BOSTON (CBS) — Despite not seeing much of the floor since re-joining the team that originally drafted him, Gerald Green has stayed ready.
So when the Celtics needed a boost off the bench Tuesday night against Memphis, Green was up to the challenge. He scored a season-high 19 points, hitting seven of his 10 shots, and was treated to a standing ovation from the TD Garden fans when he came off the floor in the fourth quarter.
“I never had a standing ovation before, I don’t think,” Green told reporters after Boston’s 113-103 win. “For me to have one at this day and age of my career, that was something special for me.”
The 30-year-old, the eldest member of the Celtics, has had a tough time cracking the Brad Stevens’ lineup this season. He was behind when the season started after battled injuries in training camp, and after appearing in each of Boston’s first eight games, he logged 17 DNPs over their next 23 contests. When he did hit the hardwood it wasn’t for very long, playing just 18 minutes from November 19 to December 23.
But an eight-point, 12-minute effort against the Knicks on Christmas Day opened the door, and floodgates, for Green to shine on Tuesday night. He looked like his teenage self, the one the Celtics drafted 18th overall back in 2005, attacking the hoop and firing off a smooth jumper. He scored 10 of his 19 points in the first half, providing the C’s with the boost of energy off the bench they’ve been searching for for much of the season.
His highlight of the night came on an Isaiah Thomas missed three, as Green corralled the offensive board (one of three he pulled down on the evening), dribbled through a defender back to the three-point line and drained the triple. The bucket gave Boston a 43-32 lead.
Thomas, who was Green’s teammate for a season in Phoenix, knows what the veteran can bring to the floor.
“He’s one of the best scorers I’ve seen in the NBA. Whether it be practice or games, it only takes one shot for him to feel like he’s on fire,” said Thomas, who had 20 points of his own on Tuesday. “He can help us, really. Coach is pointing in his direction, and he took advantage of his opportunity the last few games that he’s played.
“What he did today, that’s what he does,” added Thomas. “I mean, he comes off the bench and gives a spark, and he gives us energy.”
Stevens has seen a more confident Green in the last few weeks, making it an easier decision to go to him off the pine.
“I think he’s more comfortable in how we’re trying to play on both ends of the court,” Stevens said Tuesday. “He brought great energy, and we needed every one of his 19 points.”
Green is happy he’s not the one divvying up all the minutes, and will continue to work hard to make an impact even if it doesn’t come on the floor during games. He knows that if he can continue to be that spark off the bench, those minutes will come.
He’ll be ready either way, if it’s giving a jolt of energy off the bench or a helpful voice on it.
“I think [Stevens] kind of knows I’ll be ready,” said Green. “I’m always kind of talking to the team. It’s kind of like, I just have to do whatever I’m telling the team. I’m just trying to stay ready. I know it’s a tough time because there are a lot of people on this team that can play, so there’s always going to be someone who is unhappy. You know what I mean? You have to try to stay locked in, try to stay motivated and try to stay ready.
“Right now, the most important thing is that we’re winning games,” he added, with the C’s winners of six or their last seven. “Whatever rotation that he throws out there and keeps getting better as a unit and team, that’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter who plays or not.”