|Pelicans G Rondo to increase minutes versus Raptors|
NEW ORLEANS -- When the New Orleans Pelicans host the Toronto Raptors at the Smoothie King Center on Wednesday night in the second contest of a three-game homestand, they will be looking for ways to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.
Despite winning five of their last six games, the Pelicans (8-6) have been sloppy handling the ball, committing 42 turnovers in their last two games.
There are some hopeful signs on the horizon. Point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed the first 13 games of the season while rebounding from sports hernia surgery, played five minutes in a 106-105 victory over Atlanta on Monday night, hitting a baseline layup eight seconds after coming in and dishing out two assists.
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said Tuesday he expects the 31-year-old Rondo's playing time to ramp up over the next several weeks, and he should play about 14 to 16 minutes against Toronto.
"We want him out there, and obviously he's going to be an integral part of what we're trying to do," Gentry said. "You can see, just in the few minutes he played, that he can do a lot of things from the standpoint of keeping us organized and putting us in certain situations. I think he's going to be really good at that."
Rondo used his recuperation time to analyze what he sees as the Pelicans' strengths -- the ability of twin bigs Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to run the court, spread the floor, attack and protect the rim, pass the ball and shoot from long range. He said Tuesday he was excited to begin assuming the point guard role, which should reduce the ballhandling pressure on guard Jrue Holiday.
"It was a great feeling, just to be out there with my teammates, instead of cheering the entire game," Rondo said. "I got my feet wet. Due to the schedule, we didn't have a lot of time to practice (recently), so I'm using the game as my practice to get my rhythm and get better.
"(Watching) from the sideline, we're trying to make the home-run pass, instead of the simple pass. We've just got to continue to learn, watch film and get better. It's going to work itself out. Turnovers don't last long at this high of a level. We've just got to be consistent and keep it simple."
Toronto (8-5) put together a franchise-record 45-point second quarter in its 129-113 road win at Houston on Tuesday night. DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 27 points, C.J. Miles made six 3-pointers for 19 points and Kyle Lowry posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists. Rookie OG Anunoby had 16 points in his first career start.
Toronto's 76-point first half was 10 points more than the Raptors had scored in any half this season and three points shy of the franchise record.
"We were we aggressive on both ends and let our defense dictate our offense," DeRozan said after beating the Rockets. "We put up a lot of points and did what we're supposed to do."
The Raptors have won 13 of their last 16 against the Pelicans, including five straight. In beating the Pelicans 122-118 at home Nov. 9, Toronto was led by DeRozan with 33 points and eight assists. Holiday had his best game of the season for the Pelicans, scoring 34 points with 11 assists.