Hornacek on Green: "Gerald's Always the Key"

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For the most part, Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek knows what he’ll get from his key players.

Goran Dragic will do his thing, which includes more than a little bit of everything. Channing Frye will hit threes. Miles Plumlee will rebound and block shots. P.J. Tucker will play defense.

The question mark is Green, though it’s one of the more positive versions of uncertainty you’ll find.

Is that three-pointer the first of many? How hot will he get? How fast? When will he get free for a momentum-swinging dunk?

Yet Hornacek sees even more potential when Green’s game stays somewhere in between dunks and threes, equidistant from cold shooting and heat checks.

When he finds that spot, Hornacek says, is when he and the Suns are the most dangerous.

“For us, Gerald’s always the key,” Hornacek said. “When he plays well and in control, we seem to have a pretty good game.”

There is no debating Green’s game-deciding potential. Phoenix has won the last nine games in which the veteran swingman has scored at least 20 points.

His shooting percentage in those games: 59.8 percent.

A mid-January win over the Lakers might have shown the best of Green’s game. He went off for 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting, but the key was his play inside the arc, where he was scorching 10-for-13. The majority of those shots came from between 12 and 18 feet from the basket, where he feasted on defenders who were close in height, but couldn’t match his elite-level vertical leap.

“He’s able to get turnaround jump shots from the 14, 15-foot range over pretty much any guy in the league with his athletic ability,” Hornacek said. Green struggled briefly after that game, scoring 12 points or less in three of the following four contests.

Hornacek, however, has repeatedly stressed that Green need not hang his head after poor performances. A former shooter himself, the Suns head coach is often heard to say “offense comes and goes.”

It has come again over the last three games. Green is averaging 23 points while shooting a ridiculous 71.4 percent from three-point range in that span. He’s also getting it done on the defensive end (1.3 bpg, 1.0 spg).

The lift both he and the team receive from such performances can’t be measured. Yet in the line of people who want to see even more, Green is at the front. There are times when, during interviews, he is technically talking about the team, but it’s obvious he’s directing his comments to himself.

"We just have to be consistent,” he said after the Suns' home win over the Pacers. “It doesn’t matter if we are playing the first-place team or the last-place team. We still got to just continue to stay humble, continue to work, continue to ask questions from coach about what we need to do offensively. We got to continue to play for each other, too.”