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Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz scores 10 in long-awaited return

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz scores 10 in long-awaited return
Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz (20), shown Dec. 11, 2020, had been out of the lineup since tearing his left ACL in January 2021. File Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Magic guard Markelle Fultz made his long-awaited return Monday night against the Pacers and notched 10 points and six assists over 16 minutes in Orlando's 119-103 win over Indiana.

Fultz, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Washington, had been out of the lineup since tearing his left ACL during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in January 2021.

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The 23-year-old Fultz returned to practice in December and made enough progress to return Monday, playing well before exiting the game with Orlando leading comfortably in the middle of the fourth quarter.

"It wasn't like I was out there thinking too much," Fultz told reporters after the game. "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."

Fultz signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension with the Magic in December 2020. He was averaging a career-high 12.9 points and 5.4 assists before the major knee injury.

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"It was very easy for me to come in and be relaxed, and be myself," Fultz said.

Across 113 career games (83 starts) for the Philadelphia 76ers and Magic, Fultz has averaged 10.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds.

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