Seems like a mismatch. Hasheem Thabeet is 7-foot-3. Danny Green is 6-6.
So when Thabeet came off the bench in the first quarter for the Dakota Wizards and swatted Green’s shot out of bounds in his first 24 seconds of play, it wasn’t shocking.
Thabeet just smiled. Green was grinning, too, for the Erie BayHawks, but he had revenge on his mind.
“He caught me the first time,” Green said. “I forgot he was in the game for a second. I think I was in the post or something. I had a lay up and he just threw it out of bounds. I said, ‘alright, I got you neck time big dawg.’”
Thirty-nine seconds later, Green got him.
Thabeet caught a post pass and looked as if it was going to be an easy lay in, but Green came from behind and blocked the shot. Then he stared at Thabeet before running back down the court.
“When he caught it, I knew what he was going to do,” Green said. “Talked a little trash, but the referees said don’t talk no more or will throw some technical fouls at you. I said, ‘Alright, man.’ We’re having fun. It’s part of the game. We’re homeboys.”
Even though the two NBA rookies have been sent down to play in the D-League, it was good to seem the go at each other.
I know some people and all referees don’t like trash talking, but to see Thabeet, a first-round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies and Green, a second-round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers, jawing indicated to me they were talking this minor league thing serious.
Green had a better game scoring as he finished with a game-high 36 points, but shot 13-of-28 from the field. Green was 6-of-12 from 3-point range. He had nine rebounds, turned the ball five times, didn’t have an assist and allowed David Bell to get hot in the first quarter.
Bell hit his first six 3-point shots in helping Dakota build a 32-27 first-quarter lead.
In addition, Green had two bad moments at the end of the game.
1. With Erie down 101-98, Green allowed Darren Cooper to drive left by him. That forced Ivan Harris to come help, which opened it up for Cooper to hit Curtis Withers for a lay in.
2. With Erie down 105-100, Green was looking to make a move at the top of the key, but Cooper stole the ball from him with 33.6 seconds left.
However, Green did shake off being nervous for Thursday’s game to have a big scoring night Friday. Without his 36 points, Erie gets blown out.
As for Thabeet, much was made of him being sent down considering he was the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He didn’t have a bad game, but wasn’t spectatular, either.
He was only credited for one block, but I thougth he got two. Thabeet did alter some shots, but he lost some rebounds to guys much smaller than him. Just wasn’t very aggressive.
People were expecting him to dominate the game. Personally, I didn’t think he would, but for certain rebound situations. He shot 3-of-4 from the field with two buckets being dunks, but didn’t go after the ball with the hunger one should at this height.
In the second half, the BayHawks started using Thabeet’s aggressiveness against him by driving at him and finding open men for layups when Thabeet tried to block the shot.
Thabeet is just reacting to the play, but if Jackie Manuel can get him to leave his feet and hit an open man for a lay in, you can see how an NBA guy could do it with regularity.
After the game, Thabeet actually found himself surrounded by fans on the court. So Dakota coach Rory White had to come out of the visitors locker room, go back on the floor and get Thabeet.
In the locker room, Thabeet said all the right things in terms of doing what the team wants, looking to get better, but did say he’s not concerned with what people say about him being the second overall pick in the NBA Draft and being sent down to the D-League.
White said Thabeet will be with the Wizards until March 8 so they will have him for five more games. It’ll be interesting to see if his numbers rise once he gets comfortable with his new teammates.
I tell you what, they’re happy to have him as the Wizards (19-16) can rack up some wins and put themselves in position to make the playoffs.
Now Green went back to Cleveland after last night’s game so he’ll likely rejoin the Cavaliers for their next game.
The BayHawks are sure sad he’s gone. At 13-23, Erie needs to go on a major run to get in the playoffs and Green would certainly help that cause.