Chris Paul expected back Thursday after month off

Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul is expected to make his return Thursday against the Phoenix Suns after missing almost a month with a bruised left knee.

"There's nothing like playing a game, so I'm excited about the process of it," Paul told reporters.

Paul has not played since the Rockets' season opener on Oct. 17.

"He's ready to go," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters before practice Wednesday in Houston. "I think he's playing tomorrow, so we'll see."

The Rockets traded for Paul, a nine-time All-Star, to complement superstar James Harden. Houston has managed to get off to an 11-4 start with Paul sidelined, relying as heavily on Harden as the Rockets did last season, when he was the MVP runner-up.

D'Antoni anticipates an adjustment period with Paul back in the mix. He must play his way into shape and figure out how to mesh with Harden and his other new teammates.

"What we've done up to now doesn't count," D'Antoni said. "We've got a new team tomorrow. When you put that big of a rock into a pond, there's big waves. ... We have to endure the next two or three games and smooth it out as we go along."