It was the latest game that Green saw significant action off the bench–something that was hard to come by last season. While he’s far from polished, his minutes are notable. It’s taken some time, but Green is finally finding his groove and earning a spot in the rotation.
“I don’t need to score, I feel like, to try to impact the team,” Green said after the game. “So, my whole goal is coming out and playing as hard as I can and get the ball moving.”
Score he did, though. Green connected on four of his five shots in the first half. They came on an isolation that led to a pull-up jumper from the elbow, a drive to the rim and score after a nifty dime from Tim Hardaway Jr., a cutting dunk after a dish from Dorian Finney-Smith, and a corner three after he saved the possession with an offensive rebound.
In the fourth quarter, Green connected on two more field goals. His first came on a beautiful coast-to-coast play. He stole the ball from Josh Christopher and led the fastbreak, leaning in for a shot at the other end, drawing contact, and getting the foul.
HIs second bucket came on a nice offensive rebound tip-in, when the Houston defense left him alone in the paint. It was the final two points Dallas would score. He also sank four of his five free throw attempts on the night.
Green attributes his maturation and growth recently to his increased playing time as well as the help his older teammates provide him. The kinds of plays Green made Friday show he has the skills to compete at the NBA level.
“I’ve seen a lot from him,” Jalen Brunson said. “He’s done amazing things. There’s a little bit more opportunity with him going out there and playing. He’s been able to showcase that.”
Green’ halftime tally of 11 points against the Rockets eclipsed his previous career high of nine. Those points came against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 27, 2021, almost two weeks ago.
It was Green’s first game back after returning from the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. He played over 26 minutes that night, dishing a career-high 10 assists and grabbing four rebounds to go along with his nine points.
Although he wasn’t at the game due to protocols, Tim Hardaway Jr. was watching Green’s performance. He was so excited for his teammate that he couldn’t wait to talk to him.
“I was cheering Josh on from the couch,” Hardaway said. “I had to facetime Doe-Doe [Dorian Finney-Smith] after the game just to get the phone to him so I could tell him how well he played.”
Since returning from protocols, Green is averaging 6.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. He’s also playing over 20 minutes per game in that seven game span. That’s significantly higher than the 10 minutes he averages on the season.
Both Hardaway and Brunson speak highly of Green’s determination and work ethic. Mentally, he’s kept himself ready and embraced the Mavericks’ next-man-up mentality as the team navigates its way through another difficult season.
“This dude works, man,” Brunson said. “He works hard. He believes in himself. Us, as teammates, we believe in him. He deserves all that. The confidence that he gets is from his work ethic. For him to have a performance like his did tonight, I’m not really shocked. I’m not really shocked at all.”