The Houston Rockets clinched a pivotal Game 5 victory on Thursday to take a 3-2 Western Conference finals lead over the Golden State Warriors. Even in the win, though, it felt like a loss for Houston, which saw Chris Paul come up hobbled late in the game. Paul left in the final minute with an apparent hamstring injury and did not return.
Paul has since been ruled out for Saturday's Game 6, and it's unclear if he'll re-appear in the series. The team will reevaluate him when the Rockets return from their Game 6 road trip to Golden State, where they can clinch the series.
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said his star's spirits "aren't great" after Game 5 and that Paul is "worried" -- which was an early indication that the injury was more than just a ding. It's just another bite from the injury bug that has once again come at an inopportune time for the longtime NBA star.
Paul has a history of nagging injuries to either him or a critical member of his team, particularly over the past half-decade -- and specifically in the playoffs, that have kept him on the sidelines over the years.
Here's a timeline of those injuries that have hobbled Paul -- or his teammates -- in the postseason over the years in his 10 playoff appearances.
2009: Hornets big man Tyson Chandler suffered a toe injury in 2009 and missed 15 of the team's final 16 games of the regular season, and 37 games in total of what turned out to be an injury plagued season for the 7-foot-1 center. Chandler returned in the playoffs, but the Hornets' rhythm didn't follow suit. New Orleans fell 4-1 in the first round to Carmelo Anthony's Nuggets and derailed what appeared to be an otherwise promising postseason run for Paul's Hornets squad that fell seven games shy of a franchise-best regular-season record.
2013: Clippers co-star Blake Griffin sustained an ankle injury ahead of Game 5 in their first-round tilt against the Memphis Grizzlies, and re-aggravated it in Game 5 -- a game that ultimately gave the Grizzlies a 3-2 series lead it would never relinquish. Griffin played 14 minutes in Game 6 but the Paul-Griffin magic that propelled them to a franchise record 56-win regular season fizzled with Griffin's injury.
2015: Paul played in all 82 regular-season games during the 2014-15 season, but suffered a hamstring injury in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs. Though Paul played through the injury and scored 27 points, including a game-winner to clinch the series, he hobbled himself enough to miss the next two games of the second round.
Paul returned for Games 3 through 7 of the conference semifinals where he averaged 21.2 points and 10 assists per game. But the Clippers eventually bowed out, ironically, to the Rockets after losing the final three games of the series.
2016: Paul broke a bone in his right hand during Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers. The injury occurred with Paul's Clippers up 2-1 in the series; they would not win another game in the series, and ultimately fell 4-2 to Portland. Paul did not return after sustaining the Game 4 injury.
2017: Another year derailed by an unfortunate Blake Griffin injury. Griffin suffered a plantar plate injury in Game 3 of the first round of the West playoffs against the Utah Jazz, which required surgery. Griffin did not return, and Paul and the Clippers never recovered. L.A. fell to the Jazz in seven games.
2018: Paul has stepped his game up a notch in the playoffs in his first postseason with the Rockets, averaging slightly over 21 points and 5.8 rebounds per game thus far. However, he sustained a hamstring injury on Thursday night in the waning seconds of Houston's Game 5 win over the Warriors. He has been ruled out for Game 6 on Saturday.