Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland returned to the court Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons 12 pounds lighter than he was when he left TD Garden in Boston on Dec. 14 thanks to the fractured jaw injury he suffered that night.
“I lost 12 pounds and we’re still trying to get that back,” Garland said. “So yeah, that’s tough.”
Putting on weight and muscle has been a focus for Garland throughout the beginning of his career. Going through over a month of not being able to eat solid food due to having his jaw wired shut hurt this endeavor. This is part of the reason why he felt that this was the worst injury of his career.
“It’s definitely the hardest,” Garland said. “Just not eating. Everybody eats in here and I’m drinking through a straw. Even in Paris, it was just inconvenient bringing a blender on a plane everywhere we go. I had people in Paris bringing out chicken alfredo in a cup. . . It was definitely tough though.”
Naturally, Garland celebrated eating solid food again by getting Chick-fil-A fries and chicken noodle soup.
On the court, Garland looked good in his first game back even though the fully healthy starting five still has some things to work out. He finished with 19 points on 7-12 shooting with three assists.
“He showed, particularly offensively, how easy the game can be for him,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “[He showed] how many different ways he can beat you. I thought he was aggressive, I thought he was quick, tried to mix his game up. He tried to get as many threes as he could get with six in 20 minutes, which I think is a good start for him.”
The Cavs have a nice runway to work Garland and Evan Mobley back into the rotation. Six of their eight games before the All-Star break are against teams with losing records. This, and the practices afforded from the break, should give Bickerstaff some wiggle room as he tries to get this tea back up to speed.
Garland, however, is just happy to be back on the court.
“It was long overdue,” Garland said. “It was definitely a long process with all the stuff that I’ve been through this last month. It was definitely tough. But it’s good to be back out there with the guys. Just to share the floor with them was great.”