Chris Paul injury update: Rockets star expected back from hamstring strain 'sometime next week'

The Houston Rockets may finally be close to getting one of their top producers back.

According to Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni, Chris Paul could return to the lineup next week after suffering a hamstring injury last month. 

Paul has been out with the injury since suffering the ailment against the Miami Heat on December 20. It had initially been stated that he would be re-evaluated a couple of weeks after the injury. In the re-evaluation, it appeared Paul's injury was a little bit worse than expected, meaning that by the time he returns, it will have been over a month since he last played in a game.

Prior to his injury, the 33-year-old veteran had averaged 15.6 points and 8.0 assists per game.

Luckily for the Rockets, they've played better without Paul -- but that's only because reigning MVP James Harden has completely taken over. Harden has scored at least 30 points in 18 straight games and went on a five-game streak of scoring at least 40 points. Not only has Harden arguably re-established himself as the MVP favorite, but the Rockets have accumulated a 9-4 record with Paul out of the lineup.

After spending much of the early portion of the season stuck in 14th place in the Western Conference, Houston now has the sixth-best record in the West. However, the team now finds themselves without center Clint Capela for the next 4-to-6 weeks while he deals with a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Although the Rockets have played well in the absence of Paul, Harden obviously can't maintain this type of production for the duration of the regular season. They'll be hoping Paul returns sooner rather than later as they continue their push for one of the top seeds in the Western Conference playoffs.

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