Marvin Bagley celebrated his 20th birthday by returning to the court for the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.
The No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft had sat out nearly two weeks of action with a left knee sprain, but he didn't look like he had missed a beat against the Boston Celtics.
"I thought he fought and he ran the floor, he rebounded and [we were] just trying to find a rhythm for him there," coach Dave Joerger told reporters following the Kings' 126-120 loss.
Bagley entered the game in with a little less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter and made an immediate impact. He got to the line for four free throws and buried a 3-pointer from the baseline before the quarter could end.
"He came out really aggressive, played really well in the first quarter, he's just getting his wind back," De'Aaron Fox told reporters. "I think it's always great to have another guy that you know where he wants it. He can score the ball in the post. He's shooting the ball a lot better than a the beginning of the season."
He took that same approach to the second quarter, finishing the first half with 10 points and four rebounds.
The game turned into a track meet after the break. Bagley missed a couple of shots in the third quarter as he tried to keep up with the pace of the game
Bagley tallied 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and chipped in six rebounds for the game. His coach said that he showed "flashes" in his first game back.
It sounds as if Bagley is available to play on the second night of a back-to-back when the Kings take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday evening at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I look forward to seeing him again tomorrow night and going forward," Joerger said.
Sacramento took a cautious approach to Bagley's recovery last time he injured his knee and they will likely do the same this time around. He was limited to just 19 minutes in Boston. He might see a slight uptick in Philly, but don't plan on seeing him on the floor for anywhere near 30 minutes just yet.