Precisely 24 minutes after the Thunder’s 100-99 loss at Cleveland on Saturday, Jeff Green posted a four-word message on Twitter that told the story of his 2009-10 season. "Trying to have patience...” Green wrote. The ellipses served as a fitting subliminal inclusion that confirms Green’s story is to be continued. Green, the fifth overall pick in 2007, is struggling through a season-long slump that he can’t seem to find a way out of. His points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentages from the field, 3-point line and foul line are all down from a year ago. Green’s 12.7-point average this month is his lowest in a month since February of his rookie season in 2008. But it was the Cavs game that Green seemingly reached his boiling point. Green scored 11 points, going 4-for-14 from the field and taking just one shot attempt in a fourth quarter that saw four ties, five lead changes and neither team holding a lead of more than six points. "That was me just making a mental note to myself to stay patient,” Green said of his "tweet.” "It’s me staying patient with what I’m working with and continue to work hard and just be patient and know that things will turn around.” After developing a consistent perimeter shooting touch in his second year, Green has reverted to shooting 29 percent from beyond the arc this season. His 14-point average is 2.5 points fewer than last year’s career-high, and his 6.1 rebounds are 0.6 fewer than last season’s total. Thunder coach Scott Brooks, though, sees Green shaking his slump soon. Brooks knows that behind the scenes Green has been working with assistant coach Brian Keefe. The two have spent ample time in the film room dissecting Green’s shooting form from last season. The findings were that Green’s shot has been too flat. Brooks assures Green has made the adjustment. "His release is a lot better,” Brooks said. "He’s about to go on a nice stretch here. I sense it. I feel it.” Green, regarded as perhaps the most unselfish player on the team, said he wants to play better but can live with his performances as long as the Thunder continues winning. "Whatever it takes for us to win, I’m going to do,” Green said. "I want to win games. I really don’t care about the individual stats. If we continue to win and make the playoffs and eventually get to the point where we want to be, I couldn’t care less about those individual stats.” 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.” Text "OKTHUNDER” to 65360 for your chance to win an Adidas OKC Thunder Warm-Up Jersey. NewsOK OKC Thunder news text alerts sponsored by Totally Tickets.
Thunder vs. Chicago→When: 7 p.m. Wednesday →Where: Ford Center →TV: KSBI-52 (Cox 15) →Radio: WWLS-AM 640, FM 98.1