Collins mans paint with KG in first start for Celtics

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Collins mans paint with KG in first start for Celtics

BOSTON Jason Collins has known Kevin Garnett since the two were highly regarded high school ballers.

Over the years, the two developed a mutual respect for one another in part because as different as they may seem, they each care deeply for the same thing when it comes to basketball - playing great defense.

And with Collins now in the starting lineup, Garnett has a big man in the first unit with a similar defense-first mindset that he hasn't been paired with since Kendrick Perkins was traded to Oklahoma City in 2010.

There have been glimpses of the Garnett and Collins on the floor together during practices as well as during the preseason games.

But it wasn't until Wednesday's 103-91 win over Cleveland did the defensive duo actually start in the same game.

Although the decision didn't become official until about an hour before tip-off, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he had been giving it serious thought for a while.

The decision didn't catch Collins off guard.

"I could feel a change was coming," Collins said. "So you know with that you've just got to be ready for anything. But I didn't get the confirmation until about 50 (minutes) before (tip-off)."

Although Wednesday was their first game starting together, you would have thought the two of them have been on the same team for years.

"He's not going to make too many mistakes," Garnett said of Collins. "He knows his role."

And having competed against Garnett for the better part of this past decade, Collins understands how big a plus it is for him at this point in his career to play with a future Hall of Famer like Garnett.

"It's better being on his team than against him," said Collins. "Obviously he's a great defender, he talks out there which is so important. I pride myself on being a defender first, and you know we are both 7-footers, so we have the height, we have the length. We're just trying to clog up the paint and make the other team shoot jump shots."

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Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

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Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

BOSTON – The Bruins needed to follow up last weekend’s win over the Islanders if they truly wanted it to be a turning point, and they followed up in victorious fashion on Tuesday night.

The Bruins scored a pair of goals early and then hung on for dear life behind a strong return effort from Tuukka Rask in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Rask stopped 24-of-25 shots for his 34th win of the season and looked both rested and recharged after taking last weekend off from on-ice action.

The win gives the Bruins two in a row, and improves their record under Bruce Cassidy at the Garden to a dominant 8-3 in 11 games.

Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring just a couple of minutes into the game when he knocked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast from long distance, and scored his 18th goal of the season. Boston’s other frontline center, David Krejci, scored 10 minutes later after taking a slick entry pass from David Pastrnak and beating Pekka Rinne five-hole.

Rask made 15 saves in the first two periods including an excellent stop on Viktor Arvidsson following a David Backes turnover on the half-wall in the second period, but the Preds finally busted through in the final period. Craig Smith tipped home a Roman Josi point shot that squeezed through Rask’s leg pads, and both Rask and the Bruins scrambled and scrapped their way through while clinging to a one-goal advantage late in the game.

A 3-on-1 odd-man rush late in the game led to Riley Nash feeding Rhode Island native Noel Acciari for his first career NHL goal in his 43rd game with the Black and Gold.