Horton still not close to return

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Horton still not close to return

KANATA, ON Those banking on a Nathan Horton return to the Bruins during the playoffs may be waiting for a while.

While there was a hubbub of excitement over the news that he skated for more than 30 minutes on his own Wednesday prior to Bruins practice, the truth is that Horton is no closer to a return than he was last week. Claude Julien was asked after practice how Horton responded to Wednesdays twirl on the ice, and he immediately slammed on the brakes.

"Don't read into the fact that he skated, cautioned Julien. He's not even close to situation where you guys might think he is for a return."

The Bs power forward has missed 34 games and six weeks of action since suffering a concussion at the hands of a blindside Tom Sestito hit on Jan. 22 and a source close to Horton indicated toCSNNE.comthat the right winger wasnt likely to return during this postseason.

Heres a couple of reasons why: Horton is still weeks away from potentially practicing withhis teammates and even if he didnt have a single setback wouldnt be ready to go until the final few rounds of the playoffs. It would be unrealistic to think that a tentative, healthy Horton would be a better option than battle-hardened Bruins wingers that made it through the first few postseason rounds.

To put it in further perspective: the year Patrice Bergeron suffered his serious concussion and harbored hopes of returning for the playoffs, he had been skating hard since the beginning of March. He might have been ready for the second round.

Horton has taken one leisurely-paced skate to see how his nagging post-concussion symptoms would respond.

Theres also this startling fact: if Horton were to return in this springs playoffs for the Bruins and suffer another concussion as the nastiness increases with each postseason round, it would be the third major head injury for the 26-year-old in less than a full year.

Thats the kind of risk that can put a players entire future at risk and its the kind of mistake the Bruins made in rushing Marc Savard along for the postseason two years ago against the Flyers.

The Bruins would be making the same kind of error in rushing Horton back because hed had a few good weeks. So the notion that Horton is giving it a crack to come back for the playoffs isnt entirely accurate.

Horton is giving it a crack at returning to full health, and the hope is that the right winger will be back to smiling, scoring goals and giving Boston a power forward capable of potting 25 goals on the right side of Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

BOSTON – For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics ran into a team that played with a greater sense of desperation.

And the result was yet another defeat as the Portland Trail Blazers, playing their second game in less than 24 hours, were able to get off their losing skid with a 127-123 overtime win over the Celtics.

Boston (26-17) has now lost back-to-back games at home, while the Blazers (19-27) snapped a four-game losing streak.

In the extra session, Portland jumped out to a 117-113 lead only for Boston’s Al Horford scoring on a bank-shot in the paint and Thomas draining a go-ahead 3-pointer for Boston.

Portland regained the lead when Al-Farouq Aminu made a pair of free throws with 59.3 seconds to play to make it a 119-118 game.

Boston soon fell behind 122-118, but a pair of Thomas free throws with 44.8 seconds to play made it a two-point game.

Mason Plumlee scored with 24 seconds to play in overtime, and an Al Horford miss – rebounded by Plumlee who was then fouled by Horford – essentially put the game away with 13.5 seconds to play.

Boston found themselves down late in the fourth quarter and seemingly headed towards defeat, only to get an unexpected lift in the final seconds from Terry Rozier.

Trailing by three points late in the fourth, Boston had one last chance to force overtime so who did they turn to?

If you were thinking Thomas which is what the Blazers and most fans were thinking, you would have been dead wrong.

The fourth quarter may be Thomas’ time to shine, but at that point in the game it was Rozier’s moment as he drained a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left that ultimately forced overtime. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench.

The Blazers came into the game with the kind of potent scoring punch in the backcourt that strikes the fear into the heart of any defense, let alone one that has been as up and down as the Boston Celtics this season.

For most of the game, Portland’s 1-2 punch of Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (35 points) lived up to the lofty billing as they combined for 63 points.

McCollum and Lillard both did their share of damage down the stretch, but it was their bench – specifically Meyers Leonard – whose play kept Portland in the game early on.

He finished with 17 points off the bench.

Boston led 65-56 at the half, but soon found itself in a 67-all game after McCollum made the second of two free throws.

But Boston countered with a put-back basket by Kelly Olynyk and a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas to push Boston’s lead to 72-67.

Once again the Blazers fought back and eventually took the lead 74-72 on a powerful put-back dunk by Haverill (Mass.) native Noah Vonleh.

Brad Stevens had seen enough of his team getting pushed around, as he called a time-out with 5:31 to play in the quarter.

It didn’t help as Portland continued to bully their way around the rim for second and third-shot opportunities with their lead peaking at 78-72 following a put-back basket by  Plumlee.

But the Celtics responded with a 7-2 spurt capped off by an end-to-end, driving lay-up by Rozier that cut Portland’s lead to 80-79 with 2:44 to play in the quarter. Boston continued to be within striking distance as the third quarter ended with the Celtics trailing 88-86.