After a five-game layoff due to what the team called a "mild concussion," Nikola Vučević returned to the Orlando Magic's lineup for Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks. In 39 minutes, Vučević scored 17 points--tied for the second-best on the team--and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds, with two steals and a block as Orlando fell, 97-88. The loss was Orlando's 10th straight in the all-time series with the Hawks, and it prevented the Magic from winning consecutive games for the first time since December.
But Vučević's strong return had to come as good news for Orlando despite the loss. "I just wanted to get through that first wind and after that I knew that I would be fine," Vucecic said of his return, according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. "I did a couple of good workouts the past few days and I just wanted to get past that first wind. I fought through that and it was easy after that."
Vučević shot just 7-of-17 from the floor, but his putback baskets nonetheless bailed out the Magic offensively; 26 of the Magic's 88 points were of the second-chance variety, and Vučević's scoring and five offensive boards helped in that regard. Orlando shot 39.1 percent from the floor against a Hawks defense which clogged the paint, in part to take away driving lanes from Magic forward Tobias Harris.
"I hadn't played for the last week, but I didn't feel rusty and I actually felt good out there," Vučević said.
Orlando's five-game roadtrip continues Monday when the Magic visit the Houston Rockets.