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Lionel Hollins: "We're a work in progress"

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Lionel Hollins spoke with Mike Lupica Thursday and said all the right things after his team did a lot of wrong things on Wednesday night, losing to the Celtics by 16, 121-105.  Summing it up, Hollins called his team a "work in progress" and wondered aloud if the team's eight-day trip to China was part of the problem.

"We’re a work in progress," Hollins said. "We haven’t had as much work as we would’ve liked after going on the China trip. We didn’t really have the days of practice that we would’ve liked, but it’s all part of growing and becoming a good team.

"I still believe we’re going to get there, but it’s going to take a lot of work by us as coaches and by the players, as well. I think they’re willing to put in the work, and we’re not going to be the same team in January and February."

Hollins also seemed to suggest that he may need to push his charges more than he expected.  He didn't call them "soft" but he did use words like "nice guys" and "super guys."

"I’ve learned being on the inside that I have to push them harder. When you have guys that are kind of radical and you get on them a little bit — they go out and try to tear somebody’s head off when they’re competing. When you get on nice guys a little bit, they tend to nod their head and say, ‘OK coach,’ and they keep playing the same way."

As for individual players, Hollins said that whenever Brook Lopez returns, he will not have any minutes restrictions, noting he had none in preseason and his mild sprain won't change things.  He also suggested that expectations for Bojan Bogdanovic might have been too high but still likes what he sees.

"There’s a lot of high expectations for him. I think maybe too high," Hollins said. "What I see is a guy who has a lot of versatility, who can do a lot of different things, but there’s still an adjustment period in him coming over from Europe."

Meanwhile, two players who had injury question marks -- Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett -- played well enough, at least on offense, Wednesday with D-Will noting,  "I'll play better. I think we'll all play better than we did [Wednesday]. We're still trying to jell as a team, trying to get our timing down."