Kings-Hornets Preview

Less than a week after being carted off the court on a

stretcher, Chris Paul might be ready to return to the New Orleans

Hornets’ lineup.

After missing two games with a concussion, the four-time

All-Star could play Saturday night when the Hornets look for a

fifth consecutive home win over the lowly Sacramento Kings, who are

trying to avoid a sixth straight defeat overall.

A day after shooting and taking part in non-contract drills,

Paul went through a full scrimmage Friday and hopes to return after

last playing in Sunday’s 96-81 win at Cleveland.

“We got up and down, we scrimmaged and things like that, and I

felt fine,” said Paul, who suffered the injury when he lunged for

a loose ball and slammed his head into the shoulder of the

Cavaliers’ Ramon Sessions. “A lot of precautionary things had to

take place and I’m glad that I’m about ready to play.”

Paul, averaging 15.9 points and 9.6 assists, still needs to

receive clearance from a neurologist, which could happen Saturday

morning.

“I don’t say that to put pressure on him to come back and play,

but what I saw (Friday) was pretty good,” Hornets coach Monty

Williams said. “We had to put him through everything today and

there were no hiccups at all.”

Seventh in the Western Conference, New Orleans (38-39) has split

its two games without Paul. After falling 85-77 at Chicago on

Monday, the Hornets bounced back two nights later with a 93-92 win

over Dallas.

Starting in place of Paul, Jarrett Jack has totaled 44 points

and hit three free throws in the final seconds to beat the

Mavericks.

When Paul returns, he’ll again be backed up by Jack, who has

averaged 19.2 points in six games this month.

“I know a lot of people point at me right now because Chris is

down,” said Jack, who has played well since he was arrested for

drunken driving over All-Star weekend. “I’m logging a lot of

minutes and just trying to right the ship until he’s back, which is

hopefully Saturday.”

Jack is willing to take a back seat to Paul, who has averaged

16.7 points and 10.7 assists in three games versus Sacramento

(15-48) this season.

Though the Hornets lost 102-96 at Sacramento on Jan. 29, they

have won 10 of 11 at home in the series. Sacramento has averaged

90.8 points during that stretch.

Paul had 22 points with 11 assists and Marcus Thornton added 19

off the bench in a 94-91 home win over the Kings on Dec. 15.

Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans had 22 points in that contest and 18

against the Hornets in January, but likely will miss his 13th

straight game because of plantar fasciitis. The Kings are 2-10

during the reigning rookie of the year’s absence.

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins recorded his fourth double-double in

five games with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the Kings’ 108-103

loss at San Antonio on Friday.

Though Cousins had 25 points with 12 boards in the January win

over the Hornets, he was held to 13 and seven at New Orleans in

December.