Sometimes, just needing knee surgery can end a guy's career. Jeff Green needed heart surgery.

And there he was this past week in Denver, Green in green, pouring in 20 points for the Boston Celtics.

This guy is an inspiration, redefining the sports cliché of having a strong heart. The fact that he's even on a roster, after missing last season due to surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm, is amazing. But lately, he's been a key contributor to the Celtics, who are hanging around in the Eastern Conference despite the loss of point guard Rajon Rondo for the season.

Nuggets coach George Karl described Green as "becoming a bigger part of their personality." And indeed, Karl suggested Boston's defense has been like previous seasons when the Celts defended with swagger. And as Boston coach Doc Rivers recently told reporters: "He's a matchup nightmare. At (small forward), he can post you and at (power forward) he has speed. And when he's making his jumper ... it's pretty much a tough night for whoever's guarding him."

For the season, Green has averaged 10.9 points on 45.8 percent shooting, but in the past 10 games, he's averaged 16.7 points on 55.3 shooting, including the big night at the Pepsi Center and his monster night at Phoenix on Friday. With Kevin Garnett out, the 6-foot-9 Green made 11-of-14 shots, finishing with 31 points (oh, and seven rebounds, four assists and five blocks). Forget "monster night." I'm going to use a phrase I just picked up from Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap: "Godzilla night."