April 2, 2016
To say Miami Heat swingman Gerald Green had a bunch of pent-up energy, emotion and even anger as he erupted for season-high 30 points Friday night would be an understatement.
The part of his postgame interview not televised after the 112-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena told the rest of the story.
"I'm just trying to be ready, man," Green opened up with, in a passionate tone after filling in for a sidelined Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup.
And then came a release every bit as dynamic as those seven consecutive shots he made at the start of Friday's game.
"You know, man," he said in a voice nearly as loud as the commotion elsewhere in the locker room as teammates watched the conclusion of the Boston Celtics' victory over the Golden State Warriors. "I read all those comments, motherf------ be talking about me. I just use that s--- as motivation, man. Like the last two months, man, the media been killing me.
"So every day, I go to the gym at night, I run, I read y'all comments, and go back to the gym, read y'all comments, go right back to the gym. So I'm just motivated. My teammates motivate me. So I'm just doing whatever I can to just keep myself together."
The emotion was real, just as real as when Green picked up what could have been a disastrous technical foul with 2:18 to play that allowed what been a 24-point Heat lead to shrink to one.
While Green took only one shot in going scoreless in that fourth quarter, there still was enough confidence to have him on the floor for four minutes during the period.
With Wade dealing with a sore neck and back after a hard tumble in Wednesday's overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, when the Heat blew a 15-point lead, Green made the most of his opportunity.
"Obviously," Green said as the Heat turned their attention to Saturday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center, "everybody was disappointed about that Lakers loss, so we came in with a huge sense of urgency, 'We've got to get this. We've got to get this.' "
To put Green's Saturday performance in perspective, consider that, according to Elias Sports Bureau, prior to shooting 6-of-6 in Friday's first quarter, Green entered the night shooting .333 in the first quarter of games, fourth-lowest among players with at least 100 first-quarter shots this season, ahead of only Isaiah Canaan (.293), Kobe Bryant (.330) and Wesley Matthews (.332).
Having been on the outs since the Heat acquired Joe Johnson at the buyout deadline, Green said he found an ease of comfort starting alongside Johnson and point guard Goran Dragic.
"Everything was flowing," he said. "Playing with Joe, Joe was getting me going. Goran was getting me open, finding me when I was open. I mean, for me, it was just knocking down easy shots wide open.
"I hadn't really been playing that well, obviously, but it was good to just see some shots go in, but even better for us to win."
Coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward he could appreciate Green's pent-up energy and emotion.
"I love it, because he's done it with great work and purity," Spoelstra said. "Every single night, he's in there working after games, staying ready, staying in shape. He's the first guy on the floor before practice, the last guy to leave, staying sharp.
"And that's how quick things can change. I mentioned that to him three weeks ago, that he's the next guy, that means ... you're ... the ... next ... guy. It can happen at any time and you have to be ready for that opportunity. So you're happy to see him really step up."
Prior to Friday's 11-of-19, Green had not reached 20 points since his 21 in an emotional return against the Phoenix Suns, the team that allowed him to depart in free agency last summer.
"Gerald came in, he was ready," center Hassan Whiteside said. "He'd been working on his game. He hadn't been playing, but he stayed with it."
On a night when he was needed most, an exclamation point was offered well before the expletives.
"He played great," forward Luol Deng said. "We all know Gerald can score. He stayed ready. He stepped right in and he was ready for the challenge."