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Game thread: Valanciunas dominating paint a key for Pelicans against Raptors

And Gary Clark signs two-way contract with New Orleans!

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans are going to rely heavily on Brandon Ingram against the Raptors, but Jonas Valanciunas is going to be one of the keys in defusing Toronto’s preferred transition attack.

The Raptors are third in steals (9.3) and lead the NBA in fast break points per game (16.4).

Feeding Valanciunas on the inside might be the best option at curbing Toronto’s running ways, forcing them to guard the big man and use bodies to keep him off the glass.

In addition, the entire New Orleans team should look to pound the offensive boards. The Raptors are the worst defensive rebounding team in the league. That Pelicans are the third-best offensive rebounding team.

Attacking Toronto’s weaknesses could give New Orleans a much-needed leg up.

In some off-the-court news, the Pelicans announced moments ago that Gary Clark was signed to a two-way contract, replacing Jared Harper, who was waived to make room.

According to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, Harper could return to the Squadron as they own his G-League rights.

For more on tonight’s matchup, please give our preview a read.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (14-25) at Toronto Raptors (19-17)

When: January 9, 2022, 5:00 pm

Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.