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Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram returns from 29-game absence

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Brandon Ingram has appeared in just 15 games for New Orleans this season, with the team going 9-6 with him on the floor.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Brandon Ingram was back in the New Orleans Pelicans’ starting lineup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, playing his first game since late November.

Ingram, who averaged 20.8 points during his first 15 games this season, has not played since injuring his left big toe during a loss at Memphis on Nov. 25 and missed 29 games since.

His return came as New Orleans, which also has been without star power forward Zion Williamson (right hamstring) for 11 games, tried to snap a five-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, Minnesota 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert, who has averaged 13.3 points and 11.6 rebounds this season, returned to the Timberwolves’ starting lineup after a three-game absence because of a groin injury.

New Orleans has lost eight of its previous 11 games with both 20-plus-point-per-game former All-Stars out of the lineup.

Ingram indicated after practicing Monday that his return could come this week.

“It’s been a good last few days, with me being back on the floor with my teammates,” Ingram said. “I’m trying to figure out some things I can do on the floor and continue to progress.”

The Pelicans said Tuesday that while Williamson’s rehabilitation has progressed well, his return to on-court practice will be limited and he’s expected to be out for at least another two weeks.

Williamson has averaged 26 points in 29 games.

Naji Marshall, who missed Tuesday night’s loss to Denver with an injured right big toe, also was back in the lineup against Minnesota. Marshall, a prominent reserve who has started 17 games this season because of injuries, has averaged 10.5 points in 43 games.

Pelicans rookie Dyson Daniels, who injured his right ankle Tuesday night and left the arena on crutches, was ruled out against the Timberwolves.

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