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Ainge: Jeff Green Has Been Our Best Player This Year

BOSTON (CBS) -- After an embarrassing effort Monday night against an undermanned Charlotte Hornets team, the Boston Celtics responded with a solid showing Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.

The C's started slow offensively, but played with some great intensity on the defensive end throughout the contest and pulled off an 89-81 victory -- just their 12th on the season.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich for his weekly call into the show on Thursday, and was happy to see his team respond Wednesday night.

"I thought the Charlotte game was one of the few games this year where we just didn't show up ready to win and put forth an effort. I think everyone could see it on film and during the game. After a good film session, nobody wants to be embarrassed like that on their home court," said Ainge. "Last night, even though it wasn't pretty -- we missed a lot of lay-ins and shots around the rims -- our defense was good from start to finish, and that was very impressive."

With the February 19 trade deadline just around the corner, and Rajon Rondo already shipped out of town, other members of the Celtics are starting to pop up in trade rumors. Jeff Green is reportedly on the Memphis Grizzlies' radar, with Boston reportedly seeking a first-round pick for the forward. But Ainge wouldn't discuss any rumors, and warns there will be a lot more as the deadline approaches.

"You never know when you're close in negotiations. Suffice it to say we've had many phone calls around the league. It's that time of year and there are going to be a lot of rumors, especially when you're a team who has won 12 games," said Ainge. "I guess Jeff is the new Rondo for our team -- the guy whose name is in the paper."

Ainge was quick to sing praise of Green though, who is averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game while shooting 43 percent from the floor.

"Jeff has been our best player this year and has had a fantastic year," said Ainge. "Last night, he didn't have a good game -- he got in foul trouble early -- but he hit two big shots to seal the victory down the stretch. He has been our most consistent scorer."

C's head coach Brad Stevens had a tough decision to make Wednesday night, choosing between veteran Marcus Thornton and rookie James Young for the game. Thornton had been sidelined for 11 games with a calf injury, while Young was coming off an impressive 13-point showing against the Hornets. Stevens went with the veteran in Thornton, which had Rich wondering if that could hurt Young's progress down the road.

"I've been that player before. I understand what you're saying; there is good and bad. You don't want to give players too much too soon," explained Ainge. "We want to put [Young] in situations where he can succeed. It's like bringing up a minor leaguer too fast, putting him in matchups he may struggle in.

"James knows he's a very important part of our future," said Ainge. "We're trying to pick our spots and put him in situations where he can succeed."

Listen to the full interview below:


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