Patriots

Horton responds to Julien's criticism with two goals

644972.jpg

Horton responds to Julien's criticism with two goals

TAMPA Nathan Horton thinks that maybe sometimes the expectations for him get a little out of control.

After all, the right wing is tied with Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand for the second-highest number of goals on the Bruins, and he feels like hes always skating hard and hustling. But that didnt stop Hortons coach from calling him out after an invisible performance against the Florida Panthers, and imploring that the Bruins need more out of him.

Perhaps Claude Julien has a future in motivational speaking along the lines of Matt Foley because Horton responded to the pointed remarks with a pair of goals in Bostons 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Both scores came from Horton attacking the area around the net. The first was simple tenacity going toward the net following his own shot, and the second was a sniper shot from the high slot area after tracking down an Andrew Ference shot blocked by defenders.

The winger said after the game he wasnt inspired by his coachs challenge, and instead it was about supporting his teammates in a time of need. With Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand out of commission the Bs needed some ascension to Hortons game, and they got it. His team-high six shots on net showed a commitment to creating much more offense than the three total shots attempted in the previous three games.

The two goals were red light proof of that, but dont ever confuse Horton with Wayne Gretzky.

Julien is the coach and he can say whatever he wants. I dont want to comment on that, said Horton. Im here for my teammates and obviously I want to be good for them. I think thats all that matters. I just want to keep working hard and things are going to come.

I definitely need to get shots on net more. Im not Wayne Gretzky. Sometimes people think I am. I want to do the best I can and Im out there trying. Whether its back-checking or just working hard I just always want to be myself. I do need to get my shots off and get more than one or two . . . thats something I need to work on.

While Hortons coach was happy with his forwards offensive exploits, the line of Horton along with David Krejci and Milan Lucic have given up five goals to the opposition over the last two games. Thats a losing balance their line needs to rectify.

Work around the net is his strength. Hes one of those guys that when he takes it to the net hes a big strong guy, he stays on the puck and hes going to score some goals, said Julien. He gave us some good offense, but its unfortunate in a way because their line gave up three tonight. Theyve been on for five goals in the last two games and were certainly looking for more out of that line.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

MORE:

 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE