Draymond Green come through in 'money time,' seals Warriors' sixth win

Logan Murdock
NBC Sports BayArea

SAN FRANCISCO -- With six seconds left in the Warriors' 106-102 win Friday night, Draymond Green found himself in his comfort zone.

Isolated at the top of the key on Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, the Warriors forward fought through a brush screen and kept both hands up as Ingram clanked a last-second jumper, sealing Golden State's sixth win of the season while providing the sequence Green relishes. 

"At that moment, it's money time," Green said. "I like to get in the fray of that moment."

For years, similar game-sealing plays were routine for Green as the Warriors lived on the NBA's mountaintop. Now, on a battered team in transition, he finds himself teaching lessons while giving glimpses of his former self.   

"He's just so smart, understanding exactly when to help, where to help from and directing other players and where they should be," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "He was brilliant down the stretch defensively. That was an enormous play."

Three years ago, similar late-game performances were routine. During the 2016-17 season, Green ranked first in defensive plus-minus, finishing the season with 106 blocks and 154 steals, while opponents shot just 40 percent from the field when he was the primary on-ball defender. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year at the end of the season. 

While Green's defensive numbers have waned in recent years, he's still produced virtuoso performances when Golden State has needed him the most. Seven months ago, with Kevin Durant out of the lineup, Green averaged 14.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 8.1 assists over an eight-game stretch to help Golden State reach the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year. 

This season, with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry out, Green has grown his leadership style. No longer maintaining a group full of All-Stars, he's frequently had to put his arm around the league's third-youngest roster. 

"He hasn't taken his foot off the gas yet," Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell admitted. "He doesn't miss shootaround, miss practice, like he's going that hard every time, and that shows a sense of his character. You want to follow guys like that -- they have a sense of credibility. You want to follow guys like that." 

The change in style has coincided with Green's growth as a man. Now 29 years old and a father of two, he's found himself in a refined headspace.

Though Green is second in the league in technicals, he now has mastered the art of toeing the line of ejection. Three quarters after receiving his sixth tech of the season, he found himself in a conundrum after disagreeing with a late foul on Ingram. Green yelled to himself, careful not scream in an official's face and increase the probability of his first ejection of the season.

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Green's wherewithal showed up 32 seconds later, at the top of the key against Ingram. Sensing his 22-year-old opponent hasn't been bestowed the responsibility of leading a team yet, Green forced Ingram to win the game, a moment he wasn't ready for, teaching another lesson along the way.

"That'll be an area where he'll grow and continue to get better," Green said. "But like I said, at that time, the juices really get flowing. I wanted to get a stop, and that competitive edge comes out."

Draymond Green come through in 'money time,' seals Warriors' sixth win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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