BOSTON -- Paul Pierce didn't hesitate on his answer.When asked if he thought Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger should be named to the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in February, the team captain hardly took any time to respond."Oh yeah," he said. "I think that's like a no brainer."Formerly referred to as the Rookie-Sophomore Game, the event will feature two teams made up of both first and second-year players. Sullinger has made a strong case to be included on the roster.He ranks fourth among all rookies in rebounding with 5.9 boards per game, behind only New Orleans Hornets Anthony Davis (7.8), Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond (7.3), and Charlotte Bobcats Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6.5). In spite of averaging less than 20 minutes per game, Sullinger has grabbed 217 rebounds, trailing only Drummond and Kidd-Gilchrist. When it comes to offensive rebounds -- a coveted skill among bigs -- Sullinger is also third with 77.The 20 year old has emerged on a team full of veterans. Unlike other rookies who were immediately given a significant role when they were drafted, Sullinger has had to earn his minutes by hustling on each possession. His contributions have helped translate into victories, matching the high quality with quantity on the box score.Sullinger is averaging 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds during the Celtics current six-game winning streak, including back-to-back double-doubles in which he posted a total of 26 points and 25 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.You look at the rookie class, I really cant even name five quality rookies thats really playing well and playing significantly for their ball club, said Pierce. I definitely think he should be there.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while simply skating my lane today.
*A terrific piece on Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell getting on with his life after an MS diagnosis, and pushing to see if he can return to the ice.
*If the New York Islanders botch the hirings for people guiding the franchise, then John Tavares could be one of the next figures gone from Brooklyn.
*It’s been a rough go of it for St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen over the past few weeks and that continued on Thursday night.
*Top NHL Draft prospect Nolan Patrick’s value comes from his two-way play, and that’s what teams are focused on rather than the injury issues.
*Mike Babcock talks a wide range of subjects with James Duthie during a 1-on-1 with the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach.
*In his never-ending odyssey on the fringes of the NHL, Seth Griffith has been claimed by the Maple Leafs on waivers for the second time.
*Veteran forward Clarke MacArthur won’t be playing this season for the Ottawa Senators amid his concussion issues.
*For something completely different: Bill Belichick just being Bill Belichick at his press conference on Friday and that’s something we can all be reassured about.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots had perfect attendance at Friday's practice, meaning they had all 53 players on their active roster present and accounted for at all three practices this week.
Contrast that with how things have gone for the Steelers this week, and there is a stark difference. Star running back Le'Veon Bell missed each of his team's first two on-the-field workouts this week, and several Steelers players are dealing with a bug that seems to have circulated the locker room.
The Patriots could have an interesting game-day roster decision to make should Chris Hogan (thigh), Malcolm Mitchell (knee) and Danny Amendola (ankle) both be healthy enough to play on Sunday. They have not entered a game with five receivers in uniform this season but could potentially dress Mitchell, Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Michael Floyd.
Other players listed as limited participants in practice this week are Brandon Bolden (knee), Martellus Bennett (knee), Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) and Jabaal Sheard (knee).