New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry wasn't going to surprise the Toronto Raptors.
Rajon Rondo, New Orleans' 31-year-old point guard who recently returned from injury, officially made his first start as a Pelican on Wednesday, which was of no surprise to the visiting Raptors, Gentry said before the game.
"There's a possibility that he'll start," Gentry jokingly told reporters. "Yeah, he's starting. What am I going to do? (Toronto's) going to go, 'Oh my god, Rondo's starting.' No, he's starting."
Rondo made his Pelicans debut Monday against the Atlanta Hawks, contributing two points and two assists in five minutes, after missing nearly one month (13 games) to recover from core muscle surgery Oct. 10.
Rondo, who was scheduled to play no more than 16 minutes Wednesday, started in place of guard E’Twaun Moore, which, coincidentally, returned guard Jrue Holiday to more of an off-ball role and shifted Moore to the bench.
For the first time this season, New Orleans’ starting lineup was in full form: Rondo, Holiday, and forwards Dante Cunningham, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
“We're happy to have him back," Davis said.
Moore, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who tied his career high with 24 points Monday, was relegated to a substitute role as the Pelicans maintained 6-foot-8 Cunningham in Wednesday's lineup. Cunningham is averaging 4.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14 games prior to Wednesday.
"He always gives us a pop off the bench," Gentry said.
Tony Allen (knee) out vs. Raptors
Reserve guard Tony Allen's injured knee appears to still be bothering him.
Allen, entering his 14th NBA season in 2017-18, was ruled out Wednesday because of left knee inflammation, Gentry said. It is unclear if Allen will play at Denver on Friday, when the coach originally planned for Allen's tentative return.
“When he's able to play, he'll play," Gentry said. "If he's not playing, it's because he absolutely can't play."
Allen is "day-to-day" with the lingering knee injury, Gentry said.
"I guess everybody says this, but if it was a playoff game, he would play," the coach said. "But I don't think it's worth taking a risk right now — 12, 13 games into the season with a guy like him. Because his value is going to be later on in special situations."
Before Wednesday's game, Allen, 35, had missed two games with the knee injury. He’s played more than 20 minutes in one of the Pelicans’ 15 games this season.
Frank Jackson update
The Pelicans have four others sidelined with injuries against Toronto, including Alexis Ajinca (right knee), Omer Asik (illness), Solomon Hill (torn hamstring) and Frank Jackson (fractured right foot).
Jackson, who had surgery to repair a right foot fracture (fifth metatarsal) on Sept. 1, is progressing well, Gentry said.
"It's going along great," Gentry said. "He'll start next week doing a few things here and there. I'm interested to see how he's going to respond to some things. I'm eager to watch him play. I think he's got a chance to be a good player in this league."