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."