Crosby's return right around the corner?


Crosby's return right around the corner?

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Sidney Crosby's head is clear. The superstar's return, however, remains murky. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain participated in his first full practice since concussion-like symptoms resurfaced in December and there is growing optimism he'll be back before the playoffs begin next month. The ever-cautious Crosby insists there still is no timetable on when he'll be cleared to play in a game, but he looked crisp while spending more than an hour on the Consol Energy Center ice. "It's a good step," Crosby said. "Hopefully, I can keep the momentum and get out there soon." Though the headaches and motion issues that have bothered him intermittently since a loss to Boston on Dec. 5 have subsided, Crosby has been through this drill too often over the last 14 months to get too excited. The 24-year-old former MVP was spectacular in his return from a 10-month layoff in November, scoring twice in his season debut against the New York Islanders and collecting 12 points in eight games before he woke up with an all-too familiar feeling on Dec. 6. During that initial comeback he was cleared for contact in early October and had to wait about six weeks before getting the OK to suit up for a game. It may not take that long this time. "I'm going to give myself days, for sure, of contact," Crosby said. "If you look at our schedule, we have two more practices, I think, this week. No sooner than Sunday I would say but I'm not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork." Coach Dan Bylsma echoed Crosby's sentiments, but made sure Crosby got bounced around during a lively practice session. "It was man-on-man type stuff, some puck battles," Bylsma said. "We had him get through today, we'll see where we progress on day three, four, five and six." Crosby called the lineup "a dangerous place to be" and felt he "was getting a lot of bumps out there." It was a welcome feeling after three anxious months in which Crosby crisscrossed the country visiting specialists in hopes of getting a better handle on his health. Tests conducted out in California in late January discovered a previously undiagnosed soft tissue injury in his neck that mimics a concussion. He took a shot as part of the treatment and claims the results have been largely positive. "It's nice to be symptom free, but it's not as fulfilling until you get out there," Crosby said. "I just want to make sure that I take the right steps here and get back out there soon." The Penguins have surged over the last two months even with Crosby watching from a suite well above the ice. Pittsburgh has a six-game winning streak going into Wednesday's game against Toronto behind the play of MVP-candidate Evgeni Malkin and wingers Chris Kunitz and James Neal. Kunitz has typically teamed with Crosby since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2009, but Crosby doesn't expect Bylsma to break up arguably the league's hottest line whenever he's cleared to play. "They have a perfect mix of guys there to create every shift," Crosby said. Crosby has been pushing himself during non-contact drills in recent weeks and enjoyed getting knocked around on Tuesday. Yet he knows nothing can replicate game action. All he can do is get prepared. After that, it's up to chance. Either way, he's feeling better both on and off the ice. Considering what he's gone through the last 14 months, that's good news. "It's just one of those things where you get used to having things for so long you forget what normal is," he said. "I feel like normal has been a lot more regularly."

Chicago Bulls sign former Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter


Chicago Bulls sign former Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter

Minutes before they opened their regular season Thursday against the Celtics, the Bulls announced the signing of shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Chippy first half between Celtics-Bulls


Halftime stars, studs and duds: Chippy first half between Celtics-Bulls

Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder are former teammates at Marquette. Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo have tremendous respect for one another as competitors.

But in the heat of battle, friendships and respect can at times fall by the wayside which is exactly what happened in the first half between these two Eastern Conference foes.

After a chippy first half, the Bulls went into the half ahead 57-49.

The last couple of minutes in the second quarter were much closer than the halftime score would indicate.

Butler drained a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer sounded that nearly doubled Chicago’s halftime lead.

His shot brought a conclusion to a first half which included four technical being called on one play in which Crowder was whistled for an offensive foul.

On that play, Butler seemed to tie up Crowder’s legs with both players on the floor. Crowder then seemed to forcefully put the ball in Butler’s chest. That led to some back-and-forth smack talk between Thomas and Rondo.

All four players were whistled for technical fouls.

Chicago opened the game with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 15 points.

As the Celtics soon discovered, finding open spots on the floor against the Bulls was much, much tougher than it was 24 hours earlier against the Nets.

Chicago continued to play with control and led by double digits throughout the second quarter.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of tonight’s Boston-Chicago game.



Dwyane Wade

The prodigal son looked good in his first game playing in front of lots of family and friends. He led all scorers with 14 points which included 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

Avery Bradley

The Celtics seemed to have found their stride in the second quarter with Bradley leading the charge. He led all Boston players with 12 points at the half.

Jimmy Butler

The face of the Bulls franchise got off to a slow start, but soon picked up his play at both ends of the floor in the second quarter. He had 11 points at the half along with grabbing five rebounds.



Taj Gibson

He was a problem for the Boston Celtics right from the start, providing the kind of low-post scoring the Bulls will be looking for in the second half. At the half, Gibson had eight points and six rebounds.

Rajon Rondo

The former Boston Celtic was doing what he has done well for most of his career – getting others involved. At the half Rondo had three points and a game-high six assists with four rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas

Boston needed him to be more of a scorer than a facilitator on Thursday, and Thomas was more than willing to oblige. He had 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting.



Celtics 3-point defense

The Bulls got one good look after another from 3-point range, with the Celtics showing few signs of making the necessary adjustments. The Bulls connected on 53.8 percent of their 3-pointers (7-for-13) in the first half.