That could be bad news for the Sacramento Kings.
Paul and the New Orleans Hornets look to win their sixth straight at home on Tuesday night when they face the Kings for the final time this season.
After missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, Paul returned Friday and posted his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 assists in a 98-89 win over Minnesota.
“I knew at some point I was going to have to come back and test it and get a good barometer,” said Paul, who was not expected to return until Tuesday, but helped the Hornets snap a two-game skid. “This way, if it didn’t work out I’d have four days before we came back and played another game.”
Paul, though, nearly logged 39 minutes against the Timberwolves and also had a season-high eight steals.
“I think it was the adrenaline,” he said. “I got to the game early and had a nice workout. I was nervous. I give credit to my teammates for bearing with me and having confidence in me.”
New Orleans (8-11) has had plenty of confidence at home, winning five in a row since an 86-78 loss to Portland on Nov. 13. The Hornets have also won two straight and eight of nine on their home court versus the Kings.
Sacramento (9-10), meanwhile, has lost four in a row on the road and is 1-7 away from Arco Arena.
Sacramento, though, gave up 115 points for the second consecutive game while allowing the Heat to shoot 58.6 percent from the field.
“We couldn’t find a way to make them miss and they came in our building and shot 58 percent on us,” said first-year Kings coach Paul Westphal. “We tried a little bit of everything on them and they didn’t crack at all.”
Sacramento, which shot 48.0 percent from 3-point range and 51.7 percent overall during a four-game winning streak from Nov. 25-Dec. 2, is shooting 45.0 percent in its last two games.
Thompson hit 8 of 13 and scored 22 points with a season-high 14 boards in a 112-96 victory over the visiting Hornets on Nov. 29. That win snapped the Kings’ four-game slide to New Orleans.