Lonzo Ball returns to action, starting lineup for Pelicans vs. Thunder

Point guard Lonzo Ball will make his ninth start of the regular season Sunday vs. Oklahoma City, marking his return to the court and the first string. Ball sat out the last two games due to illness, and previously was a reserve over a three-game span from Nov. 21-24, but will rejoin Jrue Holiday in the backcourt against the Thunder. In related news, Kenrich Williams (ankle) will not play Sunday; after he’d been starting recently, Williams’ absence opened up a spot in the starting lineup.

Additionally, Alvin Gentry said pregame that Jahlil Okafor will start at center Sunday instead of Jaxson Hayes, because Steven Adams is a better matchup for Okafor than Hayes, who gave up a lot of weight in Friday’s game. As a result, Hayes should spend more of his on-court time matched up with Thunder backup Nerlens Noel than vs. Adams.

Derrick Favors (personal reasons) remains out for New Orleans.