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Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Lonzo Ball plans to play against Raptors

Injuries have been an unfortunate common theme to the early portion of New Orleans’ 2019-20 regular season, with four projected starters having missed either full games (Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson, Derrick Favors) or parts of a game (Brandon Ingram). The only member of the anticipated first unit mostly untouched by health issues had been point guard Lonzo Ball, but even he wound up on the injury report Thursday, listed as probable due to a right adductor strain.

However, Ball noted at Friday’s morning shootaround that he plans to play in the rematch vs. Toronto, a Raptors team that pulled out a 130-122 overtime victory over the Pelicans in the Oct. 22 season opener.

“I’m going to give it a go, see how it feels and go from there,” Ball said suiting up against Toronto.

Ball said of the right adductor strain that he first felt the effect of the injury Saturday at Oklahoma City, but played through it Monday in Brooklyn. He also sustained cramping in his calf at Barclays Center, but that issue eventually lessened and should not affect him going forward (he called the cramps “no problem”).

Ball isn’t the only Pelicans guard whose name appeared on yesterday’s injury report. JJ Redick is listed as questionable due to a left knee bruise. Redick’s status will likely be updated during Alvin Gentry’s pregame press conference at approximately 5:15 p.m. Central (streaming live on Pelicans.com).

Other notes from Friday shootaround in Metairie:

Ball on some of New Orleans’ defensive goals vs. Toronto, a team that ranks ninth in offensive efficiency: “Just limit their fast-break points and try not to foul as much. We fouled a lot last time. Rebound the ball. Those are three keys.” The Pelicans committed 34 fouls Oct. 22, compared to 24 by the Raptors. Toronto won the rebounding battle 57-53, including pulling down 16 offensive boards. …

Through seven games, Ball is shooting a career-best 38.6 percent from three-point range, while making 2.4 per contest, also a career high over his three seasons. Ball’s explanation: “My shot is more consistent. It feels the same throughout the game, instead of how I had it last year, where it was adjusted throughout the game.” …

Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a Toronto-area native but struggled in the Oct. 22 game at Scotiabank Arena, his first official appearance as a pro, going 1/10. He has had difficulty finding his shooting touch early as a rookie, but had a 6/11 game vs. Golden State on Oct. 28.

“Just trying to find your comfort zone,” Alexander-Walker said of adjusting to the NBA as a rookie. “I’m trying to get better every day. It’s a long season. I’m trying to be prepared as much as I can to be better.” …

New Orleans (1-6) is firing 40.0 three-pointers per game, which ranks fourth in the NBA (Houston leads the league again at 47.8). Ball on why the Pelicans are launching a large number of treys: “(It’s about taking) the best shot. If it’s open, take it. We have enough guys where we shouldn’t have to force anything. We can get a good shot pretty much every (possession).” …

Alexander-Walker on the Pelicans trying to make strides collectively: “We’re a young team. The chemistry is starting to build. I believe as we find our identity as a whole, it will start to come together.”

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