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'He's being Jeff': Rockets forward Jeff Green delivers off bench against OKC Thunder

Jeff Green caught the basketball at the top of the key, dribbled to his right and suddenly dribbled behind his back to the left.

Oklahoma City’s Danilo Gallinari was left watching as Green made a left-handed layup over Mike Muscala.

It was late in the fourth quarter, serving as the exclamation point of Houston’s 123-108 rout over the Thunder in the opening game of the playoffs.

On a night the Rockets rolled despite being short-handed, Green made sure OKC remembered he can still resemble the young forward who grew up with the Thunder in the organization’s early days.

“I’ve been knowing Jeff since I was a rookie, as far as being a teammate, so I know that he’s capable of,” Houston star James Harden said. “He’s being Jeff. He’s confident. He’s making plays off the dribble, defensively he’s guarding 1 through 5, he’s being a playmaker, getting guys shots.

“He’s doing things that he’s been doing his entire career.”

Green scored 22 points, making 8 of 12 shots while grabbing six rebounds and totaling four assists off the bench. He provided a huge spark for the short-handed Rockets, who were without star Russell Westbrook due to a strained right quadriceps. 

Houston’s bench was key, out-scoring OKC’s 42-27. Ben McLemore pitched in 14 points, making 4 of 7 3-pointers. 

“It’s good,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said about the bench. “When Russell gets back, we’ll have an even deeper bench.”

Green handled point guard duties at times. He made 3 of 7 3-pointers. He often combined with Harden on a dangerous pick-and-roll.

Not bad for a 33-year-old, 13-year veteran who has played for nine different teams. He opened the season with Utah before getting waived. He signed with the Rockets in February after joining the organization on a 10-day contract.

Green said he’s just trying to impact the game in whatever way is needed. He saw an opportunity to do that in Houston.

Tuesday night, he delivered.

“It’s going to be tough for teams to match up with us because of our personnel,” Green said. “If we’re getting stops and we’re getting out in transition, I know we have the firepower to score on the opposite end.

“That's what I saw when I got the call and that’s what I was looking forward to, just being a part of something bigger than myself.”

Related Photos
Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets forward Jeff Green (32) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Mike Muscala (33) in the second half in game one of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets forward Jeff Green (32) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Mike Muscala (33) in the second half in game one of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7b98df86d010f0bc9c3e0553429b0c79.jpg" alt="Photo - Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets forward Jeff Green (32) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Mike Muscala (33) in the second half in game one of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports" title="Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets forward Jeff Green (32) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Mike Muscala (33) in the second half in game one of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports"><figcaption>Aug 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets forward Jeff Green (32) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Mike Muscala (33) in the second half in game one of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at The Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports</figcaption></figure>
Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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