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Former Green Potential Shines At High Altitude

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A Daily Babble Production

Kevin Calabro, doing play-by-play for ESPN on Friday night, called him "just untapped potential who needs a home."

Fortunately for any in the audience that didn't watch a lot of the 2006-07 Celtics or the 2007-08 Timberwolves, analyst  Hubie Brown jumped in to note, "The coaching staff would like him to be more cerebral."

Approximately eight days a week, it would be Brown's modestly understated analysis that would do it for me as far as one Gerald Green is concerned.

But for one quarter in Denver last night, Green gave us a shimmering glimpse of the player he has the physical skills to be.

Not only was the Celtics' former first-rounder playing meaningful minutes for a Western playoff contender just five games into the season, but he played so well in his time on the floor that he got the opportunity to take the last shot in a three-point game.  It didn't go in (and thanks to the fact that there were only fourth-tenths of a second remaining when the ball was inbounded, it might not have counted if it did), but the fact that Green was even on the floor and had the trust of his team for that shot was a testament to the sort of night he had.

Included in Green's 15 minutes played were the 12 minutes that comprised the entirety of the game's final quarter. That's because he was primarily responsible for keeping the Mavs in the game at the beginning of that period.  With the Mavs trailing by five points with nine and a half minutes to play, Green spent the next 42 seconds putting Dallas in the lead, courtesy of his own personal eight-point run. 

It began with a huge tomahawk slam off a feed from Jason Kidd on the fast break.  After two free throws from Denver's Dahntay Jones, Green had his layup blocked out of bounds by Chris Andersen, but he responded by banging an open trey with that sweet righty stroke of his.  A play later, he pulled up from 11 feet and canned a jumper while taking a shot on the arm from Andersen.  And one.  Mavs 85, Nuggets 84.

The lead would be short-lived, and the Mavs wound up falling to the Nuggets in Chauncey Billups' homecoming.  But Green would can another trey and attack the rim hard for another lay-up to finish with 13 points when all was said and done, every one of them coming in the fourth quarter. 

Sure, he still had the classic Gerald Green shot-happiness, but it seemed to be a more selective version of that trait.  Though he took nine shots in his 15 minutes, nearly all of them came off of good looks at the bucket, and he shot an effective 5-for-9, including 2-for-5 from deep.  On several occasions, Green stopped short of taking contested shots he would have heaved up during his earlier days and pulled the ball out and distributed it to reset the offense.

He used that insane explosiveness to get to the rim.  He showed off that fluid shooting stroke, complete with his long follow-through.  He did it all without the nonsense.  No forced shots.  No dribbling into triple-teams.  No turnovers.

I'm still far from sold that Gerald Green is anywhere near being a solid rotation player in this league.  But for one well-played quarter in a losing effort, he showed us what he can be when he works to put his assets together.  And it wasn't a half-bad sight to see.