But there is another possible reason Green’s numbers are down — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s numbers are up. Green has voluntarily taken a back seat.
"That’s an asset to have, knowing he cares about how we’re doing,” Brooks said. "Everybody wants to play well. But you have to sacrifice your game to what the team needs. And Jeff is a pro. He’s learned early in his career that sacrificing your game to help your team have success is more important.”
Durant, who is averaging a career-high 29.3 points, an even four more than last season, credited Green for his success.
"He does a lot for us outside of the stat sheet,” Durant said. "He’s the reason Russell’s averaging seven assists, the reason I’m averaging 20-something points. He gives his body up every day, and he’s the glue guy for us.”
Green’s value showed each night in the Thunder’s recent four-game road trip.
In Atlanta, Green had the poster dunk plus the foul on Josh Smith that sealed the three-point win over the Hawks. In Minnesota two nights later, Green ignited an 11-2 run with a 3-pointer that gave the Thunder a two-point lead it would never give back. But it was his block on Corey Brewer with 3.2 seconds remaining that helped preserve the two-point win.
Last Friday in Memphis, Green came up with another big block on O.J. Mayo with 23.9 seconds left and the score tied at 84. OKC could have won it, but Marc Gasol stripped Durant of the rebound and Rudy Gay later nailed the game-winning jumper. And against Cleveland, Green gobbled two huge rebounds inside the final minute. The first led to two free throws and a one-point lead with 56.7 seconds remaining after Green recovered a LeBron James miss and drew a foul on Anderson Varejao.
But the box scores will show Green shot 21-for-58 in those four contests, a 36.2 percentage.
"A lot of people think Jeff should average 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) since he’s playing (power forward) and he’s a mismatch,” Durant said. "But he’s out there playing hard and doing what he has to do. I’m glad he’s on our team because it’d be hell playing against him.”
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