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Jonas Valanciunas back in starting lineup after two-game injury absence

De’Aaron Fox is out for tonight’s Pelicans-Kings matchup

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Valanciunas will be in the starting lineup for tonight’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings, returning from a two-game absence after suffering a left calf contusion against the Magic.

There was a level of optimism that Valanciunas would be able to rejoin his New Orleans Pelicans teammates on Monday as he participated fully in yesterday’s practice. His glee about a potential return was also evident after this morning’s shoortaround, with the big man showing his humor during a media interview.

“I feel ashamed,” Valanciunas jokingly replied to a question about his physical well-being after missing a couple of contests. “Well, I feel pretty good, pretty good.”

Tonight’s matchup against the Kings will mark the first meeting of the season between Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis, as JV missed New Orleans’ victory over Sacramento on Feb. 5.

Facing Sabonis has special meaning for Valanciunas as he’s known the Kings starting center since he joined the Lithuanian National Team at 19 years of age. In addition, Valanciunas was once an enormous fan of Domantas’ father, Arvydas Sabonis.

“He was a basketball God when you were growing up,” Valanciunas said. “I think everyone looked at him as the main guy in Lithuania.”

De’Aaron Fox is out for the Kings with left hamstring soreness. He also missed the Feb. 5 matchup against the Pelicans.

Let’s Geaux, Pels!

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (31-33) at Sacramento Kings (37-26)

When: March 6, 9:00 p.m. CT

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

Where to listen: WRNO 99.5

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