Energetic Hollins provides spark

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Ryan Hollins throws down an alley-oop vs. the Hawks.ATLANTA -- If the Celtics had found a way to steal Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series on Tuesday night against the Hawks, the contributions of center Ryan Hollins would have likely garnered far greater attention.

With rookie center Greg Stiemsma struggling on the defensive end in his early shifts (he did have one phenomenal block on Josh Smith), Celtics coach Doc Rivers rolled the dice with Hollins, whose energy provided a nice spark on a night when Boston's stars labored at times. Hollins chipped in 5 points, 4 rebounds, and a block over 19:02, his most extensive postseason action with the Celtics.

“(Hollins) was terrific. He was out there in place of Stiemsma and Brandon (Bass) -- everybody -- and his energy was great," said Rivers. "The one thing you know when Ryan comes into the game is that something is going to happen -- it could be good or bad -- but something is going to happen. That’s why we put him in and we rode him.

"He’s an instigator with how hard he plays. He gets under people’s skin and that’s fine by us.”

Hollins actually drew a couple fouls under the basket as frustrated members of the Hawks' frontcourt seemed irked by his exuberance. Asked if he was trying to get under their skin, Hollins smiled and said, "Hopefully. But my job is just to come out here and play hard. That’s what this team is about: hard work, defense, and effort."

Hollins, whose rebounding has long been a trouble spot, has been trying to make up for what he lacks in terms of strength around the basket with energy and athleticism. It translated on both ends Tuesday night.

"I’m always trying to bring energy. If i’m not bringing energy or changing the game, I’m not doing my job," said Hollins. "That’s what I do."

Hollins scored all of his points in the second half, catching (and finishing) a pair of pretty alley-oop lobs from point guard Rajon Rondo to aid Boston in rallying out of a double-digit hole and nearly stealing the game. Hollins lobbed all the credit to his point guard for the rare offensive outburst (he hadn't scored a point in 22 minutes of action over the previous three games).

"Rondo’s going to click well with anybody, the type of point guard and player he is," said Hollins. "He's such a great player, he makes everybody around him better."