Celtics' Johnson stays patient, waits for opportunity

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Celtics' Johnson stays patient, waits for opportunity

INDIANAPOLIS JaJuan Johnson received plenty of advice from folks in preparation for his first NBA season.

None of the conversations centered around the need for patience, something Johnson is learning he'll need plenty of this season.

"People say my time will come," Johnson, who is from Indianapolis and played at nearby Purdue, told CSNNE.com. "I know it will. When it happens, I'll be ready."

Johnson's time to shine may be tonight as the Boston Celtics try to snap a three-game losing skid against the Indiana Pacers.

Boston's Kevin Garnett had a noticeable limp following Friday's loss to Chicago. It is unclear if Garnett will play tonight. Even if he does, his minutes may be even more limited than they already are currently.

The C's will surely be looking for some kind of spark off the bench. For Johnson, it would be a fitting time and place for that to happen.

With hundreds of family and friends in the stands, Johnson would love nothing more than to get an opportunity to play decent minutes in front of so many of the people who supported him at Purdue.

Most of Johnson's days are spent on the scout team, well aware that his chances of playing most nights aren't very good.

"Obviously, I'd like to play more," he said. "But it's definitely valuable stuff I probably couldn't get on another team, just from playing behind KG (Kevin Garnett) and learning from a point guard like (Rajon) Rondo. Those are the kind of things, you really can't get from a lot of teams. I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from those guys and other veterans."

And while patience may not have been a topic of discussion prior to entering the NBA, Johnson says this isn't the first time he has started a season buried on the depth chart.

"It reminds me a lot of my freshman year of college," Johnson said.

There were a couple players ahead of him on the depth chart, so he didn't play a lot of minutes at first.

The following year? - First team, All-Big 10.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been impressed with Johnson's work ethic, which is essential for a young player who isn't playing much early in their career. As long as Johnson continues to work at becoming a better player, the Celtics coaching staff will continue pushing him to reach his full potential as a player.

"We're patient with young guys, as long as young guys want to be taught," Rivers said. "It took me about a year of coaching to realize potential with character turns out to be good player. Potential with no character turns out to be the guy that keeps being traded. You get impatient with that, where you try to get a guy to be a better player, and they can't get out of themselves; they're so much into themselves, they're unteachable."

That doesn't appear to be an issue with Johnson, who has been taken under the wing of Kevin Garnett.

"Not playing does nothing but motivate me," Johnson said. "I just want to get better and learn as much as I can. I'm not satisfied by many means in not playing. I just work even harder. That's my mentality. That's how it's always been."

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Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

It sounds like Claude Julien has reached a breaking point with a fragile, inconsistent group of Bruins players who have lost four games in a row at a critical point in the season.

The Bruins dropped a 5-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday afternoon, and completely fell apart in the final period after Tuukka Rask was lifted because of migraine issues in the middle of the game. It was a typical Bruins effort, in which there weren’t enough scoring chances despite 45 shots on net -- largely from the perimeter -- and the defense totally unraveled in the third period once the Penguins got their offense going.

After the loss, the embattled Julien challenged his players, saying they weren’t providing enough across the board . . . which has largely been the case for the last two months as the Bruins have stagnated as a team.

“If you look at some of the mistakes we made, it’s a team that just got unraveled there in the third period,” he told reporters after the game. “With the opportunities that we had, we don’t capitalize on them. You always give the goaltender on the other side some (Matt Murray) credit. He was good tonight but at the same time, if you’re going to win hockey games, you’ve got to find ways to get [shots] through to him.

"It’s frustrating. There are a lot of guys that, right now, aren’t giving us enough, and this is a team that I think needs all 20 guys going in order to win. We don’t have enough talent to think that we can get away with a mediocre game, so this is where it’s important for our guys to understand that and it’s important to have 20 guys that want to go. It’s okay to have talent, but you’ve got to compete. For others, you’ve got to get involved. You’ve got to be willing to do the things that are not fun to do but are going to help your hockey club. It’s too bad because I think the players we expect a lot out of every night are certainly battling every night, but we need more than that . . .

“When you’ve lost three, now four in a row, it sets in. We’ve got to find a way to turn this around and start going back to the drawing board with our guys respecting what they need to do and be patient enough to give it time to turn around. When I say patience I don’t mean we need to do it in the next week. We need to do it next game but we need to respect what we’ve done well and when we’re in our game and within our structure we’ve had success but in order to be within the structure, you’ve got to be willing to want to do those things. Right now, we don’t have everybody and it just takes one guy not to want to do his job and it throws everybody else off. We have to look at personnel that way, and say that if we need to replace some guys, and we need to be patient with others, I want guys that care and want guys that want to come in and give it their all every night. We need more of that, and we don’t have enough right now.”

It remains to be seen what, or who, Julien is referring to when he mentioned personnel during his postgame comments, but it’s clear he's well aware the effort hasn’t been consistently good enough over the last two months.
 
The Bruins have dropped to third in the Atlantic Division, with the Maple Leafs just a point behind them while holding a whopping six games in hand. Even struggling teams like the Panthers, Lightning and Hurricanes have caught up to the B’s in the playoff race, while holding games in hand.

The B’s are in big, big trouble at this point in the season, and it doesn’t get any easier with games against an improving Red Wings club and the dominant Penguins prior to a much-needed break recess for the All-Star break.