Isaiah Thomas made the most of his return to the NBA, even if the outcome of the game was not what the Lakers expected.
The 32-year-old guard’s return path began last week when he signed a contract with the Denver Nuggets’ G League affiliate Grand Rapids Gold to show that he still belongs in the NBA. It didn’t take him long to get the recognition he was looking for, scoring 42 points in his G League debut Thursday to alert scouts, coaches, executives and players.
Just a day later, in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak that has devastated more than a handful of NBA rosters, it was reported that Thomas would sign with the Lakers to a 10-day hardship contract, giving him the opportunity to deserved. to try to get back into the league.
MORE: What is a 10-day hard-terms contract?
His path to playing time took a slight hit when star guard Russell Westbrook was reactivated just one day after being placed on the COVID-19 list due to negative testing, but it turned out that Thomas still saw more than enough minutes to go. show what it is. capable of in a reduced role.
For more information on the two-time All-Star’s return to the NBA, we’ve got you covered below.
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How did Isaiah Thomas play in his Lakers debut?
Although the Lakers were beaten by the Timberwolves, Thomas made his impact felt.
In 22 minutes from the bench, Thomas scored 19 points, shooting 5 of 12 from the field, 2 of 6 from 3-point range and 7 of 9 from the free throw line.
– NBA (@NBA) December 18, 2023
According to StatMuse, only Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk have scored more points in a single game off the bench for the Lakers this season.
What’s the biggest difference to this version of TI compared to the versions we saw with the Wizards in 2019-20 and the Pelicans (in three games on a 10-day contract) last season? Looking much healthier since making a full recovery from a devastating hip injury, he took his first quick step back, driving to the basket frequently rather than simply settling for outside jumpers.
His first bucket was a lane float, a crucial shot to have in the arsenal for a 5-foot-9 guard, and he knocked some of them down all night.
– NBA (@NBA) December 18, 2023
His nine free throw attempts were the most he’s had in a game since Dec. 19, 2019 with the Wizards, proving that he hit the rim again like in his All-Star days.
In this 10-day contract, Thomas’s job is to eat up the bank minutes and be a professional scorer. He also had two boards, an assist and a “block” (which was actually a steal), posting a +/- of minus one, which was the highest mark of any Lakers player who played more than 20 minutes.
It was great to see Thomas back on the NBA court and even better to see him blended in like he never left.
What did Isaiah Thomas say about his debut with the Lakers?
It was a long trip back to the league for the former NBA guard, and after the game, he gave some heartfelt and insightful quotes about his return.
By ESPN’s Dave McMenaminSaid Thomas, “My lows were just not being able to play at the level I’m used to. It was very frustrating when your mind tells you to do something, but your body doesn’t allow you to do it. Do it.
“That was my first major injury, so basketball is everything to me, so it really kept me from being who I am … Those were some of the worst moments of my life.”
Thomas continued: “Obviously in ’17 my sister passed away and then like it was all downhill it felt like it did. But I leaned on my support system, which is my family.
“The best moment for me? When I signed up for the game and they really cheered me on. And this is an away game. Those moments mean more to me than anything else, just because people respect what I do and people respect me. respect the routine I do. ‘Mon.
A standing ovation for Isaiah Thomas as he enters the game ❤️ pic.twitter.com/K8gYsYff6Z
– ESPN (@espn) December 18, 2023
“I am very grateful for this whole situation. I never thought that … without saying that I did not think that I would go back to the NBA, I just never thought that I would feel like that again. Like, I have no limitations with my body, with my hips, and it is that’s why I smile so much because I’m in a great place mentally and in a great place physically. “
Thomas and the Lakers return to action on Sunday, December 19, against the Chicago Bulls.