But there have been nights so far this season when it has all seemed so natural for the versatile veteran. Green certainly appeared in his element Saturday night as he knocked down several big shots as part of a second-unit that helped the Magic overcome a 12-point third-quarter deficit to come away with an 88-86 win over the Washington Wizards at home.
Green led his team with 18 points off the bench as the Magic improved to .500 with its third straight win after starting the season 0-3.
”My job is to just go play basketball,” said Green, who scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. ”It doesn’t matter if I come off the bench, start, play five minutes, play 30 minutes. My job is the same. I just have to be aggressive with the minutes I play.
”I’m just finding my rhythm and that’s what it’s all about.”
Green, who is playing behind Aaron Gordon at the small forward spot, led the second unit which provided energy in both the first and second halves to pull the Magic out of double-digit deficits. The bench, which also includes Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin and Mario Hezonja was so impressive that Frank Vogel left them in the game down the critical stretch as the Wizards threatened.
Biyombo was huge in the paint on the defensive end, coming up with 12 rebounds and three big block shots to energize the team. Hezonja, a second-year swingman, finally broke out of his slump, by scoring eight of his nine points in the fourth quarter on clutch baskets.
”That’s what we need from the second unit, come in with a lot energy, scoring mentality and just be more aggressive,” said Evan Fournier, who finished with 13 points.
Vogel admitted that second-unit gave the team a much-needed lift.
”We road some of those guys out the rest of the game because of their first-quarter energy and obviously they got going late into the third and into the fourth,” said Vogel, whose team has won back-to-back games at home. ”So credit those guys for turning the game around.”
The Wizards (1-4), who were playing without point guard John Wall, struggled to come up with shots down the stretch even though Markieff Morris came close to knocking down a game-winning 3-point shot at the buzzer. Morris led the team with 18 points while Bradley Beal added 15.
”A few missed defensive assignments,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. ”They hit some 3s. They got some breaks.”
Wizards: As expected, Wall did not play in Saturday night’s game against Magic. He is not playing in back-to-back night games while still recovering from offseason surgery on both knees. Rookie Tomas Satoransky started in his place and veteran Trey Burke served as the backup.
Magic: Orlando had lost 12 straight games to the Washington Wizards entering Saturday night’s game. … The Magic entered Saturday night averaging 13.2 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks second in the NBA. … The Magic debuted their new dark grey uniforms.
WATCHING IBAKA SURGE
Wizards coach Scott Brooks had a front seat view of Serge Ibaka’s transition from Spain to the NBA when the Seattle Supersonics (Oklahoma City Thunder) drafted him in 2009 and Brooks was the head coach. Ibaka was a talented player but didn’t speak English initially so explaining what he wanted from Ibaka was a challenge for Brooks.
”My first (go-around) with him was very interesting,” Brooks said. ”We didn’t know how to communicate. Even on the basketball court the first couple of months it was very difficult but I give Serge a lot of credit. He came and took English lessons and really challenged himself to pick up the language.”
Wizards: Washington returns home to face the Houston Rockets on Monday.
Magic: Orlando plays at the Chicago Bulls on Monday at the United Center.