Isaiah Thomas made the most of his return to the NBA, even if the outcome of the game wasn’t what the Lakers had planned.

The 32-year-old’s comeback career began last week when he signed a contract with Denver Nuggets’ Grand Rapids Gold team, proving he still belongs to the NBA. It didn’t take long for him to get the recognition he was looking for, earning 42 points in his G League debut on Thursday to notify scouts, coaches, executives and players.

Just a day later, in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak decimating more than a handful of NBA rosters, it was reported that Thomas would sign the reduced Lakers to a 10-day hardship contract, giving him the chance he deserved to try and return to the league.

More: What is a 10-day hardship contract?

His way into playtime had a slight hit when star guard Russell Westbrook was reactivated just a day after he was put on the COVID-19 roster due to negative tests, but as it turns out, Thomas still sees more than enough minutes to show what he’s capable of in a reduced role. .

For more information on the two-time All-Star return to the NBA, we’ve got you covered below.

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How did Isaiah Thomas play in his debut in the Lakers?

Although the Lakers were defeated by the Timberwolves, Thomas still felt his impact.

In 22 minutes off the bench, Thomas went to 19 points, hit 5 from 12 from the field, 2 for 6 from the 3 point range and 7 for 9 from the free throw line.

According to StatMuseOnly Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk have scored more points in a single game off the bench for the Lakers this season.

The biggest difference in this version of IT 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 healthier since he had fully recovered from a devastating groin injury, he quickly took his first step, driving to the basket more often rather than just jumping outside.

His first bucket was a float in the fairway—a crucial shot in the arsenal for a 5-foot-9 goalkeeper—and he dropped a few of those overnight.

His nine free throw attempts were his most in a game since December 19, 2019 with The Wizards, proving that he’s back to attacking the edge like his All-Star days.

In this 10-day contract, Thomas’ mission is to eat bench minutes and be a professional scorer. He also scored in two boards, one pass and one “block” (which was really tape stealing), scoring +/- from 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 floor, and even better to see that he merged as if he never left.

What did Isaiah Thomas say in his first appearance in the Lakers?

It’s been a long journey back to the league for the former All-NBA goalkeeper and after the game, he provided some heartfelt and insightful quotes upon his return.

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNThomas stated, “My bad moments weren’t just not being able to play at the level I used to play at. Like, it was so frustrating when your mind tells you to do something but your body won’t let you do it.”

“That was my first major injury so it was like basketball is everything to me so it really kept me from being who I am… Those were some of the depressing moments of my life.”

Thomas continued, “Obviously, at 17 my sister passed away and then it felt like everything went downhill. But I put in my own support system, which is my family.”

“The most beautiful moment for me? When I went into the match 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 the determination I feel I am on.”

“This whole situation, I’m so grateful for that. I never thought I would… Not saying I didn’t think I was going back to the NBA, I never thought I’d feel that way again. Like, I don’t have restrictions with my body, With my hips, which is why I smile so much because I’m just in a great place mentally and a great place physically.”

Thomas and the Lakers return to games on Sunday, December 19 against the Chicago Bulls.

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