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How Donatas Motiejunas played in his first game since back injury

Motiejunas gets his first game action after eight months

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Did you hear that?

That sound you heard was the fans screaming and cheering for the return of Donatas Motiejunas. Saturday night with the Kings in town, at the around the five-minute mark in the first quarter, Motiejunas checked in for the first time in months.

The journey, the rehab, and the wait was finally over.

"It was a long eight months for me," Motiejunas told reporters after the game. "I didn't really have any practices or workouts 5-on-5 until today, it was shocking everything was so fast on the floor."

The return of Motiejunas was met with mixed results, which was to be excepted after such a long absence.

"I don't think it was really good," Motiejunas said of his performance Saturday night, "I cleaned the floor a little bit, it was what it was, I tried my best."

On the offensive end, you could tell Motiejunas was out for so long. He had a couple of turnovers, fumbled the ball a little and missed some shots that he easily would have made last year. But on the defensive end, it was almost like he had been there the whole time. Motiejunas drew a charge, made his rotations and filled the lane.

"You know how they say: if the offense doesn't go, (if) you can't find your opportunity on offense, then you have to play defense. That's one thing I had to do, hustle on defense," Motiejunas said.

Everything will start coming back to Motiejunas the more he plays. Whether he will continue to stay at the six-minute mark going forward is not something Motiejunas knows.

"Whatever coach feels comfortable to play me at this point he understands I need to do a lot of catchup," Motiejunas said.

Just the other day Jonathan Feigen had a quote from head coach J.B. Bickerstaff that might have you believe he could start stepping it up.

While that was about when D-Mo would return, it is also easy to believe, with not many practices ahead, the best choice is to play him more. The best way to find out if he can do something is see if he can do something.

Could Motiejunas play five or six minutes? Check. Can Motiejunas play seven to ten minutes? We shall see.

However you thought the debut went, it was a welcome sight. The Rockets are getting healthier, as they are starting to hit a little bit of a stride, winning of five of their last six games, Motiejunas can be a big weapon once he becomes a major minute guy again.

"We're all happy to have him back," James Harden said, "once he catches his game, tempo, and his rhythm, he'll fit right in."

There were lots to like in the return and there were a few things you wish you saw but hey, he's back baby!

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