Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz returned to the floor on Monday against the Indiana Pacers, finishing with 10 points in his first game in 14 months. Orlando prevailed 119-103 thanks to a 21-point, 12-rebound performance from Wendell Carter Jr.
Fultz, 23, was been cleared to return after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee on Jan. 6, 2021.
“It wasn’t like I was out there thinking too much,” said Fultz, who also had six assists in his first game since tearing his left ACL nearly 14 months ago. “My goal was just to go out and play as hard as I can and enjoy the game. With the energy of the crowd and everything, and the adrenaline running, it was great to get the first game under my belt.”
Markelle Fultz in his return:
16 MIN #F2G 😈 pic.twitter.com/X3IVs0i0vJ
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) March 1, 2022
Fultz played 16 minutes, and shot 5 for 7 from the field before leaving the game with the Magic up by 16 points in the middle of the fourth quarter.
“It was very easy for me to come in and be relaxed, and be myself,” he said.
“The stuff I’ve seen him do in the past, when he was healthy, I was excited just to be on the court with him,” Carter said. “This was a special one for me and a special one for him. When he gets his legs underneath him a little more, this team is going to be a whole lot better.”
Fultz’s last start for the Magic was on Jan. 6, 2021. He played four minutes in a win against Cleveland that left Orlando with a 6-2 record. The Magic went 15-49 in the remainder of the season, and none of the other starters from that game are still on the roster.
“I’m just blessed just to be able to, one, be where I am today after going through an injury like this and being able to fight and just be back on the court with my brothers and friends,” Fultz said on the Orlando Magic Pod Squad. “So, one, I’m just blessed and I’m thankful for the process and the journey that I’ve been through. I’m very excited just to get out there with my teammates and go out there and compete.”
Magic coach Jamahl Mosley estimated Fultz will play 16-20 minutes per game, but “we’ll see how he feels as he goes through the games.”
The University of Washington product spent two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers before being dealt to Orlando. He has averaged 10.9 points and 4.6 assists across 113 career games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.