Former Celtic Green learning in the D-League

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Former Celtic Green learning in the D-League

ORLANDO, Fla. It's all-star weekend, and former Boston Celtic Gerald Green is stealing all the attention.

But this is in front of a sparse crowd, the kind he has grown more accustomed to during his post-Celtic career.

It's the D-League All-Star game, one in which Green's West team won, 135-132, and he was the MVP with 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting which included 3-for-8 on 3s.

Now with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League, Green is no different than the other 19 D-League all-stars, hoping his play shined brightly enough to get a call-up to the NBA.

"He'll get another shot sooner or later," one NBA scout said. "He's too talented, and he's still young. And watching him out here, he's just a different kind of athlete than the other guys here."

And the D-League is full of athletes, for sure.

But for the most part, they come with a noticeable flaw.

Big men are often undersized; guards can shoot but often have shaky ball-handling skills; some are great playmakers but can't defend.

"There's a reason -- maybe two or three reasons -- why all these guys are here," another scout said.

And then there's Green, who has the size (6-foot-8), speed and athleticism to be on just about any NBA team's roster.

Right now, the only thing that's holding him back? Opportunity.

Teams have been reluctant to roll the dice on him again, concerned with what he admits was a lack of maturity earlier in his NBA career. After two seasons with the Celtics (2006-2007), Green bounced around the next couple years with short stints in Minnesota, Houston and Dallas. After that, Green had no choice but to take his game overseas.

While he has no regrets about entering the NBA straight out of high school, he readily admits that his youth played a role in his early struggles.

"I was young, out of high school, immature things didn't click as fast as things click to me now," Green said. "I'm a lot smarter. I'm a lot more humble than I was. I don't take things for granted anymore."

That's a common sentiment for guys who have to take their talents overseas when opportunities dry up in the NBA.

"Being overseas, that's a man business," Green said. "You can't go over there being a little kid. You're in the middle of nowhere. I grew up a lot faster being overseas, which I think is a good thing."

He added, "I had to go overseas, kind of refine myself, rebuild what I had started earlier in my career."

One of the first things he's had to do is shed the image that all he can do is dunk the ball. That comes with the territory when the most notable thing on your NBA resume was winning the Slam Dunk competition in 2007. That was a big reason why he did not want to participate in the D-League's slam dunk competition on Saturday.

Today, Green wants to be seen as a more complete player who, wisely enough, does a better job of learning more from those around him.

He had a chance to spend a week with the Los Angeles Lakers before the season, and said he paid close attention to Kobe Bryant.

"He took practices like a game," Green said of Bryant. "His focus was unbelievable. That's one thing I kind of took from that."

Those lessons, coupled with his play of late for the D-Fenders -- he's averaging 19.1 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and better than 46 percent on 3s -- has the 25-year-old Green optimistic that his return to the NBA will be come eventually.

"I am so happy that things are starting to look good for me," he said. "I'm just excited."

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder. 
 

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.