LAKELAND, Fla. (AP)Almost 2 1/2 years after playing in his last official basketball game, Jonathan Isaac scored 15 points in 15 minutes Wednesday night in the G League in the Lakeland Magic’s 129-117 victory over the Westchester Knicks.
The 6-foot-10 forward graded himself ”incomplete.”
”I’m not going to look at it too deep because it is my first game back,” Isaac said. ”I’m glad I got a couple buckets to fall, but really it was just for my conditioning. I definitely got tired, so that’s something I’ve got to keep working on to have the impact that I want to.”
Playing without any knee brace or any visual sign of a leg injury, Isaac played in each of the four quarters. He had five rebounds and altered several shots. He dunked twice, missed a dunk, drew three fouls, scored on two layups and hit two mid-range jumpers.
Isaac tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing in the NBA’s bubble on Aug. 2, 2020. He missed the entire 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and the first half of this season. He also underwent a surgical procedure on his right hamstring 10 months ago.
Isaac has been scrimmaging full-court, 5-on-5, for a few weeks.
”But there’s honestly nothing like the game,” he said. ”We can try to kind of muck it up with players, assistants and coaches but it’s not the same. Just to get out there and feel the hardwood and let it all sink in, it felt really good.”
As of Wednesday night, Isaac said he didn’t know what the next step would be, or when.
”One, it’s about how I feel,” he said. ”I’ll talk to the training staff about what we’re going to do. I’m glad I got this one under my belt. Whether I play another (G League game) or not, I’m just excited to be moving forward.
”I’m sure if I play again here, it’ll be for more minutes. We’ll just continue to push it and then see where it goes from there.”
After being drafted sixth overall in 2017 out of Florida State, Isaac played in 134 regular-season games in his first three seasons, including 75 games in 2018-19, Orlando’s only winning season of the last 10.
His original left knee injury occurred Jan. 1, 2020, in a game at Washington. He returned to play two games in the bubble before tearing his ACL.
Isaac, 25, is the Magic’s highest-paid player. He has two seasons remaining on a four-year contract that pays him an annual salary of $17.4 million.
Terrence Ross, Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba are the only players still on the roster who played in Isaac’s last game with the Magic.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports