Warriors feed Jamichael’s toughness and dominant 3-pointers originally appeared nbc sports birea
SAN FRANCISCO — Damian Lee’s second and final return to the Chase Center this season, except in playoff matchups, wasn’t as kind to the former Warrior Monday night in Golden State’s 123-112 win against the Phoenix Suns.
Lee played 18 minutes, scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds. He was 3 of 9 from the field and minus-11 in plus/minus. The optics were worse than the box score.
Klay Thompson was running after him, Steph Curry put him on a highlight reel and Jordan Poole dropped a big step-back 3 on him.
All that was lost because of the scene at the end of the fourth quarter between Lee and JMichael Green. With a minute and a half left in the game and the Warriors up by 15 points, Green and Lee went face-to-face across the court. Green was upset by a minor scuffle between Lee and Poole the previous possession, and let him know.
That’s when Lee tried to push Green. The result was somehow Lee flying backwards and talking incessantly as Greene was flexing and moving. It was clear who was in charge here. Lee then got behind Green but elbowed him out while the Warriors’ big man was called for a foul, and then Lee pushed Moses Moody to the ground in that sequence.
A blow from Lee to Jamichael from Moody was the final straw for him to take it. Green needed teammates, coaches, Suns players and referees to stop him. Enough. The 32-year-old is a keeper at heart and was ready for action.
“I just overreacted,” Green said Tuesday after the Warriors’ practice. “I just saw them get into an argument and just reacted. I really can’t explain. It’s just the heat of the moment.
“They beat us this season. Right now it’s important for us to win every game. It’s like playoff mode, so I’m ready to go.”
When the Warriors gave Green a One year, $2.6 million contract This session, he made it clear how he believes he will fit in with the best. It was not about his shooting ability. Not even his rebounding.
Defense is not what was brought up earlier.
More than anything, Green wanted to show Dub Nation the dog that lived within. He was hailed as the guy the Warriors can count on to do the dirty work at games. Fighting to keep plays alive, getting out for loose balls and sticking up for teammates – that’s what Green loves most about the game.
This is what fuels him on the court.
“It’s fun for me,” Green said. “I think I’ve started having fun again in the last two or three games. You just have to go out there and compete. Leave it all on the floor.”
The season hasn’t gone according to plan for Green. He got off to a slow start trying to find his footing in a new system. Then COVID-19 and a foot infection kept him out for a month. Upon his return, Steve Kerr found himself in and out of the lineup with some DNPs (Did Not Play) as he tinkered with the rotation and style of play.
In the midst of the ups and downs, even in his ninth season, Green has begun to remind himself how lucky he is to be living his dream every day. Instead of finding answers, he focused only on controlling what he could control. This mindset has given him the opportunity to play freely and it has shown on the court.
In the Warriors’ 2–0 homestand after a five-game winless road trip, Green gave Golden State the winning minutes off the bench. He scored 18 points with six rebounds, one block and four threes in the Warriors’ overtime victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. Then on Monday against the Suns, he added nine points along with seven rebounds, one block and another three assists.
There are numbers. Patience has always been and always will be. His production and veteran presence do not go unnoticed by his coach and teammates. What has impressed Kerr the most is green perseverance.
“J-Mych has been great,” Kerr said Tuesday. “At the beginning of the season things didn’t really go his way. I played him with some difficult combinations. We were trying to figure out different lineups and I didn’t put him in a great position to be successful. He’s determined.”
“He just stuck with it and he’s been really good lately. Knocking down shots obviously, but he’s providing that toughness and that grit. And yeah, you like a guy who He’s going to back up his teammates, which we saw last night. It’s great. For chemistry, it’s great for team morale and J-Mitch provided that.”
Last season, Green shot 26.6 percent on 3-pointers. But he was playing because of a painful injury to his right wrist. The Warriors had seen the 6-foot-8 big stretch in the past get hurt deep enough to know he’s still capable of doing so.
In October, he made just 23.1 percent of his threes. Then in November, he pulled ahead of Arc by 16.7 percent. But in December, this number increased to 38.9 percent. Although he only played in three games in January, he went 4 of 8 on 3-pointers.
He was a 46.2 percent 3-point shooter last month, and is at 50 percent (11 of 22) in March.
“It’s huge,” Donte DiVincenzo said Tuesday of Green’s 3-point ability. “When they’re worried about him shooting the three on the pick-and-pop, it allows our guard to go downhill. Once we go downhill and break down the defense, we We can kick, swing, drive again and then we get whatever we want.
“When we played Milwaukee, Brook (Lopez) was sitting in the paint. JaMichael got down to his three, it forced him to come out a little bit more and opened up the paint more in the second half.”
Connected: Dubs’ Best Start Of The Season Win vs Suns Before Road Trip
Despite his slow start, Green is now shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point range for the Warriors. They’re 6-2 in games he makes a lot of 3s.
Soft-spoken but with a deep, strong voice that calls out for a purpose, Green has earned his respect around the NBA. He was undrafted out of Alabama in 2014 and has now played in the league for nearly a decade. Green has signed three separate 10-day contracts and has been traded twice.
The Warriors are their fifth franchise, and they have been eyeing them for years. Dub Nation’s newest dog is showing how his bite can match his bark when locked in playoff mode.
“I think the biggest thing is that he’s still there — whether he’s playing or not,” DiVincenzo said when asked about Green’s toughness. “He may not even realize his influence.
“A lot of people turn to him when things heat up in the game. He has everybody’s back. On or off the court, it doesn’t matter.”