Citing Kobe Bryant, Rockets rookie Jalen Green stays calm despite slump

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Outside of one 30-point breakout performance, it hasn’t been the smoothest career start for Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green. Through five games, the 19-year-old is averaging 14.2 points in 32.0 minutes on shooting percentages of 34.7% from the field and 31.6% on 3-pointers.

Thursday’s blowout loss to Utah was Green’s weakest performance yet, from a statistical perspective, with the 6-foot-6 guard shooting 3-of-16 from the field (18.8%) and 0-of-8 on 3-pointers.

But in the aftermath, Green suggested that he wasn’t letting the initial shooting slump bring him down. In a tweet referencing the late Kobe Bryant — who Green wants to be compared to — the No. 2 overall pick from the 2021 NBA draft showed his clear optimism.

“Kobe said he learned more from his bad shooting games then his good games,” tweeted Green, who grew up in California while watching Bryant play for the Lakers. “Keep going. Beauty in the struggle.”

Green’s subpar shooting is a clear anomaly relative to his track record, so he should be due for a relatively quick turnaround. Another encouraging sign is that he’s averaging only 1.8 turnovers in those 32 minutes per game, which suggests that he isn’t trying to do too much to compensate.

Appropriately, the next opportunity for Green to break out of his slump comes versus Bryant’s former team in Los Angeles. The Rockets (1-4) and Lakers (2-3) are scheduled to tip off at 9:30 p.m. Central time on Sunday at Staples Center, with an immediate rematch coming Tuesday.

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