Green appears to have found his way

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Green appears to have found his way

NEWARK, N.J. Gerald Green saunters into the New Jersey Nets locker room, squeezing his svelte, muscular frame in between teammates Shelden Williams and Jordan Williams.

The image is a fitting one for Green, who has indeed carved out a spot for himself inside a Nets locker room that's likely to look radically different a year from now.

To see him in any NBA locker room, regardless of how good or bad they are, is a major step forward for a ridiculously gifted athletic wing man who has been out of the NBA for three years.

Unless you were around him when he arrived like a bolt of lightning straight out of high school, you can't possibly understand or appreciate how far he has come.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers can.

"I am so proud of him; about as proud of him as I am of any guy," Rivers said. "He just needed time to grow up; not just as a player. I thought he was a pretty good player when he walked into the league. He had a lot to work on basketball-wise, but he just had to figure out things in life."

Part of figuring out life is to make mistakes, but gain enough wisdom not to repeat them.

Green admits when he came into the NBA, he was hard-headed and didn't latch on to the lessons that Rivers wanted to teach him.

So the C's cut him loose, a similar fate that would follow him with short-lived stints in Dallas, Minnesota and Houston.

When the Celtics played the Nets earlier this year in Boston, Rivers had a chance to sit down and talk with Green.

"The first thing he told me is, 'if I would have listened to all the things you and your staff was telling me and put it into play, I would probably still be here,'" Rivers recalled.

Rivers, always one with a quick-witted response, told him, "'no, we would have traded you. We needed to get Kevin and those guys.' Having said that, he'd probably be an all-star already and I hope someday he is."

If it were to happen, Green would love for it to be as a New Jersey Net.

He certainly delivered a solid performance in Boston's 94-82 win over New Jersey, as he led the Nets with 15 points off the bench.

"The Nets gave me the opportunity of a lifetime," Green said. "I really can't thank the Nets enough for how much they've done for me, as far as giving me an opportunity and signing me for the rest of the year; giving me my first shot in three years that I've been dying to have. If it wasn't for this organization, I probably wouldn't be here here doing this interview with you."

And this summer, Green's play has catapulted into the being one of the more sought-after free agents.

He wouldn't rule out a return to Boston, but it's clear that his preference - for now at least - is returning to New Jersey.

"This is my home," Green said. "They're the ones that got me out of the dumpster. So I'm not really trying to go anywhere. I'm not I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about finishing out the season with the Nets and be back here next year."

Whether he's with Boston, New Jersey or another team, Rivers enjoys the fact that Green appears to have finally found his way.

"The great thing about Gerald is he was never a bad kid," Rivers said. "We had a bad team back then; we didn't have bad kids. We just had a lot of kids. It's good from a coaching standpoint when you see any of them do well, but Gerald in particular because he was a good kid. He just needed to open himself up and let people in. I think he's done that."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."