McHale made strong impact on Garnett, Lee

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McHale made strong impact on Garnett, Lee

BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee were closely tied to Hall of Famer Kevin McHale before either played for his former team, the Boston Celtics.

When McHale returned to the TD Garden on Friday as head coach of the Houston Rockets, his two former players were eager to reflect on their time under his watch.

McHale has been part of Garnett's basketball career since the day he entered the league in 1995. He held the role of Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves when they drafted Garnett with the fifth overall pick 18 years ago. McHale served as head coach during the 2004-05 season, and was in the front office when the Timberwolves traded Garnett to the Celtics in 2007.

"Kevin hasn't been my coach for a long time but he's taught me a lot," said Garnett. "So I see the similarities and I see some things I remember that are refreshing to my mind sometimes when I'm watching his teams play. The disadvantage is that he taught me everything so he's probably telling them everything that I know. But in competition it's always good to see people you've worked with before still in the game, still a part of the game."

Lee spent much less time with McHale but the impact was still as strong. McHale became the head coach of the Houston Rockets for the 2011-12 season when Lee was a guard for the team. In one season, they developed a close bond that meant just as much on the court as it did off to Lee.

"He's a great coach," said Lee. "He's a great communicator. He'll come out there if somebody's not getting it right and talk to them until they get it right without getting on them. He's positive. As a person, he's just a great person."

Playing under both McHale and Doc Rivers, two former NBA players, Lee sees similarities in their approach with their players and a few differences in their systems.

"They're similar in the case that both of them are players' coaches," said Lee. "They both played the game and they've been apart of it they understand what players need to get going and what not. But as far as system-wise, Doc's more of an instructor with his system as far as running sets, executing. As far as McHale, he has that trust in players where he lets you go out there and just play."

Garnett and Lee got the win over their former coach on Friday, as the Celtics beat the Rockets, 103-91. Garnett finished the night with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Lee had one of his strongest showing of the season with 14 points.

Regardless of the outcome, they welcome him to the Garden any time.

"I think Kevin's one of the best teachers I've been around," said Garnett. "He has a lot to give to the game, always has. He loves basketball, so any time you have someone who loves basketball that much, it's good that they're still around."

Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

FOXBORO -- Anyone hoping to see Vincent Valentine make his season debut got some bad news Friday. 

Valentine, who has been inactive for both of the Patriots' first two games with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. ESPN's Field Yates was first to report the news.

With Valentine on IR, Geneo Grissom was added to the roster from the practice squad. ESPN's Mike Reiss had that one first:

Valentine, whom the Pats chose 96th overall in 2016, has not been practicing with the team as he's dealt with the knee injury.

A third-round pick of the Pats in 2015, Grissom was released by the team in September and signed to the practice squad a day later. 

Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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