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Paul, Love return to court

NEW ORLEANS -- Two-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul returned to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night after missing eight games, and Kevin Love played for the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time this season.


Peja Stojakovic also returned for the Hornets after being out to attend to a personal matter.

Paul, the runner-up to the Lakers' Kobe Bryant for NBA MVP in 2007-08, has been out since spraining his left ankle against Portland on Nov. 13. He leads the Hornets in scoring (23.8 ppg) and assists (9.2).

"Really, no restrictions have been placed on him," Hornets coach Jeff Bower said before Friday night's game. "We'll see how he feels, but he's been cleared for full participation."

The Hornets (7-11) went 4-4 in Paul's absence, winning four home games. His replacement, rookie Darren Collison, averaged 14.9 points and 6.4 assists in that span.

Love, the No. 5 pick in the 2008 draft, broke the fourth metacarpal bone in his left, non-shooting hand during a preseason game on Oct. 16. The Timberwolves have won two of their first 18 games.

Love, who entered the game halfway through the first quarter, averaged 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds as a rookie.

"He got clearance from doctors, and he felt like he was ready to play," Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said before the game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.