Clippers pointsguard Chris Paul (3), with his right thumb wrapped in red… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
His mind is playing little games with him, forcing Chris Paul to think more about his thumb rather than just reacting to the game.
Paul had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb Aug. 21, but he has been involved in full-contract practices for almost two weeks and he has played in two exhibition games for the Clippers.
Yet, Paul has been hesitant while playing.
"The other night, there were times that I knew that I could steal the ball, but I don't want to risk it," Paul said. "Even though the doctor says I'm good, the hardest part is getting it through your head."
Paul wears a brace during practices and games to protect and support the thumb, and he said it has affected his shot and dribbling.
"It ain't the easiest thing," Paul said. "But I'm learning to try to deal with it."
He'll get a chance again Saturday night in Salt Lake City when the Clippers play the Jazz for the second time in four days.
Paul, who wants to play more than the 25 minutes he played against Utah on Wednesday night at Staples Center, was asked whether he had persuaded Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro to give him more minutes.
"I hope so," Paul said, smiling. "The fact that we're playing the same team again will be a little different. I don't know. I'm going to play as much as I can Saturday."
Waiting for his role
Willie Green is the starting shooting guard for the Clippers in place of the injured Chauncey Billups (left Achilles' tendon injury), but when Billups returns, Green could easily become the fifth guard behind reserves Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe.
No matter, Green said, he'll play whatever role he is asked.
"When you put me on the floor, my job is to play basketball," Green said. "Whatever the team needs at that time — it may be defensive stops, it may be to hit big shots, it may be to get on the ball and let Chris score some. Whatever it is, at the end of the day, we're basketball players. That's the mentality."
Billups participated in Friday's scrimmage, another sign that he is coming along from his injury. He's still not ready to play in a game, but that may happen sometime in November. "Chauncey gives us another element out there, another dimension," Del Negro said. "It's good to see him out there. He looked real comfortable." … Lamar Odom (knees) and Grant Hill (knee) didn't practice Friday and aren't expected to play against the Jazz.