Green Brings Big Air to Brooklyn, Stephenson Returns
The moment came just before the half of Sunday's 97-86 Nets victory, when Kris Humphries turned the ball over to Pacers forward Paul George, who then lofted a fast-break alley-oop that rose and rose until Gerald Green plucked it out of the air with enough time to bring his hands together and dunk on the way down.
Perhaps it wasn’t quite Social Slam of the Year material, but Nets fans had become familiar with the eager anticipation that precedes every fast break set to be finished by Green. Indiana was able to outbid the Nets this offseason, and it’s the Pacers faithful often excited by those effortlessly electric throwdowns.
"You know what?" Green said matter-of-factly, before the game. "It’s a business. You really can’t be too sad about it. I definitely wanted to come back here, but when Indiana came with this opportunity, it was just something I couldn’t pass up."
Green was quick to praise former Nets coach Avery Johnson for providing "the opportunity of a lifetime," allowing him to turn around a career that had the former first-round pick playing for the NBA D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders. In 31 games with the Nets last year, Green averaged 12.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 25.2 minutes, shooting .391 from three-point range and .481 overall.
Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said the Nets were disappointed to watch Green go after bringing an important dimension to last season's team. But under the new collective bargaining agreement, Indiana – coming off a six-game loss to Miami in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals – was able to extend a more lucrative, three-year offer to go with playing time and playoff-readiness.
This year, Green has posted 7.2 points and 2.8 in rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game, shooting .310 from long-range and .357 overall. He has made five starts, and Pacers coach Frank Vogel in his corner.
“I think he’s made the adjustment well, from the standpoint of fitting in,” Vogel said. “He’s well-liked by his teammates. He works extremely hard and he gives great energy. He’d be the first to tell you he’s struggled on the offensive end and knows he can play better and shoot better.
“We’ve had a lot of situations where guys have been in slumps then gotten out of it. I think Gerald Green is right around the corner from experiencing that type of stretch in our season. We’re excited for what he’s doing for us and glad he’s a part of our team.”
Visit the Nets vs. Pacers Game Center for a full recap of Friday's game.
Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, pressed into duty as the team's starting shooting guard with Danny Granger out, was coincidentally assigned the same locker fellow Brooklynite and Lincoln High School graduate Sebastian Telfair used on Friday when visiting with Phoenix. Stephenson, whom coach Frank Vogel praised for maturing and developing a strong work ethic that has led to him becoming the team's most efficient offensive player, spoke with media before Sunday's game: