Orlando, Florida. –Forward magic jonathan isaac he stood at the scorer’s table, had a brief conversation with coach Jamahl Mosley, and calmly removed his shooting jersey. He turned to face the court, put on his mouth guard and walked onto the NBA court to play his first game in more than 900 days.

The long wait was over. While checking into the game between a couple of jayson tatum free throws, the sellout crowd of 19,196 inside the Amway Center showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.

Isaac, 25, had not played an official NBA game since Aug. 1. On February 2, 2020, when he tore the ACL in his left knee during a game in the Orlando bubble. He missed all of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and half of the 2022-23 season before returning Monday night against the Boston Celtics.

On a tight minute restriction, Isaac finished with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in just under 10 minutes of action as the Magic defeated the Celtics 113-98.

Isaac said there was a lot on his mind when he was checking in. He also admitted that there were times when he didn’t know if he would ever come that day, but he leaned on his faith in moments of doubt.

“There were days where I was like I didn’t know if I wanted to move on,” he said. “But then again, I have to thank Christ. Being able to come back to my faith and say that God has me on this journey with a purpose. I know I was created to play basketball. I was created to give glory to God on this stage.”

Isaac was the first substitute of the night for Orlando, and he checked himself in, something Mosley did intentionally so the crowd could recognize the moment.

Isaac’s first ring of the night didn’t come long after he checked in. When Orlando first walked onto the court, Isaac found himself with the ball in his hands.

He caught it along the bottom line and tried to drive on Boston’s bottom line. jaylen brown. Isaac said that he thought Brown was going to take a charge, but since he didn’t, Isaac misstepped when he tried to get a layup that he couldn’t get into.

On the Magic’s next offensive possession, Isaac was able to bring the shot down, a 13-foot right hand to Brown.

“Thanks to Coach Mose for designing one for me,” Isaac said. “It was really supposed to be a catch and jumper, but they played it right and it was just me and Jaylen. So I said do something and I was able to get to my spin. I really like that shot. When it went down I was like, ‘Thank you.’ Just get that out of the way.”

Isaac’s first stage lasted just under 4 and a half minutes. In addition to the jumper on Brown, he added a layup, but he was only 2-for-5 from the floor.

He admitted that fatigue was a problem at first.

“That kind of first breath hit me. At the last minute I could barely speak, I was breathing so hard,” Isaac said. “But the second rotation in the second half, those four minutes, I started to relax and feel good.”

There was a noticeable difference in the second half when Isaac returned. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and had two steals, including one in which he passed to paolo banchero for a slam on his last play of the night. He was out for good with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter.

“I thought it was cool,” Mosley said. “I think he did a great job playing with a level of poise. I think that was the importance of him getting the G League time. Obviously there was a lot of emotion and rightly so. I thought it was great the way he handled the same.”

Mosley and Isaac shared a pregame moment. Mosley sat at the end of the Magic bench and called out to Isaac as he walked off the court. The two had a quick conversation, during which Mosley expressed how happy he was to see Isaac back.

Before playing two games in the Orlando bubble, Isaac hadn’t played since Jan. 1. on January 1, 2020, when he sprained the same left knee. His last game at the Amway Center was on December 30, 2019, when he had 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The only Magic teammates still on the team who played in that game were marelle fultz, terrence ross Y mo bamba. Neither Ross nor Bamba saw minutes on Monday against Boston.

“Tonight could have gone any number of ways and for it to have gone the way it did, I appreciate it for it. So there’s peace, a relief, so let’s move on.”

jonathan isaac

cole antoniowho spent some time on the court with Isaac on Monday, said he was very happy to see Isaac back on the court after watching him off the bench during his first 2 1/2 seasons with the team.

“Being gone that long can definitely be frustrating, and I know he probably felt like he could have come back sooner,” Anthony said. “But he’s been a great support for the team as a whole. He watches all our games, he only hits us when we played well. He hits me when I’ve played poorly trying to cheer myself up. Overall, it’s a great scorer.” room guy and a pleasure to have as a teammate.”

Anthony said he had played with Isaac before, so it was nice to share an NBA court with him.

Magical Sophomore Forward Franz Wagner he has his locker next to Isaac’s and knows how much Monday night meant to his teammate. He, too, was excited about what a healthy Isaac could do to advance the young Magic team.

“I think even without some of the guys, I think we found some of our identity,” Wagner told ESPN. “I think our goal for the season should be to keep working on that. We have new rotations, we have to solve all that. But we have so much talent and so much size at every position.

“But most importantly, we have great guys. Everyone cares about the right things. You saw it today when [Isaac] subtitled in We all want to see the next winner”.

When Isaac retired from the game for good in the third quarter, he briefly disappeared from the bench. When he returned, he sat on the bench and continued to cheer on his teammates.

When the night ended, his companions doused him with water.

“Relief and peace,” Isaac said when asked how he felt after his time on the court ended. “Peace like, ‘God, you’ve got me.’ I appreciate that. He really is faithful. I just want to thank him. Because tonight could have gone any number of ways and for it to have gone the way it did, I appreciate him for it. So that there’s a peace, a relief in it, so let’s move on.”

By sbavh

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