On Friday night against the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton appeared in his first game back since December 23rd after missing 11 straight games with an injury, then a 12th after getting snowed in. He scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his return. After the game, he answered some questions from the media in the locker room.
The full video can be found here or in the embed below. Here are some of the key quotes from Ayton.
On rust coming back:
Them games like that frustrate me. Because coming back, I’m working so hard to get back. And in practice, playing that five-on-oh, and it looks good shooting over nobody. Then you have someone in your face, you gotta elevate your shot a little more. Then the fatigue kicks in, and the mental stamina kicks in as well.
And me coming back against the number one pace team in the world. A lack of oxygen coming to the brain, and all that stuff kicked in. My teammates had me, just talking me through. And the coaching staff had my back, trying to protect me in ways.
On trouble with conditioning upon his return, or just getting back in the swing:
It’s just more finding my rhythm. I come back well-winded, ready to run up and down however long coach wants me to play for. It's just rhythm of the game. Coach might implement new things where we have new reads, or things like that, where I might forget it sometimes. Just the rhythm of the game and how fast we play.
On the shape of his knee:
The knee is perfect. I’ve been doing treatment on that the whole time as well.
Ayton is expected to play again when the Blazers face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday evening with a 7:00 PM, Pacific start time.