UNCASVILLE, Conn. — As he looked more and more comfortable in the offense, popping midrange jumpers and providing the type of bench scoring the Celtics have craved and needed for years, Gerald Green began to reminisce.
His last appearance as a Celtic was April 18, 2007. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves 3½ months later in the deal that netted Kevin Garnett for the Celtics. Green has played with seven other NBA teams and in Russia and China since his departure. He left on good terms and there always seemed to be a thirst to return.
So he was rather nostalgic Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena when he got the start in his preseason debut, and when he began looking more comfortable in the Celtics’ offense in the second half.
In the Celtics’ 104-86 romp over the Charlotte Hornets in front of 8,052, Green finished with 13 points in 20:08 and warmed up in the second half. The Celtics signed Green because of his propensity to score in bunches and he showed that skill in the third quarter when scored 9 in a stretch of 6:51.
“Feels so good to wear this Celtics green again,” he said. “It feels great. An unbelievable feeling. It’s almost like déjà vu again in a way. I’m just so happy to wear the Celtics green again.”
Green missed the first 10 days of training camp with a strained left hip flexor and after signing a one-year minimum contract, his roster spot is not exactly guaranteed. There is a sense of urgency to get on the court and make an impression.
“This is my 12th season, so I feel I can catch on a lot faster than when I first came here when I was a rookie,” he said. “I was able to catch on pretty fast.”
Said Celtics coach Brad Stevens: “He’s behind a little but he’ll catch up. He’s an older player. Been around. The experience helps so much in regaining the footing.”
Green is now the senior member of the Celtics 11 years after the club drafted him out of high school as a 19-year-old. He said he feels as if has some wisdom to offer his younger teammates.
“I still act like I’m the youngest,” Green said. “Of course [I offer advice] because I got that same advice [back then]. If I see a young guy pressing, I try to tell him to relax and play your game. I just try to give guys encouragement since I am the old vet now.”
Jaylen Brown is trying to harness his excitement and temper his athleticism as he makes the transition to the NBA. On Thursday against Charlotte, he was called for two traveling calls as he appeared to shuffle his feet before driving to the basket. Footwork has been an emphasis for Brown, whose elite athleticism will get him to the basket, but not when he takes two steps before dribbling.
“I’m not one to really talk to the refs but we had a [training camp] meeting with the refs and it’s just [them] getting more comfortable and seeing you play enough,” he said. “I watched the film, and one of them I traveled when I came off the catch and the other one I didn’t. It’s about a balance.”
Brown also knocked down two 3-pointers as he continues to work on his perimeter game. On Saturday, he struggled, missing all four attempts.
“Just having more confidence when I shoot it,” he said. “It felt good to see one go in. Teams are closing [defensively] so the shot’s wide open sometimes. I feel like I can get to the basket any time I want but I still like taking that shot. So just keep putting in work.”
Brown was sincere when he said he feels he can get to the basket any time he wants.
“There’s a lot of space on the floor and I have a lot of confidence in my game,” he said. “I feel like I can put the ball on the floor. I put in a lot of work and I have to continue to do so.”
Rozier catches elbow
Terry Rozier’s stint Saturday was limited to less than eight minutes after he took an elbow to the upper lip taking a charge from Charlotte’s Christian Wood. Wood was assessed a flagrant 1 foul while Rozier received seven stitches. Rozier was bleeding on the court and was rushed to the locker room. Stevens needed to replace Rozier with a free throw shooter, meaning the second-year guard was ineligible to return. “I have never heard of that rule,” he said. “If I could have gotten back in and played, I would have played. Just frustrated that I had to get stitches. Nobody wants stitches.” Rozier’s injury allowed for extensive playing time for rookie Demetrius Jackson, the Notre Dame product who signed a partially guaranteed contract. Jackson finished with 9 points and two assists in 14:44 . . . Jae Crowder flew back to his high school in Villa Rica, Ga., on Friday night to have his jerseys retired in basketball and football.