Chris Paul back for Clippers in Game 3

LOS ANGELES -- Clippers point guard Chris Paul started in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

"He's definitely playing," Rivers said before the game. "Minute-wise, we're definitely going to restrict his minutes. A lot of it will be visually, but we will restrict his minutes for sure."

Rivers said before the game that Paul's minutes would be "closer to the 20s than to the 40s, for sure."

After an on-court workout Thursday and a shootaround Friday, Paul had told teammates he planned to play.

"He had a good workout," Rivers said. "He probably got his confidence sky high because we had [assistant coach] Sam Cassell work out with him, so my guess is he scored every time, just like in Sam's playing days. We really pushed him in some of the things he had to do in pick-and-roll and stuff like that. He looked good, but it's not the game. No matter what you do, I've learned that: It's never the game. That's where early on, I'll still watch because this injury is one of those injuries that scared the hell out of me. I think our trainers are more comfortable with it. It's a hamstring. The good thing is he went pretty hard yesterday without adrenalin, and he wanted to go, and today, with adrenalin, he'll be even better."

Rivers said he wasn't worried about Paul reaggravating the injury, and he wants his star point guard to play the same way he did before suffering the injury in Saturday's Game 7 win over the Spurs.

"I want Chris to just go play," Rivers said. "You can't go out and nurse anything. Obviously, you have to be smart with it, but you have to play. That team we're playing, they don't care. They don't care what we have. They're going to attack, and they're going to be aggressive, so if you're going to go out there, you have to be ready to play. We wouldn't put him out there if he wasn't ready to play."

Paul averaged 19.1 points, 10.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game this season. It marked the first time in his 10-year NBA career that he started all 82 games in the regular season.

Paul missed the first two games of the series against the Rockets. The series is tied 1-1.

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