Stiemsma answers the bell vs. Rockets

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Stiemsma answers the bell vs. Rockets

BOSTON -- With Jermaine ONeal sidelined by a sprained left wrist, the Boston Celtics are shorthanded at the center position. Doc Rivers has shifted Kevin Garnett to the starting five spot, and on Tuesday night, rookie Greg Stiemsma was the first off the bench to sub in for the veteran big man.

Stiemsma checked in with just under seven minutes to play in the first quarter, a change from the late-game minutes he had played in the past when the outcome has already been decided.

Going in, you know with the situation what it is, especially with the bigs, you just never know when you will play, he told CSNNE.com following the Celtics' 97-92 overtime win against the Rockets. Youve got to, from the jump, be into the game, try to get a feel for the flow from the bench, know what were going to early, know what we want to get to over our game plan. Just keep that stuff simple and go with that.

Stiemsma played 13 minutes in the first half, scoring eight point off of 4-for-6 shooting. His season (and career) highs are 13 points and 21 minutes in a win against the Washington Wizards.

Still, he wished he had done more on defense. Stiemsma grabbed only one rebound and did not block a shot.

Ive got to be ready to shoot whenever I go out there, he said. But still, my role hasnt changed. Its block every shot and get every rebound. Tonight the shots were there. Rebounds and stuff were not quite as available. You always want to get more, so I dont know how many I ended up with but I dont think it was enough. It doesnt change. Just got to keep grinding it out.

Stiemsma sees an advantage to playing with the starters, one other than being on the court with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. With so much focused placed on stopping them from scoring, it leaves Stiemsma with opportunities.

With those starters out there, Im so far down on everybodys scouting list that I can kind of hide away or sneak away a little bit and surprise some teams, he said with a laugh. But (Rajon) Rondos going to get guys shots, get guys open all the time, and with them focusing on all the other guys to score, when Im open Ive got to shoot it in order to keep those guys getting open. The shots were there tonight and I took advantage.

After a solid first half, Stiemsma did not play in the remainder of the game. With the team playing a back-to-back game on Wednesday in Philadelphia against the 76ers, Doc Rivers a reason for kept Stiemsma off the court.

Greg was terrific, he said. I was going to go with him in the second half, but I thought we had a good flow so I didnt. Its funny, sometimes youre almost protective of your young guys. You dont want to mess up his good game, in some ways because his confidence it is a game where honestly, Im thinking, Until tomorrow. Hes going to have to play some minutes and his confidence had to be high, and it should be good tomorrow.

Stiemsma has focused on preparation for the moment his name is called. In addition to studying game tape, he is also adjusted his diet, enhanced his conditioning, and gained what he estimates to be eight or ten pounds this season and is up to 240. He says he feels like he is in the best shape of his life.

The experience of a winning game helps, too.

I dont know, I feel like Ive been getting more excited on the bench lately, he said. These close games, I dont know. Theyre fun to watch, fun to be a part of.

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."