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Chris Paul (hand) expected to play

The black tape wrapped around the left thumb and wrist of New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul was as much a mystery to him as it was the reporters who surrounded him after practice Saturday.

Paul doesn't remember exactly when or how he hurt his thumb but says he will be ready to start Game 4 of the Hornets' first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

"I don't even remember [when], one of the times they were reaching," Paul said. "I have no clue. It feels better. I will be all right by tomorrow."

When Paul was asked again about his thumb, he did his best to avoid the subject, saying, "We got more stuff to worry about than my thumb."

Hornets coach Monty Williams wouldn't offer any more specifics about the injury other than it was confined to his left thumb.

"It's his thumb, now if you want to call it something else, like an appendage, I don't know," Williams said. "It's not his wrist or a tendon or a bone. It's not anything like that. It's the NBA. A lot guys are walking around bumped and bruised and these are the things you play with the second half of the year."

Paul, who had 22 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds in Game 3, was 8-for-10 from the field in the first half, but just 1-for-3 in the second half. Williams said he will closely monitor Paul, who played through injuries last season while missing 37 games, and talk with team doctors before Game 4.

"He's done it his whole career," Williams said of Paul's playing hurt. "I'm going to have to be his brains, though. If the doctors tell me it's something that can hurt him in the future, that's something we're going to have to talk about, but listening to him and watching him today, he says he's good to play but we'll have to wait until [Sunday]."

After falling behind 2-1 in their best-of-seven series, the Hornets can ill afford to be without Paul at his best. He's averaged 25 points and 10.3 assists in the series.

Kobe Bryant says the Lakers were pleased with their balance in Friday's 14-point victory, but must be ready to respond to the Hornets' adjustments and intensity in the pivotal Game 4.

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.