Dime Q&A: Danny Green On Buzzer-Beaters & UNC’s Shot At A Title

03.21.12 7 years ago
While Jeremy Lin continues to steal the spotlight in the East, it’s his Reno Big Horns D-League teammate, Danny Green, who’s staking his own claim as the surprise story out West. Once Manu Ginobili went down, the former NCAA Champion out of North Carolina stepped in and clawed his way up a tough San Antonio Spurs’ depth chart, landing right in the starting lineup alongside Hall of Famers Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Playing major minutes in his first full year, like Lin, Green has taken full advantage of his opportunity, knowing all too well that it could have been his last. For Danny and the Spurs, though, it’s just business as usual.

We recently caught up with Green to talk about that memorable game against Dallas where the Spurs’ bench went nuts, and of course, UNC’s shot at a championship.

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Dime: What do you think it is in your game this season that has allowed you to be so successful? Are you seeing the floor better or taking better shots? Is it something on defense? What do you think it is?
Danny Green: I don’t think that anything has changed. It’s just been about finding my niche in whatever system I’m in. Over the summer when I was working out, I was working on things that the Spurs needed from me like corner threes and defense, which is just, you know, a desire to want to play. Defensively, I just try to be active and know the principles of the system here and the principles they live by; so if you know those then you can’t go wrong. Offensively I’ve just been trying to be a more consistent three-point shooter, especially from the corner. This being my first year playing, and with so many back-to-back-to-backs, of course you’re not going to have a great shooting night or have your legs every night, but when I got the opportunity, I kind of lucked out and was lucky enough to make some shots, hustle, play defense, and do some of the little things. So, my game hasn’t changed much it’s just, I guess, my attitude and my ability to adjust to the system better than before.

Dime: Talk about your shot against the Mavericks, now referred to as “the buzzer beater that wasn’t.” What were you thinking when the game eventually got sent into overtime, where you had another chance to win it, and what did you learn from that experience?
DG: Well, honestly, Pop [Coach Gregg Popovich] put the bench into that game to get better, and nobody really thought we were going to get back in that game. I did. I told Coach we’re gonna come back and win this game, and of course everybody was laughing. But we went on a run, then went up and things were going pretty well. We had a comfortable lead. It just so happened that they came back, they played well too down the stretch and we had some turnovers that we didn’t need late in the game. I thought we had a great chance of winning the game if we made a couple more smart plays offensively, and it didn’t happen, but so be it. With .5 seconds left, Pop drew me up a play coming off the screen, but I didn’t think I was going to get the ball, so I was kind of shocked when I got it. I thought I got it off in time but I guess it was after the buzzer. I don’t know. Then in overtime, I thought we still had a chance. I thought we had the momentum, we were playing well, and I thought we had a chance because we were playing smart, but Dallas is a tough team. They played smart and hit some tough shots that they needed.

Dime: You said you were a little surprised being the first look on that final play of regulation. Getting that opportunity – does that now give you the confidence to know that if the Spurs need a big shot, they can look to you to step up and hit it? What kind of confidence does that give you for the rest of the season and the playoffs?
DG: Well that whole game gave all of our bench guys a lot of confidence and showed that Pop has a lot of confidence in us. There have been games prior to that, where I would get the ball at the end of the game and I didn’t come up with the play. I think in the Sacramento game I missed a layup or lost the ball and missed a floater, and that kind of hurt my confidence. But to get another shot to make a play at the end of the game against Dallas, that gives me a lot of confidence and hopefully gives the coaching staff a lot of faith in me to step up and make big plays.

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