By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Romeo Langford made his long-awaited return to the Celtics on Sunday night. It had been a few months in the making after the second-year guard required offseason wrist surgery, and then a few more weeks in the making when he came down with COVID-19 in March.

Langford played just 12 minutes in Boston’s blowout win over the Hornets, and he won’t be logging any heavy workloads for quite some time after such a lengthy layoff. Sunday’s appearance was his first game since the Eastern Conference Finals last September, and head coach Brad Stevens has made it clear that he’ll be easing Langford back into the Boston lineup.

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But the 21-year-old had an action-packed 12 minutes on Sunday after missing the first 49 games of the season. Langford checked in with two minutes left in the first quarter, and contributed pretty quickly. The former first-round pick drained a three one minute into the second quarter, and on the ensuing trip down the floor, had a nice two-hand rejection when Charlotte’s Miles Bridges went looking for an easy bucket.

Offensive contributions are always welcome, but making some noise on the defensive end is something the Celtics need a lot more of this season. And that’s where Langford tends to shine the most.

“I think it’s just one less guy that our team has to worry about,” Langford said of his defensive impact. “I feel like I’m my best in isolation, not letting my guy go around me. So with that being said, it means the team doesn’t really have to over-help as much and give up more threes when it comes to the guy that I’m checking.”

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The triple was Langford’s only make of the night, as he finished 1-for-4 from the floor. In addition to his defense, he’s known more for his ability to slash to the basket. He’s confident that will show soon enough, saying after the game that he should only need a few more days to get his legs back underneath him and to return to full strength conditioning-wise.

“It felt good to get back out there and get my legs back under me and compete with my teammates. It felt good,” Langford said after Sunday’s win. “I wasn’t too tired. I wasn’t exhausted. It felt good.”

Langford also had a rebound, an assist and a steal against Charlotte.

“Solid,” Stevens said of Langford’s performance. “Obviously, it was nice to have him back on the floor and, after he caught the ball out of bounds on the first catch, I thought he did a lot of good things.”

Langford was set to return after the All-Star break before a positive COVID test delayed his debut. He said Sunday night that he had a pretty bad bout with the virus, which sidelined him for nearly three weeks, and that he can still feel it in his lungs.

“It was pretty bad for when I had the symptoms. I had the symptoms for about four or five days and it hit me pretty hard,” he explained. “I felt like I had a really bad flu and then I ended up losing my taste and smell. I still can’t smell that much. So I wasn’t really allowed to do anything for two and a half weeks.

“So my main thing coming back was just getting my wind and getting my feel for the game and feeling the ball and stuff like that,” he added.

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Langford did just that, and hopefully soon, will be able to have an even bigger impact on games. Staff