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Rockets' Chris Paul comes back Sunday from hamstring injury

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Cain: More pressure on Harden when CP3 returns (1:52)

Will Cain says James Harden has to become more of a team player when Chris Paul returns from injury for the Rockets. (1:52)

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul returned and started Sunday night against the Orlando Magic after a five-week absence because of a strained left hamstring.

The Rockets, riding a historic hot streak by reigning MVP James Harden, managed to go 12-5 in the 17 games that Paul missed since suffering the injury in a Dec. 20 loss to the Miami Heat.

Harden averaged 43.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 8.0 assists in that span, which is part of his active 22-game streak of consecutive 30-plus-point performances, a run surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain.

Houston had lost all five of the previous games that Paul missed this season.

The signing of guard Austin Rivers had also been critical to the Rockets' run despite Paul's absence. Rivers has averaged 11.3 points and 3.8 assists in 37.3 minutes per game since making his Houston debut on Christmas Day. Rivers will come off the bench and spell Paul, whose minutes will be restricted to the "mid-20s," according to coach Mike D'Antoni.

The Rockets will exercise caution with Paul, 33, whose postseason ended prematurely last year because of a hamstring strain suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, by carefully managing his minutes for the remainder of the regular season. D'Antoni told reporters Sunday that Paul, whose 33.2 minutes per game are his most since 2014-15, will likely be held out for one game in each of Houston's remaining back-to-backs.

The Rockets remain without starting center Clint Capela, who is expected to be sidelined until after the All-Star break after undergoing surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb.