Elfrid Payton returns for Pelicans, Davis ill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton has returned from a broken hand that sidelined him for about six weeks and he was in the starting lineup against Minnesota on Monday night.

However, the Pelicans say leading scorer and rebounder Anthony Davis is ill and unable to play against the Timblerwolves. Jahlil Okafor started in Davis’ place.

Payton has missed 22 games since fracturing a finger on his left hand against the New York Knicks on Nov. 16. That was his first game back from an earlier right ankle sprain that sidelined him nine games.

He has played in just six games in all, averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds.

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Payton was signed as a free agent this past offseason and has assumed the role vacated by Rajon Rondo when he left for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.

Entering the game against Minnesota, the Pelicans had won five of six games in which Payton played. They’d gone 11-20 without him.

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