Pacers' Jeremy Lamb Shines in Return from Knee Injury

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - When the Indiana Pacers signed Jeremy Lamb in the summer of 2019, there was much anticipation about his potential impact as the team's sixth-man. His first season with the team was cut short on Feb. 23, 2020. 

Lamb was putting together a truly successful first campaign with the Pacers. He was averaging 12.5 points and 4.3 assists prior to going suffering an apparent left knee injury against the Toronto Raptors. 

It was later confirmed via MRI that Lamb had suffered a torn ACL, a later meniscus tear, and a lateral femoral condylar fracture. 

"Having a big injury and having the game taken away from me was tough," Lamb said.

"I think the toughest part was just trying to stay mentally strong, knowing that I would be able to get back, I would be able to play the game I love again. It's not the end of the road. Getting over that mental hurdle was probably one of the toughest things for me."

Since being sidelined for 11 months, Lamb played in his first NBA game. The Pacers' 124-112 loss to the Dallas Mavericks was his first opportunity to do so, and he certainly did not disappoint. 

There was no shortage of emotions for Lamb prior to checking in for the first time in his first contest back. All of the hard work he had put in over the span of almost a year to get back to game action had paid off. 

"It's been a long process," Lamb said. "I had a lot going through my head. I was nervous, anxious, just wanted to help the team. Just a lot of different emotions, but I was really excited."

The nerves didn't stop Lamb from making almost an immediate impact. He scored 10 points while converting on all four of his field goal attempts. He got it done in multiple ways by completing a drive for a three-point play, knocking down a pull-up jumper, and converting on a catch-and-shoot three. 

Lamb's impact experienced a decline after halftime but he provided a helpful overall performance, nevertheless. His final stat line read 10 points, two rebounds, and two steals while going 4-of-8 (50%) from the field. 

"I think I was more surprised about my wind," he said. "I felt like I wasn't as tired as I thought I was going to be."

My first couple of shots were close to the basket. That definitely helped to give me some confidence."

Lamb's return is a welcomed development for the Pacers as they deal with no shortage of injuries on the perimeter. Caris LeVert and TJ Warren will remain sidelined for the foreseeable future -- making it pivotal to have as many reliable wing players as possible. 

Having Lamb in the mix will give the Pacers the option of eventually integrating him into the starting lineup while LeVert recovers. He can provide a more stable offensive impact than the other options like Edmond Sumner or Aaron Holiday. 

The Pacers will return to action on Friday when they take on the Orlando Magic (7-8) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.