- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Did. You. See. G.G.?!
If not, you must.
Because with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter of Saturday night’s 112-106 loss to the Rockets, Nets small forward Gerald Green brought the house down, defying the laws of gravity, cocking the ball back and nearly hitting his head on the rim before finishing off an emphatic how-the-heck-did-he-do-that? windmill alley-oop dunk from shooting guard MarShon Brooks that had the entire building buzzing.
“I’ve seen a lot of dunks in my career -- and that was special,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said.
“That was probably the best dunk I’ve ever seen in my life,” shooting guard Anthony Morrow said.
“Unbelievable,” injured center Brook Lopez said.
Agreed. Agreed. And agreed.
“I’ve done that [dunk] plenty of times,” said Green, the 2007 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, who finished with a season-high 26 points. “I’ve done it like if I’m messing around in pre-game warmups, or maybe in layup lines. A teammate [DeShawn Stevenson] asked me, ‘Next time you get a chance to do dunk, do something nasty,’ so I tried.
“I’m just glad it went in, because if it didn’t, I [didn’t] know where [I’d] be.”
Houston was ahead 77-73 when center Johan Petro grabbed a rebound and threw the ball up court to a streaking Brooks, who was on a 2-on-1 fastbreak with Green.
From there, the impossible happened.
“Once I [saw] him and he pointed up, it’s just my job to put it up there by the rim,” said Brooks, who finished with a career-high seven assists to go along with 23 points. “I don’t think it mattered where I put the ball -- he was going to get it anyway. And I threw it, I guess, low enough for him to have some fun with it. It was a great play.”
Green didn’t even realize how high he jumped.
“I don’t get that high,” he said.
Umm ... Yeah ... You do!
“It ain’t like that. I don’t see it,” Green said. “A lot of my teammates say so -- I don’t see it. I’m always looking at the ball and making sure it goes in. I’m not looking at where I’m at or what level I’m at in height. I’ve hit my head on the rim a couple number of times, back in high school.”
No big deal or anything ...
“I caught it and I was thinking, ‘I’m high enough where I can just kind of windmill it,’” Green said.
The Nets haven’t had a prolific finisher since swingman Vince Carter was traded in 2009.
They do now.
And he happens to be a 26-year-old journeyman on his second 10-day contract, hoping to get a guaranteed deal. The Nets must make a decision to keep him for the entire season or let him go by March 18th.
Green should’ve been ecstatic. He hadn’t scored as many as 26 points since he dropped a career-high 33 on Apr. 10, 2007 when he was with Boston.
But all he could think about was his gaffe with 1:03 remaining, when he accidentally tipped in Courtney Lee’s missed shot, which proved to be the decisive basket.
“You can’t have those lapses when you’re playing a good team like the Rockets,” Green said. “[My 26-point game] doesn’t matter. We lost.”
Green certainly sounds and acts a lot more mature than he used to. He came into the NBA when he was 20-years-old -- a 2005 first-round pick of the Celtics -- and quickly found himself out of the league just three years later.
And he’s been trying to get a second chance ever since. Green went overseas and played in Russia and China before signing on with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League on Dec. 28.
“[D-Fenders] coach Eric Musselman did a hell of a job really motivating me, really pushing me every day in practice when I was with L.A.,” Green said. “I have to give him credit [for improving my game].”
It took nearly two months, but the Nets -- who had already lost three small forwards to season-ending injuries -- were so desperate for a 3 that they inked Green -- who had just been named D-League All-Star game MVP -- to his first 10-day deal on Feb. 27.
And Green has given them exactly what they’ve desired at the position ever since: competent defense, athleticism, speed, perimeter scoring and a rare ability to finish at the rim. In seven games with the Nets, he’s averaged 8.9 points and 2.7 rebounds.
“It feels great [for us] because Gerald has been really professional and he’s worked hard since he’s been here,” Johnson said. “He’s a polite young man, and he’s a kid you root for. He’s been through a lot, but just look at what he did [Saturday night].”
Point guard Deron Williams and Lopez were out, so Green stepped up his game. In 23 minutes, he shot 10-for-15 from the field, 4-for-8 from 3-point range and grabbed three rebounds.
The Nets (14-28) trailed by as many as 13 in the third quarter, but Green helped them get right back in it. He brought the house down, too. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
“I’d rather have two points and get a win and be satisfied with that because it’s a win,” Green said. “We lost and it doesn’t matter, whatever I did.”
Green claims he isn’t worried about his future. He claims he’s just trying to play for his teammates.
“It’s not about individual stats but whatever I can do to help my team win, I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m just happy to be here. I can’t thank the organization enough.”
Nets fans couldn’t thank Green enough on Saturday night. Even though their favorite team lost -- his alley-oop windmill dunk was worth the price of admission.
And if Saturday night was any indication, Green will be sticking around a lot longer than just 20 days.