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Green starting to find his way

Fast player has been fast learner

Jeff Green, who scored 21 points in 28 minutes, used his speed to get past the Warriors’ Louis Amundson for a dunk. Jeff Green, who scored 21 points in 28 minutes, used his speed to get past the Warriors’ Louis Amundson for a dunk. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / March 5, 2011

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After taking a half-hour detour while winding his way to TD Garden this week, Jeff Green is still figuring out the best route to commute to work. Nor was Green quite certain where to be on the court last night. But he is bringing another dimension to the Celtics’ frontcourt as he learns the offense.

Green scored 21 points in 28 minutes in a 107-103 win over the Golden State Warriors. Green alternated between forward positions, outrunning opposing big men and overpowering the smaller ones.

“He just ran the floor,’’ coach Doc Rivers. “He’s a gazelle, the guy can absolutely fly. And our guys know that now and you can see them, they’re giving it to him, and he knows that they’ll get it to him so he’s running.

“There’s a couple times that Kevin [Garnett] actually slowed down so he could run by him because he saw that he has his man beat. And that’s just great awareness.’’

The Celtics usually count on defensive stops to ignite fast breaks, but Green’s pace changed that equation.

Green displayed his speed early in the second quarter, outpacing everyone after a Warriors field goal, taking a pass from Rajon Rondo, and converting a 3-point play for a 48-41 lead.

Then, Green dunked after Ray Allen passed up an open 3-pointer, and dunked again off a Rondo lob in a halfcourt set. But that would be the last of Green’s field goals until the final quarter, when he hit two long jumpers and made a spectacular reverse layup.

“It’s tough for a ‘4’ to run the floor with Jeff Green, if we run with space,’’ Rivers said. “I told our guys in the fourth we stopped doing that.

“When they went small, usually I tend to stay big anyway. But the way we were playing, I felt we better go small. The good thing with Jeff is that we can do that now. Teams go small, we’re good with that. In some ways it puts more offense on the floor, and ability. So it doesn’t hurt us at all.”

In fact, going small could become a strength with Green.

“I mean, I’m a lot faster than a lot of the guys who guard me, so it’s to my advantage to try and get easy layups,’’ Green said. “It’s important to get a groove with those guys, and try to use my abilities to help them out — get out on the break. When you’ve got Paul [Pierce] rebounding, you’ve got KG rebounding, when you‘ve got a great guard like Rondo who sees the floor, it makes it a lot easier for myself.

“They share the ball, they make it easy for myself to get easy shots. It’s a team effort, make sure everybody gets a touch, making the extra pass.’’

Green was limited by foul trouble, though his last two personals were questionable calls. He fouled out in the final minute.

“He’s still trying to figure [things] out — he’s in the wrong spot and he’s trying to get to the right spot,’’ Rivers said. “I think he had three fouls off balance just trying to get to the right spots. It will be natural for him, eventually.’’

Green is not about to be discouraged by phantom calls or by the maze of Boston streets.

“I just tried to get familiar with the area, took the wrong exit,’’ he said. “You get in those tunnels, it’s not fun. I think exploring the city will take some time.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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