Until this season, Gerald Green was just another NBA talent with tons of athleticism and not much else to his name. The Phoenix Suns were his seventh team in as many seasons in the league, he had never started more than 26 games in a season and he had never averaged more than 26 minutes per game. But under Jeff Hornacek, Green not only won over Suns supporters with his high-flying dunks, but also with his ability to heat up in a hurry, his never-back-down attitude and most importantly, the undeniable spark he brought this team. Still, nobody knew that a few months later he’d be the difference keeping the Suns in the Western Conference’s unbelievably brutal playoff race.
In Phoenix’s last three games, Green has done all he can to keep Phoenix on pace with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies for the West’s last two playoff spots. In a disappointing and embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Green was the only one who could’ve walked away from the game and say he did his job with 22 points off the bench. Instead, Green acknowledged it wasn’t enough. He upped his efficiency against the Los Angeles Clippers (5-for-11 from the field) and put up 15 points in nine less minutes than the night before, but the Suns lost yet again.
Against the Portland Trail Blazers, it was enough is enough for Gerald Green. When the Blazers took a three-point lead at the half, Green led the Suns’ rally to finish with a 3-1 record against Portland on the season in what was basically a must-win game to stay even with the Grizzlies and half a game behind Dallas. The Suns trailed 67-57 in the third before going on a 22-13 run in the quarter’s final seven minutes and it’s true that Green played a pretty minimal role in that run. But his scoring barrage to open the fourth, which included scoring eight of the Suns’ opening 10 points in the quarter, gave Phoenix the lead and they never gave it back from then on.
Green went 12-of-20 from the field and when he wasn’t knocking down threes or getting to the line, he was throwing down dunks on passes off the backboard. Green’s “shoot first, shoot again, shoot one more time and ask questions never” life philosophy can be hard to watch at times, but there are nights when it becomes an absolute delight. The last couple of nights, Gerald Green has been in that mode and despite Phoenix’s 1-2 record during that stretch, the Green Machine is doing more than anybody would have ever asked from him a year ago.
Green deserves extra appreciation for being a consistent source of scoring with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris all experience ups and downs in their shooting over the past week. Bledsoe dropped 30 last night on 9-of-17 shooting, but against the Lakers he was a no-show to the tune of 10 points on 1-of-9 shooting. Dragic is shooting 51 percent on the season, but he’s just 15-for-46 from the floor and 3-for-14 from downtown in his last three games. Morris has similarly struggled in his last three (12-for-34), and don’t even get me started on Channing Frye, who is 6-for-26 in his last four games.
So let’s give Gerald Green his much deserved due, Suns fans. With the Super Slash Brothers struggling to stay consistent and stretch-4s Morris and Frye struggling to put the ball in the whole, Green’s underrated ability to constantly one shot away from a heat check has kept the Suns remain competitive in a historically tough Western Conference playoff hunt. (These are words I never thought I’d type, but) Here’s hoping Dragic, Bledsoe and the rest of the Suns can match Green’s focus and scoring with only six games left in the season.