Chris Paul tells Clippers teammates he plans to return for Game 3

Chris Paul tells Clippers teammates he plans to return for Game 3

It seems Blake Griffin won't have to shoulder the load for the Los Angeles Clippers by himself any longer.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who has missed the first two games of their Western Conference semifinal series with a left hamstring injury, alerted teammates he plans to play when Game 3 against the Houston Rockets tips off on Friday night, according to The Orange County Register's Dan Woike.

"Chris is a warrior, which scares all of us," Matt Barnes said. "... He said he's playing tonight. You just hope that he's ready because his game is so much stop and go and he's such an integral part of our team."

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"I told him tonight I expect to see the CP that I'm going to see at 50 at the YMCA," Barnes said. "You know, like an older Mark Jackson out there controlling the sets, running the team, coming off pick and rolls, making plays but still picking and choosing his spots.

"... We'll have to see what he has in store for us tonight."

Paul played the final three quarters of the Clippers' thrilling Game 7 victory against the San Antonio Spurs with a left hamstring strain, ultimately making the game-winning shot with one second remaining. He averaged 22.7 points, 7.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and two steals per game in the first round of the playoffs.

In Paul's absence for the first two games against the Rockets, Griffin has done his best to fill his sizable playmaking shoes, recording a triple double (26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists) in a Game 1 win in Houston. But when the Rockets spoiled his 34-15-4 performance in Game 2, it seemed clear the Clippers would need Paul in order to make a serious run at the franchise's first conference final.

Just how effective Paul can be remains to be seen, and while it's unlikely he carries the offensive and defensive load for 40 minutes, it can't hurt to have a guy who finished sixth in MVP voting back in the lineup.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!