Sacramento (15-48) at New Orleans (38-29)

By JEFF MEZYDLO, STATS Senior Writer Saturday, Mar 12, 2011 Tipoff: 8:00 pm EST Sat Mar 12, 2011

Less than a week after being carted off the court on a stretcher, Chris Paul(notes) might be ready to return to the New Orleans Hornets’ lineup.

After missing two games with a concussion, the four-time All-Star could play Saturday night when the Hornets look for a fifth consecutive home win over the lowly Sacramento Kings, who are trying to avoid a sixth straight defeat overall.

A day after shooting and taking part in non-contract drills, Paul went through a full scrimmage Friday and hopes to return after last playing in Sunday’s 96-81 win at Cleveland.

“We got up and down, we scrimmaged and things like that, and I felt fine,” said Paul, who suffered the injury when he lunged for a loose ball and slammed his head into the shoulder of the Cavaliers’ Ramon Sessions(notes). “A lot of precautionary things had to take place and I’m glad that I’m about ready to play.”

Paul, averaging 15.9 points and 9.6 assists, still needs to receive clearance from a neurologist, which could happen Saturday morning.

“I don’t say that to put pressure on him to come back and play, but what I saw (Friday) was pretty good,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “We had to put him through everything today and there were no hiccups at all.”

Seventh in the Western Conference, New Orleans (38-39) has split its two games without Paul. After falling 85-77 at Chicago on Monday, the Hornets bounced back two nights later with a 93-92 win over Dallas.

Starting in place of Paul, Jarrett Jack(notes) has totaled 44 points and hit three free throws in the final seconds to beat the Mavericks.

When Paul returns, he’ll again be backed up by Jack, who has averaged 19.2 points in six games this month.

“I know a lot of people point at me right now because Chris is down,” said Jack, who has played well since he was arrested for drunken driving over All-Star weekend. “I’m logging a lot of minutes and just trying to right the ship until he’s back, which is hopefully Saturday.”

Jack is willing to take a back seat to Paul, who has averaged 16.7 points and 10.7 assists in three games versus Sacramento (15-48) this season.

Though the Hornets lost 102-96 at Sacramento on Jan. 29, they have won 10 of 11 at home in the series. Sacramento has averaged 90.8 points during that stretch.

Paul had 22 points with 11 assists and Marcus Thornton(notes) added 19 off the bench in a 94-91 home win over the Kings on Dec. 15.

Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans(notes) had 22 points in that contest and 18 against the Hornets in January, but likely will miss his 13th straight game because of plantar fasciitis. The Kings are 2-10 during the reigning rookie of the year’s absence.

Rookie DeMarcus Cousins(notes) recorded his fourth double-double in five games with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the Kings’ 108-103 loss at San Antonio on Friday.

Though Cousins had 25 points with 12 boards in the January win over the Hornets, he was held to 13 and seven at New Orleans in December.

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Saturday, Mar 12