Patriots

Varnado happy to be in Brooklyn with Celtics for holidays

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Varnado happy to be in Brooklyn with Celtics for holidays

BROOKLYN, N.Y. Christmas came a little early this year for Jarvis Varnado, the newest member of the Boston Celtics.

The 6-foot-9 rookie was signed by the C's this week after a strong showing with the NBA Development League's Sioux Falls Skyforce.

"Playing in the NBA someday is what you always dream of," Varnado told CSNNE.com moments before stepping on to the floor for the first time as a member of the Boston Celtics. "I'm really happy right now."

Varnado described his arrival in Boston as being a whirlwind of a courtship that came together in a matter of hours.

"I came in for a workout on Sunday, and I thought it went pretty good," he said. "I talked to a couple of people and they said they (Celtics) were thinking about signing me and I later got the phone call from my agent to confirm it."

The addition of Varnado took on an even greater importance after the C's learned that a thumb injury to Chris Wilcox would sideline him for about a month. Couple that with Darko Milicic being waived to be with his ailing mother, and the need for another big was obvious.

Varnado's goal is to do whatever he can to not just play well, but play well enough that the C's will want to keep him around for the rest of the season.

"I know my role; just do what I do best; rebound and block shots and bring that energy to the floor," Varnado said.

In 10 games with the Skyforce, Varnado averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and a league-best 3.9 blocked shots per game.

A three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year at Mississippi State, he finished his collegiate career as the NCAA's all-time leader in blocked shots.

However, Varnado has had trouble sticking with teams in part because he has yet to show that he can bring more to the game than blocking shots and defending.

But considering what the C's need, Varnado's strengths fit in well with what the Celtics need more of out of their current roster.

"I just feel blessed for this opportunity," said Varnado who was drafted by Miami in the second round of the 2010 draft but whose rights were released prior to the start of this season. "It's been a long journey to get here. The only thing I have to do is all I can do, to stick."

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

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Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game.