Garnett teaching Hollins both on and off the court

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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 toldCSNNE.com. "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."

Jets coach Todd Bowles: 'Garoppolo can play'

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Jets coach Todd Bowles: 'Garoppolo can play'

The Jets don't have to play the Patriots during the first four weeks of the season, but they'll be watching as their division rivals go to work with Jimmy Garoppolo behind center. 

Jets head coach Todd Bowles is expecting more of the same from New England despite Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

"Garoppolo can play," Bowles told the New York Daily News. "They don't worry about who they have. They just have a system in place and they go play football. I think people underestimate that. You still have to knock off the champs. It's theirs until somebody takes it from them."

The Patriots haven't had a quarterback other than Brady take snaps of consequence since Brady tore his ACL in Week 1 of the 2008 season. Garoppolo is still a relative unknown given his 31 total pass attempts over the last two years, but with coach Bill Belichick still on the sidelines, and Belichick's system still in place, Bowles is assuming the Patriots will be a very good team once again -- even without their best player for the first month of the season. 

"They got a good team," Bowles said. "It's not just us. It's everybody. We split 1-1 (against them last year). They're a tough team. They're a tough out. They've had a coach and a quarterback and a system in place for a long time. There's a bunch of ways to skin a cat. They've found pretty good ways to skin it. They do what they have to."

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro Martinez knows what it takes to be an ace. He also knows what it takes to pitch successfully in Boston.

And he believes David Price is capable of being the former and has the makeup to achieve the latter -- in time.

"I would just say, as a human being, I would say (he) has to make adjustments,'' said Martinez when asked what advice he would give Price. "It's the first year on a team that holds a lot of expectations. For David, it's just a matter of probably understanding how he feels comfortable around the things that he does, what David Price needs for David Price to feel more comfortable and make the adjustment as quick as possible.

"I believe he's capable of it. He's given a lot of signs that he's the ace we all expect. And, to be honest, I think he's going to be alright. It's just a matter of making the adjustment as quickly as possible.''

Whether Price may be trying too hard to justify his landmark $217 million deal, or unsure of how to handle the disappointing results he's provided, Martinez suggested that Price has to be mentally tough.

"Sometimes, it's within you what you can do,'' he said. "I think he has to trust what he can do. I think that probably trusting what he knows and what he's capable of doing would be the biggest key.''

Whatever the reason, Martinez doesn't believe there's a physical explanation for Price's struggles.

"I don't see anything wrong,'' he said. "His velocity is there. He can last eight, nine innings, easily. He's in great shape. He looks good overall, except some games just don't go his way and sometimes it doesn't look like everything (works) for him. But I believe he just has to trust what he is, the presence he has and his knowledge.

"It's up to you sometimes to say, 'Hey I know this. I know this situation, so I'm just going to go approach it.' And that's probably what he needs to do - is just trust who he is, what he knows and the stuff he has.''

When asked if he would approach Price and deliver a message, Martinez was careful.

''I don't want to invade anybody's territory,'' he said. "I would like to be respectful to him and also the coaching staff. I'm part of the organization. I'm here to help. But like I said, the biggest adjustment is the adjustment David Price makes. It's not really what Pedro says, or what Pedro used to do. David Price is David Price; Pedro Martinez is Pedro Martinez.''

Martinez was also asked about Clay Buchholz, who is currently serving a mop-up man in the bullpen.

"Bucky lost a little bit of confidence,'' said Martinez. "That's what it looks like to me. Right now, he doesn't really have a path to follow and I think he's missing (Jon) Lester, big time. He's missing (John) Lackey. He's missing probably relating to someone just like him, who really understands him from back (in the day) -- David Ross, Jason Varitek.

"I think he's mature enough to kind of understand what to do. But some people don't actually have that ability to understand what to do when times of struggles come.''

Finally, Martinez was asked about his reaction to the Red Sox dealing away pitching phenom Anderson Espinoza in the trade for Drew Pomeranz. Martinez had been a vocal supporter of Espinoza and predicted stardom for him.

"The thing is, you have to understand, this team is trying to work for today, for this year. That's the reason you produce those kind of players, so you can have the flexibility to move to different areas,” Martinez said. “I was extremely proud that I was part of the (group) that saw Espinoza from the first time and hopefully now the trade we made is going to end up helping us win the championship.

"And Espinoza probably will feel really proud that, if we win it this year, he was probably the biggest reason.''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics’ pick Demetrius Jackson gets 4-year, $5.5M deal

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Report: Celtics’ pick Demetrius Jackson gets 4-year, $5.5M deal

The Celtics and second-round pick Demetrius Jackson have finalized a four-year, $5.5 millon contract, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reported.

Jackson, a point guard out of Notre Dame, was the 45th overall pick. He was projected by some as a first-rounder before the draft and the first year of his deal is likely to be guaranteed. Last year, Celtics’ second-round pick Jordan Mickey signed a four-year, $5 million deal as the 33rd pick overall.

Jackson will face plenty of training camp competition in a crowded group of backcourt players for the C’s.