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."

Price turns in encouraging effort in first 2017 start

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Price turns in encouraging effort in first 2017 start

CHICAGO — It’s a start, literally and figuratively.

David Price showed some great velocity in his 2017 Red Sox debut Monday afternoon, hitting 97 mph -- heat he didn’t have last year. At times, the pitcher the Sox badly need to return to form flashed high-level effectiveness as well.

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What everyone expected would be off in Price's first start back, his command, was indeed shaky, considering he allowed more runs (three) than hits (two). But he wasn’t expected to be in tip-top form, and he did a decent job overall.

Price's five-inning, three-run performance against the White Sox came almost exactly three months after he first felt elbow soreness during spring training. The lefty exited with the Red Sox ahead 4-3, though he lost the chance at his first 2017 victory when Chicago scored in the seventh.

All three runs off Price scored on a Melky Cabrera homer in the third inning, which put the White Sox ahead 3-1 at the time. Price walked only two batters on the day, but they happened to be the two hitters in front of Cabrera.

The walk started with the No. 9 hitter, Adam Engel. Tim Anderson, who had drawn just four walks in 181 plate appearances entering the day, got a free pass as well.

But besides the Cabrera homer on a first-pitch fastball that was middle-in, the only other hit Price allowed was a shallow bloop single to center field.

Price finished with four strikeouts, including the first batter he faced on the day, Anderson.

His command issues were nonetheless clear. Price hit two batters to begin his final frame, setting up a fine play for Deven Marrero to record a force out at second before Xander Bogaerts started a inning-ending double play with a fantastic dive, bailing Price out of the first-and-third jam with one out.

With 88 pitches and 58 strikes, Price was more efficient than he was in two rehab outings at Triple-A Pawtucket, and he didn’t get rocked. But he also wasn’t as efficient as the Red Sox will need him to be.

Price was pitching in a calm, pleasant environment (clear skies, temperatures in the 70s, low humidity) that might actually have been more comfortable than the colder clime Price faced in Pawtucket -- where both the fans and temperatures were chilly.

The Red Sox were aggressive bringing Price back so quickly, and set themselves up for a second guess if something went wrong. But Price preserved the second of two leads his offense gave him and didn’t let the game get out of hand. After the Cabrera homer put the White Sox up two, the Red Sox answered immediately in the top of the fourth to tie at 3-3.

The argument that Price did better than anyone else would have in his place is a fair one, considering John Farrell and Co. slated Price to pitch Monday before they watched Brian Johnson’s complete-game shutout.

The bigger question was always about what was best for Price’s future, and Monday looks like something he can build on. He may have benefited from the adrenaline of being back in the majors.

Pedroia lifted in second inning after hurting wrist in collision

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Pedroia lifted in second inning after hurting wrist in collision

CHICAGO -- Injury scares are finding Dustin Pedroia in all the wrong places.

The Red Sox second baseman was pulled in the second inning Monday afternoon against the White Sox because of a left wrist sprain, an injury he seemed to suffer on a collision running to first base in the top of the first inning.

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He and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu converged on the bag at the same time on a grounder to Abreu, and Pedroia tumbled over Abreu

Pedroia had season-ending surgery on the wrist in September 2014, addressing a tendon issue. Pedroia had surgery on his left knee this year, and missed time after Manny Machado's slide caught him in that leg in April.

Pedroia during the last homestand was pulled as a precaution because of concern for that leg.

Josh Rutledge took over for Pedroia at second base.