LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul is back in the Clippers’ lineup after missing five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.

The star point guard will play tonight against the San Antonio Spurs, the second-place team in the Western Conference.

Paul had been out since Jan. 16 after injuring his thumb and having surgery two days later. Paul, who was medically cleared on Wednesday but did not play in Thursday’s 123-113 loss at Golden State, returned slightly ahead of the original timetable of six to eight weeks.

Paul’s return means Austin Rivers will go back to the bench. Paul leads the NBA in steals per game at 2.25.

Contact the writer: cfowler@scng.com

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