PORTLAND, Ore. – Although Mike Muscala only played eight minutes and didn’t score a point, it was a big night for him.
Muscala played in his first NBA game since Nov. 3 after suffering an ankle injury in the first few weeks of the season. After a few stints in the G League, Muscala was available for the first time since then.
Even though the Hawks were down by 20-plus points when he entered the game, he felt the jitters again and it was a welcome feeling to be back under the bright lights.
“It felt really good,” Muscala said of his first game back where he grabbed two rebounds. “I kind of got a little jitters before when I was going to go back in. But it was good to feel that again, I missed that feeling.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was especially happy for Muscala.
“Especially with Mike Muscala, who hasn’t been able to play in NBA game for, I don’t know, it feels like a long time for him to get to play.”
While Muscala didn’t get to play in an NBA game, he did play three games in the G League for the Erie Bay Hawks. He averaged 17 minutes a game, which he credits for helping him get right and helping build confidence in the strength of his ankle.
“Just got to take it day by day,” Muscala said. “The ankle is feeling really good recently. I got a chance to test it in the G League which was important for me. I’ve got confidence in it now. It was a curve, if you will, but I’m feeling good now.”
While the Hawks lost their eighth straight road game, it was still a worthwhile night for them and especially Muscala. While it’s been a tough season, Budenholzer hasn’t wasted a minute.
“You don’t want to be in that situation, but you’ve got to find a way to take advantage of all 48 (minutes).”