Rivers on Dooling: 'He's just coming on'

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Rivers on Dooling: 'He's just coming on'

MINNEAPOLIS Keyon Dooling is an 11-year veteran, but he might as well be a wet-behind-the-ear rookie when it comes to gaining the trust of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers to put him on the floor during critical moments.

Dooling's presence has been a huge plus for the C's locker room, but multiple injuries along with a condensed schedule have afforded him few opportunities to prove his worth on the court.

Now that he's healthy, the 6-foot-3 guard is starting to string together the kind of play the Celtics envisioned him providing.

And the timing could not be better, with the C's (28-22) in a tightly contested race for the Atlantic Division crown all while once again dealing with injuries.

There were a number of players who stepped up in Boston's 94-82 win over Utah on Wednesday, but few delivered as big a shot as Dooling's 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that broke open a 66-all tie after the C's squandered an 18-point lead.

"Keyon, he's just coming on," said Rivers.

Boston came into the season planning to play Dooling at both guard positions off the bench, although more time would be spent as Rajon Rondo's backup at the point. That would have allowed Avery Bradley to come off the bench and play the bulk of his minutes behind Ray Allen.

But a sore right knee injury kept Dooling out for seven games in January. Less than a week after returning from that injury, he suffered a hip pointer injury that kept him out for another nine games.

With him out, Bradley played more at the point and has since blossomed into a reliable role player off the bench, or a last-minute fill-in as a starter.

Bradley, a second-year guard who played sparingly as a rookie, has indeed come a long way in gaining Rivers' trust.

And he did it the only way it can be done, and that's making the most of every opportunity to play.

Dooling is starting to follow a similar path with the C's now.

"At the end of the day, everybody's banged up this time of year," Dooling said. "But I'm starting to earn Doc's trust a little more; starting to find my niche and role on this team. I want to continue to try and execute it every night."

That means coming into the game, providing solid defense, steady play in the backcourt and when given an opportunity to make a difference, not shying away from the moment.

Dooling did just that in Wednesday's win.

In addition to the 3-pointer he hit to break a 66-all tie, Dooling would later drill a 20-foot jumper that put the C's up by five points. Boston was able to maintain a two-possession lead or greater for the rest of the night.

Boston went into the fourth clinging to a five-point lead. To see it wiped out less than a minute into the fourth, Rivers would have been justified in yanking the backups and bringing more starters back on the floor.

But Rivers stuck with the second-unit guys like Dooling, and they rewarded him with some clutch plays that went far in extending Boston's home winning streak to seven in a row.

For Dooling, it was just another example of the ebb and flow in his first season with the Celtics.

"Just because you're not a young player means you're exempt from the emotions of the game," Dooling said. "You ride the highs, and sometimes you feel the lows. We're at a point now where a team makes a run, you don't get snatched out. You being out there being able to make plays is a gratifying feeling."

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

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Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.

There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.

“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”

Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.

Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.

“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”

The one facet of the four year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.

So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.