Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and teammate Chris...

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and teammate Chris Paul (3) laugh during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

WASHINGTON — Chris Paul returned for the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards after missing 21 games with a broken left hand that required surgery.

The 38-year-old point guard finished with nine points and six assists in 22 minutes in Golden State's 123-112 victory — not far off his season averages of 8.9 points and 7.2 assists — and sparked big runs in the second and third quarters while leading the Warriors' second unit.

Coach Steve Kerr said there was no minutes restriction for Paul, and he appreciated having the veteran on the floor.

“All season long he's been such a high performer, in terms of all of our best lineups, it seems like he's in. Just knowns how to play,” Kerr said.

Klay Thompson, who also recently moved to a reserve role, led the Warriors with 25 points.

“What a luxury to come off the bench with Chris Paul and Klay Thompson,” Kerr said.

The Warriors had already been playing their best basketball of the season without Paul. Tuesday's victory gave them 11 in 14 games.

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul, warms up before the...

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul, warms up before the start of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Golden State struggled earlier in the season when Draymond Green was suspended for a blow to the face of Phoenix's Jusuf Nurkic, a ban that ultimately lasted 12 games. Paul was hurt on Jan. 5 and Green returned on Jan. 15.

“I think this is a really good situation for us to be in where we’ve found some continuity with our starting group,” Kerr said. “Chris has anchored that second unit all season long. If we can put those things together, we have a chance to really be a good team for 48 minutes.”

The Warriors moved into ninth place in the Western Conference and improved to 6-1 since Jan. 30 in games where Thompson has come off the bench.

Paul's return came against the team that traded him to Golden State. Paul never played for the Wizards, who acquired him last summer from Phoenix for Bradley Beal, then flipped him to the Warriors for a package headlined by Jordan Poole.

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul (3) dribbles the ball...

Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul (3) dribbles the ball while Washington Wizards guard Jordan Poole, right, runs to defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Andrew Wiggins was ruled out Tuesday for personal reasons. He has averaged 15.3 points over the past nine games, but his overall scoring average (12.7 points) is the lowest of his 10-year career. Moses Moody started in Wiggins’ place.

“We'll just respect, obviously, respect Andrew's wishes for this to remain just private and personal reasons,” Kerr said, “and we'll just go from there.”

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