A look at what’s trending in the NBA:
Heckuva Houston homecoming
If there was nothing more to Gerald Green’s trek that being a journeyman who is almost 32 getting to play in his hometown, the storyline would be inspiring enough.
But all of the element of Green’s life and all the needs of Houston’s injury situation make it so much better.
The Rockets needed to pull Green off his couch after a shoulder injury to Luc Mbah a Moute and they will need him for more of a role and a longer time now that James Harden will be sidelined two weeks with a hamstring injury.
Green made 60% of his three-point shots in a recent Houston four-game stretch, with 21 points per game, playing as if he has been in the NBA all season, and is a hot commodity. Really, Green has shuffled in and out and around the league ever since he left a now-defunct Houston strip mall high school in 2005.
Now, with a Rockets logo braided into his hair, the swingman gets the chance to become a fan favorite in his hometown, as he has at eight previous NBA stops because of his crowd-wowing dunks, unconscious shooting streaks and motor-mouthing personality.
Green can be a handful but he is hard not to like when he is cracking up teammates during a practice or driving Houston’s streets to help people during Hurricane Harvey.
His defensive liabilities always have made it difficult to keep his torrid scoring ability in a starting lineup, let alone a rotation or roster. Green was cut in high school, the CBA and China, so NBA misgivings about him are not unjustified.
Through it all, he has maintained an unabashed confidence that shooters must have and can’t lose. Green will let it fly through misses and makes and that might fit better with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni than any of his previous coaches.
The NBA does not leave picking the All-Star starters solely up to the fans, but the first returns of fan voting resulted in a mostly deserving top 10.
Fans account for half of the deciding points with the other half coming from players and media. Picking three frontcourt and two backcourt from each conference, the fans nailed the Eastern Conference so far with Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, LeBron James and leading vote-getter Giannis Antetokounmpo atop the lists.
The West is close with Stephen Curry and James Harden at the guards but LaMarcus Aldridge coming in at 10th among frontcourt players. Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins claim the spots with Draymond Green just behind Cousins.
Aldridge’s best season has been much-needed with preseason most valuable player candidate Kawhi Leonard out for nearly two months and still not back all the way. Aldridge became a steady source of double-doubles and leadership as the Spurs coaching staff allowed him to get back to his offensive strengths.
In the new format, the top vote-getter from each conference will serve as captains, who will chose players for their teams, regardless of conference, from a pool of voted starters and reserves.
‘The Truth’ hurts
Now that Cleveland’s Jae Crowder got a tribute video from Boston for his three years there, Isaiah Thomas surely has one coming, but the Cavaliers’ final date in Boston this season creates a conflict.
When Cleveland returns to TD Garden on Feb. 11, the Celtics are having a jersey retirement ceremony for Paul Pierce, who played his first 15 NBA seasons there and was a 10-time All-Star and part of the 2008 championship team.
“I.T. might have to wait until next year,” Pierce said on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I don’t know if they need to put him in a tribute video. … It’s like everybody’s getting a tribute video now.”
Pierce and fellow analyst Stephen Jackson joked that Clipper Darrell would deserve one if he retired the red-and-blue blazer at Staples Center.
“On Feb. 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the Jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights after all the years I put in,” Pierce said on the show. “I had a chance to watch Kobe’s. Throughout the game and the timeouts, there were a lot of tribute videos for him and I enjoyed to watch that throughout the game. Hopefully, the Boston Celtics will do that for me. I’m not sure if I want to see an Isaiah video that night.”
CLEVELAND at TORONTO: Thursday at 5 p.m. Pacific. TV: TNT.
The Raptors are on an 11-game home winning streak and have surged past the Cavaliers as Isaiah Thomas joins a standings slide in progress. Toronto’s new offensive approach is benefiting from DeMar DeRozan adding a three-point shot to his scoring repertoire and Serge Ibaka playing more efficiently in his first full Toronto season. But the Raptors’ depth has been vital, especially when Kyle Lowry has two quality backups in Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet who can play together. Wright has been exemplary at both ends since returning from a shoulder injury.