only plus-21 tonight. Ridiculous. He just worked so hard to come back. He wants to make this a special year. He’s off to a good start.”

Chris Paul missed the last two games of the Rockets postseason, despite being one win away from the NBA Finals after having pinned the defending champions against the wall, one game away from elimination. The injury was one of many untimely ones for the All-Star point guard, this one, perhaps, the most painful of them all.

The 33-year-old looked thrilled to be back, showcasing his usual flair for playmaking with a plethora of between-the-legs passes — one during a fast break, and another victimizing a Grizzlies player to find new teammate Carmelo Anthony in the corner.

“Always. Always,” said Chris Paul happily. “You try not to take it for granted. Like I say all the time, I only know one way to play. I know it’s just a preseason game, whatever. I compete.

“I had a good summer. You always try to push yourself to come back better. I’ve been excited about getting started.”

Paul looked like he didn’t miss a beat on both ends of the court, orchestrating the offense and playing his usual stingy defense through a decent load of minutes, as D’Antoni gears his starters for the regular season.

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