By Broderick Turner
8:06 PM PST, February 22, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY — Chris Paul sat on the scorer's table inside Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday, his head down, his left hand covering his sprained right thumb when the media gathered around him before the Clippers started practice.
Paul had injured the thumb in the final few seconds Friday night at Memphis, and the only question was whether the All-Star guard would play Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"No question," Paul said.
He spent most of his time getting treatment from head athletic trainer Jasen Powell.
Paul didn't get an X-ray or an MRI exam on his hand, the Clippers said, but he may have an examination sometime after the Thunder game. The Clippers finish the three-game trip with a back-to-back game at New Orleans on Monday night.
Paul was hurt when he reached in after Marc Gasol got a rebound.
"I'm going to have to stop trying to steal the ball," Paul said. "But it is what it is. Just got to get through it."
Paul has played in only four regular-season games after sitting out 18 consecutive games because of a separated right shoulder.
Paul will face another point guard in Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, who also is coming back from an injury.
Westbrook, a former UCLA star and three-time All-Star, played in his first game Thursday night against the Miami Heat after sitting out the previous 27 games recovering from right knee surgery.
It was his third procedure in nine months on the same knee.
"I'm extremely happy for him," Paul said. "I know how tough it is to sit out and watch, especially somebody like Russell who loves to play so much. So, it should be a good game tomorrow."
Clippers face tough Thunder
The Clippers have not had a good start after the All-Star break, losing their first two games against tough opponents.
And it doesn't get any easier. They will play the Thunder on Sunday in a nationally televised game.
The Thunder has the best record in the NBA at 43-13, and it is 23-4 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"We've got to come out with the right mind-set, especially against Oklahoma City," Blake Griffin said. "They are going to come out gunning. They play great at home. It's got to be a mindset. We've got to have mental toughness right out of the game against a team like that."
The Clippers dropped their first game after the All-Star break to San Antonio and lost a tough game at Memphis on Friday night.
The Clippers had won three consecutive games before the All-Star break and are searching for that groove again.
"We'll get it back," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "Everybody goes through little stretches. We came out of the break not ready. So far we haven't played great. But there are a lot of games left and a lot of time to get ready. We just have to do it."
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