Gerald Green: Suns Going Green For Help On Offense?

Mar 27, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green (14) reacts after making a three point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green (14) reacts after making a three point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Phoenix Suns are 0-2 in their last two games and have fallen 3.5 games out of the race for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. With the team clinging to their playoff hopes and facing a brutal remaining schedule, head coach Jeff Hornacek has recently turned to a familiar face to try and find a spark for Phoenix’s suddenly woeful offense — Gerald Green.

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With the Suns trailing by 13 at the start of the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings, Hornacek went to Green as a last resort to try and inject some life into the crowd and, more importantly, put the ball into the basket.

It worked, with mixed results.

Green committed a turnover and a foul in his first 1:27 in the game, but a few possessions later knocked down a 17-footer to cut the deficit to 11. Another midrange jumper 30 seconds later cut Sacramento’s lead to nine and sent Green into full-on berserker mode, firing up the US Airways Center crowd that had little to cheer for through the first three quarters.

Unfortunately, Green got so worked up by his 2-for-2 start that the last-ditch effort ended up backfiring; Green committed a dumb foul on the next possession because he was so amped up and proceeded to miss his next three ill-advised shots. He also made a few defensive mistakes that helped the Kings put the game away and despite his infamous stank face getting the fans riled up, it was all to no avail in the end.

Against the Portland Trail Blazers last night, Hornacek didn’t wait very long to resort to his spark plug off the bench, bypassing T.J. Warren entirely as Green checked into the game in the second quarter. Once again, the results were mixed.

With the Suns trailing by nine, Green’s insertion into the lineup sparked a 15-6 run to close the half, knotting the score at 47. Green had eight points during that span, but also committed two turnovers, made a few defensive errors and shot 2-for-6 from the field.

Green finished his night with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting in 13 minutes. He also added five rebounds and made two of his four three-point attempts. Unfortunately, it was LaMarcus Aldridge‘s heat check in the fourth quarter that ultimately decided the game.

On a night where the Suns shot 36.8 percent from the floor and 30.0 percent from three-point range, Hornacek’s rationale for sticking him into the game was pretty clear.

“Shooting, we needed more shooting in there,” he said. “We’re not making shots. Our shooting percentage has been horrible since the All-Star break. Wanted to see if we could get some shooting. Gerald made some shots for us.”

Since All-Star Weekend, the Suns are shooting 43.7 percent from the floor (21st in the NBA) and 30.4 percent from three-point range (29th). They’re still scoring 103.9 points per 100 possessions in that span (12th), but this was once one of the NBA’s top five offenses.

With the shots not falling and the Suns still technically in the playoff race, Hornacek has turned to Green for help. If even the good shots aren’t going down, why not resort to Green’s prototypical bad ones that sometimes ignite a heat check and at least draw a reaction from the crowd?

If the gap between the Suns and eighth place in the West widens over the next few games, Green more than likely won’t be taking minutes away from Warren or Archie Goodwin. Phoenix also only has three home games remaining, so even if they’re in the playoff hunt, Green’s penchant for taking and making bad shots to amp up the crowd won’t be of much use on the road.

However, no matter your standing on Green getting minutes over Warren, G-Air-ld’s professionalism through all this has been exemplary. He’s been the first one off the bench to encourage his teammates over the last few weeks — a trying time for a guy who had a career year last season and has suddenly registered seven “DNP – CD”s since Jan. 30.

And yet, he’s stayed ready on the sidelines without resentment or complaint.

“Honestly I’m not even worried about it because the next game I might not play,” he said. “I’m just preparing myself like I’m going to play and if I do, I’m just going to try and be ready and if I don’t, I’m just going to encourage my teammates to go out there and give it all they got.

“You know what? We’re still in the fight. I know it kind of looks like a long shot, but hey, we’re still in it. So until it’s 0.00 on the clock of our season, until the season is completely over, I think we’re just going to keep having faith and keep believing in each other and keep trying to fight.”

When he’s gotten his opportunity to do what he does over the last two games, Gerald Green has taken advantage of it. He’s almost played too hard, trying to prove he belongs on the floor and therefore, making mental mistakes on the defensive end. His heat checks haven’t helped the Suns rack up wins and the understandable rust on his shot is apparent.

But with the Suns floundering on the offensive end after finally finding their stride on defense, Hornacek may resort to Green once again in the next few games.

“I think we are doing a good job of trying to emphasize defense and try to help each other out and try to make it difficult for them to score,” Green said. “But, the name of the game is put the ball in the hole. We just got to try and find offense somewhere these next two games.”

At the very least, he’ll represent the spirit of the team in not going down without a fight.

Next: Steve Nash: Top 10 Moments With The Phoenix Suns

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