Garnett teaching Hollins both on and off the court


Garnett teaching Hollins both on and off the court

NEW YORK Somewhere in New York City last night, Kevin Garnett had to be smiling as the Boston Celtics defeated Charlotte, 94-82.

It wasn't just because the Celtics defeated the Bobcats without him or his Big Three cohorts, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen who were all given the night off following the team's win at New Jersey on Saturday (Allen did not play against the Nets and is not traveling with the team because of an ankle injury).

Garnett had to be thrilled to know that his latest pupil, Ryan Hollins, made the most of his opportunity to play meaningful minutes - a first for him since joining the C's last month.

Hollins, who was waived by Cleveland last month and soon signed by the Celtics, had two points and four rebounds off the C's bench in about 20 minutes of court time.

The rebounds and minutes played were both season-highs for him with the C's.

Hollins made it clear that despite the Celtics and Bobcats being at such opposite ends of the NBA spectrum, beating them had great value for the Celtics - and for himself.

"This was about guys getting out there such as myself getting some minutes. I really needed it," he "Doc (Rivers) said before the game, this isn't about our offense, it's our defense."

And while Hollins didn't record any of the 10 blocked shots registered by the Celtics, there was no mistaking his presence on the floor. Hollins has stuck around in the NBA because of his ability to run the floor, show on pick-and-rolls and tilt occasionally towards an opponent to help out a teammate defensively.

His value throughout his career has seldom shown up in tangible statistics. However, the Celtics were plus-6 when he was in the game against the Bobcats, which was the best plusminus ratio of any Celtic reserve.

And it is that willingness to do the little things needed to win, that's in part why Garnett has gravitated toward Hollins who is now in his sixth season with his fifth NBA team. Bouncing around so much can shake the confidence of any player.

But Hollins maintains that for him, it all comes down to finding the right fit - something he believes he now has with the Celtics.

And of course, helping the process tremendously, he said, has been the time Garnett has spent with him both on the floor and off it.

The two spent this past summer playing together in California during the NBA lockout, with Garnett and C's Captain Paul Pierce both encouraging the Celtics to sign him during the shortened offseason.

Instead Hollins wound up with the Cavaliers who waived him on March 20. Shortly after he cleared waivers, the Celtics waived Chris Wilcox, who is out for the rest of the season following heart surgery, in order to add Hollins to the roster.

The biggest challenge Hollins has had in the NBA, is rebounding and positioning around the basket.

He acknowledges Garnett's work both in telling him and leading by example, have helped.

And now, it's to the point where he doesn't have to necessarily have Garnett around to hear him.

"It's huge," Hollins said of having Garnett's support. "You got somebody like that in your corner, It's him, in the back of your mind, whether he's saying something or not. His attention to detail, preparation for the game, the teammate that he is, it rubs off on you and really helps."

And while Hollins had one of his best games as a Celtic on Sunday, his thoughts immediately afterward centered around not what he did, but he could have done a better job of - something he sees all the time in his mentor, Garnett.

"I just have to keep getting better, at everything," Hollins said. "That's what I'm really focusing on; just trying to be a better player at every part of my game."

'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments


'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.


That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.  

Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days


Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while back in the good, ol' Eastern Time Zone.
*Really nice piece from Shawn Thornton in the Players' Tribune about the inspiration provided by his “Nanny” and how he’s come to truly love the community service and hospital visits while involved with professional hockey. He’s always been one of those athletes that just stops by children’s hospitals for a visit without needing the attention for it, and that is a credit to his great generosity and empathy for those brave kids.

 *You want a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps? Well, the world will certainly provide a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps.

*Defenseman Connor Murphy hasn’t been the player that the Chicago Blackhawks expected him to be since arriving in the Windy City.
*The Colorado Avalanche are adding a fancy stats and video man to their management group as they seek to keep improving the NHL product.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eddie Olczyk is returning to the NBC broadcast booth as his health will allow as he continues to battle cancer. Good to see you back, Edzo!

 *Erik Karlsson is finally set to debut for the Ottawa Senators after offseason foot surgery, and it will be a case of the strong getting stronger for a Sens team off to a pretty decent start.

 *For something completely different: Just in time for Halloween, Jennifer Tilly releases all of the behind-the-scenes secrets of working with Chucky.