Chris Paul says he's ready for return
"We got up and down, we scrimmaged and things like that, and I felt fine," said Paul, who has missed two games since being diagnosed with a mild concussion last Sunday night. "A lot of precautionary things had to take place and I'm glad that I'm about ready to play."
The All-Star guard still must get clearance from a neurologist before he can come back. Hornets coach Monty Williams anticipated that could happen by Saturday morning, if not before.
"I don't say that to put pressure on him to come back and play, but what I saw today was pretty good. He was Chris," Williams said. "We had to put him through everything today and there were no hiccups at all."
Paul first returned to practice on Thursday for non-contact drills and shooting.
Paul is averaging 15.9 points and 9.6 assists for the Hornets, who entered Friday's action holding the seventh of eight playoff seeds in the Western Conference, three games ahead of Phoenix and Utah, who are tied for ninth.
His injury occurred in the third quarter of New Orleans' victory at Cleveland, when he lunged for a loose ball and slammed his head into Ramon Sessions' shoulder.
Paul lay on the floor about 10 minutes before being rolled off on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital.
"It's scary, but at the same time I feel blessed that it wasn't as bad as it could have been," Paul said. "I'm grateful to all the people who wished me well and all their prayers and their thoughts."
Paul said he never lost consciousness and didn't want to be placed on a stretcher.
"I tried to tell them I didn't need it, but they weren't trying to hear that, so it is what it is and I'm glad I'm past that," he said. "I hope to never have to relive that again."
Paul said he thought it would be a good idea for the NBA to draft league-wide policies and procedures for concussions, but conceded that he'd never given the matter much thought before.
"I never had this injury, never been in an ambulance or anything like that, so it's something to think about," said Paul, who also played quarterback in his youth. "I played football and I feel like I've been hit way harder than the other night. It was just a freak accident."
If Paul is unable to play Saturday, Jarrett Jack would be expected to start for a third straight game.
If Paul returns, Williams said he would expect to play him 35 minutes or more, as usual, while Jack would again be Paul's backup. However, with Jack having scored 23 and 21 points in his last two starts, Williams said he might find ways to get Jack more playing to time take advantage of his scoring.
That could include having Jack play some at shooting guard, or allowing Paul to spend some time playing off the ball while Jack is at point guard, Williams said.
"Chris likes having somebody out there at times when he gets a little winded to handle the ball or guard the ball," Williams said.
"That's something I'm going to work on tonight," Williams said. "I don't want to do it to the detriment of Willie's minutes or Marco's minutes, so it's a fine line."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press