Krejci 'missed the NHL', has moved on from last season

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Krejci 'missed the NHL', has moved on from last season

David Krejci knows that last season ended on a bad note for him personally, and for the Boston Bruins as a team. The 26-year-old struggled in the playoffs after a plexi-glass frame dropped onto his head following Game One at TD Garden against the Washington Capitals, and was greeted with trade rumors with Phoenix or Anaheim during and after the NHL season had concluded.

But that was practically a lifetime ago now. The playmaking Czech center is ready to put all of that behind him headed into this year and start anew with a Bruins team thats returning nearly the entire cast that captured a Stanley Cup two years ago.

Last year is behind me now. Ive already played some games so Ive forgotten about it, said Krejci. I just want to have a good start to the season just like the rest of the team.

Everybody is going to be hungry in the NHL. Every team is going to be hungry, said Krejci, who finished with 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in 24 games for HC Pardubice in the Czech Republic coming off a career-high 23 goals scored for the Bruins last year. Were just going to have to be hungrier than they will be. From what I saw today guys are hungry and excited, so hopefully we can get off to a good start and go from there.

The only positive for Krejci stemming from the NHL lockout was the ability to spend some extended time at home in the Czech Republic. Pardubice was more than an hour drive away from his hometown, but Krejci was able to spend Christmas and New Years with his family for the first time in 10 years.

That didnt take away the sting of missing NHL games, however.

I had never played in the Czech League before, so that was kind of nice. It was my first Christmas at home in like 10 years, so I spent it at home with my family, said Krejci. That was the biggest positive use of the whole situation. But I missed the NHL. When we were all kids we dreamed of playing in the NHL, so once you finally make it thats where you want to be. Im glad we got a deal done so we could finally play.

Krejci is expected to begin the season centering Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton on either side of him when the Bruins roll out the familiar forward lines that have served them so well over the last few years.

Lucic and Horton looked pretty good today. Im sure they kept themselves in good shape, said Krejci. Theyre fast skaters and they play a tough, northsouth game. Im going to have to try keeping up with them.

That comfort and chemistry between forward combos should breed instant success, and the short season could bring the best out in a big-game performer like Krejci.

But the playmaking pivot will have to continue chasing the game-to-game consistency hes been searching for during a successful NHL career that could still reach yet another level under the right circumstances.

Celtics hold off Heat fourth-quarter rally for 112-108 win

Celtics hold off Heat fourth-quarter rally for 112-108 win

BOSTON –  As the final 10 or so games for playoff-bound teams like the Boston Celtics were poked and prodded to see who would have the toughest go of things down the stretch, the Celtics were deemed to have the easiest go of things.

Somebody forgot to tell their foes because it seems every night the Celtics are in a down-to-the-wire battle that’s not decided until the final minute or so of play.

And Sunday’s game against the Miami Heat was no exception with the Celtics managing to outlast the Heat for a 112-108 win. 

A 3-pointer by Jae Crowder put the Celtics ahead 102-101, which was soon followed by a pair of Isaiah Thomas free throws and a Thomas lay-up which made it a 106-101 game.

Miami's James Johnson scored four straight to make it a one-point game (106-105) with a minute to play. 

But Boston managed to maintain their lead for the remainder of the game as both teams exchanged free throws and defensive stops before the Heat simply ran out of time.

Boston (48-26) has now won four in a row and and eight of its last 10. 

In addition, Sunday's victory matched the team's win total from a year ago, with eight games to play. 

And maybe most important, Boston has now set itself up to at a minimum have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a really strong shot at finishing with the top overall record in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout every round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

Both teams swapped one defensive stop for another, a free throw here with a few made baskets sprinkled in for good measure.

And with 4:50 to play, the score was tied at 99 following an Isaiah Thomas lay-up.

Boston went on a 7-2 run capped off by a driving lay-up by Thomas that made it 106-101.

But the Heat responded with a James Johnson dunk followed by a pair of free throws by Johnson which made it a 106-105 game with 1:23 to play.

Boston countered with – who else? – Isaiah Thomas whose driving lay-up which was set up by a Marcus Smart offensive rebound, gave the Celtics a 108-105 lead with 60 seconds to play when Miami called a time-out.

Thomas led all scorers with 30 points while Horford once again flirted with a triple-double, finishing with seven points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. 

This game being so close down the stretch wasn’t all that surprising when you consider it was a relatively close game most of the night.

Trailing 58-53 at the half, the Celtics knew that changes had to be made in order for them to regain control.

It didn’t take long to see that the Celtics’ plan of attack in the second half was to do just that … attack!

They were more aggressive offensively with their drives and ball movement.

Defensively, their close-outs were tighter, rotations more crisp.

Within minutes, the Celtics had the game tied up on an Amir Johnson basket and 3-pointer from Jae Crowder.

Boston began to get some separation behind a 9-2 run that gave them a 79-73 lead, and closed the quarter off by scoring six of the last eight points to lead 85-75 going into the fourth.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Maye hits late jumper to lift North Carolina to Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Maye hits late jumper to lift North Carolina to Final Four

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Luke Maye hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds left, and top-seeded North Carolina held off Kentucky 75-73 to earn the Tar Heels' second straight trip to the Final Four and 20th all-time in Sunday's showdown of college basketball's elite in the South Regional.

The Tar Heels (31-7) will play Midwest champ Oregon on Saturday in Phoenix in the national semifinal.

North Carolina took control with a 12-0 run within the final 5 minutes. Kentucky's freshmen De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk hit three quick 3s, the last two by Monk and his second with 7.2 seconds left tied it up at 73.

Theo Pinson brought the ball down, passed back to Maye. The sophomore from Huntersville, North Carolina, knocked it down for the win with his feet on the 3-point line.

The Wildcats had one last chance, but Derek Willis' inbound pass went out of bounds on the far end.

Kentucky (32-6) will miss out on the Final Four for the second straight year.