Happy New Year? Bulls embarressed by Bobcats who ended 18 game losing streak

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Kemba Walker had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Charlotte Bobcats ended an 18-game losing streak with a 91-81 victory against the stunned Bulls on Tuesday.Gerald Henderson added 16 points and former Bull Ben Gordon had 15 to help Charlotte snap the second-longest skid in team history. It was the Bobcats’ first victory in their past 10 road games.Luol Deng scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Carlos Boozer also had a double-double with 19 points and 14 boards.Charlotte fended off several rallies by the Bulls, who never held a lead, to win for the first time since Nov. 24.Tied at 65 heading into the fourth quarter, Charlotte went on a 10-0 run to pad its lead as boos began raining down from the irritated Bulls faithful, who have endured inconsistency as they await the return of former MVP Derrick Rose, who is recovering from knee surgery.The Bulls chipped away at a 12-point deficit in the third quarter, eventually tying the game at 65 on Richard Hamilton’s second-chance jumper with 39 seconds left, but they went ice-cold from the field in the fourth.Squandering an ample lead is nothing new to the Bobcats — hanging onto one is.Charlotte led by as many as 21 in the first half Saturday against New Orleans, eventually losing 98-95.It looked to be the same old story for the Bobcats heading into the fourth, but a 10-0 run to start the quarter gave the Bobcats enough momentum to stop a seemingly never-ending losing streak.The new year couldn’t come quick enough for Charlotte (8-23), which narrowly avoided posting a 0-16 calendar month for the second time in 2012. The Bobcats went 0-16 in April to end last season on a franchise-worst 23-game losing streak.Ramon Sessions scored 11 first-half points to give Charlotte a five-point advantage at the break. He finished with 15.The Bobcats shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half, but struggled from the free throw line, hitting just six of 15 attempts to keep the Bulls in the game.The Bulls (16-13) shot 35.1 percent from the floor and hit just four of 16 3-point attempts.

NOTES—Kirk Hinrich was ruled out before the game due to “a compilation of things,” according to coach Tom Thibodeau. He is considered day-to-day.. Thibodeau said he was “sad” to hear about the firing of Bears head coach Lovie Smith. “You hate to see anyone lose their job, but that’s the nature of the beast,” he said.. Bobcats F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (scratched right cornea) did not play after being poked in the eye during a 98-95 loss to New Orleans on Saturday.

10-6 but no Playoffs again do in Lovie Smith who is out as Bears Coach after nine seasons.

LAKE FOREST—On a typical “Black Monday” many NFL Coaches were fired. For the first time in nine years,the Bears are looking for a Head Coach. Lovie Smith was told by General Manager Phil Emery that he will not return for the last season on his contract.The Bears won 10 games, including a wins over hapless Cardinals and Lions, but missed the playoffs for the second straight year. In nine seasons with the Bears Smiuth went 81-63, including a Super Bowl appearance in February 2007 but they lost to the Colts. The Bears also made the NFC Title game two years ago,but fell to the Packers.The Bears have now missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, and the offense almost always lagged behind the defense. Smith came to the Bears from St. Louis, where he was the defensive coordinator under Mike Martz.He claimed he could beat Green Bay and had early success against the Bears chief rivals,but they have now lost six straight to the Packers and Lovie’s overall mark against them was 6-10. Emery will meet the Media Tuesday Morning at Halas Hall.


Bears eliminated by Vikes win over Pack. Four takeaways and dumb(as usual)play by Lions help Bears hold on for 26-24 win

DETROIT—Jay Cutler and the Bears held on late against turnover-prone Detroit.Then, the waiting began.But Minnesota beat Green Bay which eliminated the Bears for the fifth time in six years.Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late scramble — with a 26-24 win over the Lions on Sunday.The Bears (10-6) needed a Minnesota loss to Green Bay to reach the postseason.They didn’t get it. The win Bears eliminated the defending champion New York Giants from the playoff picture.

“I don’t usually say this, but ‘Go Pack Go,”‘ Cutler said.It didn’t help.

Minnesota played Green Bay started as part of the later session of Sunday afternoon games. There were some quiet groans in the Bears locker room after the Vikings scored an early touchdown on TV.The Lions (4-12) lost their last eight games and turned the ball over four times in the finale. Calvin Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the first player with 2,000 yards receiving in a season.Detroit trailed 20-3 late in the first half but pulled within two in the fourth quarter and had the ball at its own 9-yard line before a three-and-out forced a punt.The Bears ran out the last 3:40, with Cutler’s 19-yard run on third down keeping the drive going.

“We did what we needed to do. The rest is out of our control,” coach Lovie Smith said. “All we can do now is hold our breath and watch.”

Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 yards receiving the previous weekend, finished at 1,964 after catching five passes for 72 yards.

“It’s hard to shut down Calvin Johnson, but we just put as many guys as we possibly could on him,” Smith said. “We doubled him a lot, and we were always rolling extra guys at him. We didn’t want to get anything deep; we wanted him to earn everything he got underneath.”

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford went 24 of 42 for 272 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He finished the season with an NFL-record 727 pass attempts, surpassing Drew Bledsoe’s mark of 691 from 1994.Stafford fell short of a second consecutive 5,000-yard season, finishing at 4,967 through the air.The Lions scored two straight touchdowns to make it 20-17 in the third quarter, but the Bears, who came into the game with a league-high 40 takeaways, forced another turnover.Stafford’s fumble gave the Bears the ball at the Detroit 13. It was the fourth time the Bears started a drive inside the Detroit 25, and they ended up kicking a field goal.Olindo Mare added another field goal, a 20-yarder with 10:47 left in the fourth, to make it 26-17. Stafford’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie pulled Detroit closer, but it wasn’t enough.Cutler threw a 55-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery to the Detroit 27 on the Bears first play from scrimmage, delighting the many Beare fans in attendance at Ford Field. But that drive stalled, and the Bears actually had to punt after Cutler fumbled on third down and the ball was recovered back at midfield.After the Lions kicked a field goal, the Bears struck back when Cutler swung a pass out to Earl Bennett, who made the catch behind the line of scrimmage, got a block and outran the defense for a surprisingly easy 60-yard touchdown.Joique Bell fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, and the Bears kicked a field goal. In the second quarter, Stafford fumbled deep in his own territory. Julius Peppers recovered, and his short return gave the Bears the ball at the 10.Matt Forte scored on a 1-yard run to make it 17-3.The Lions weren’t done giving the ball away. Tim Jennings picked off Stafford’s overthrown pass, and his 31-yard return to the Detroit 23 set up another field goal.Stafford’s 25-yard scoring pass to Kris Durham with 12 seconds left in the half made it 20-10, and he threw a 10-yarder in the third to Will Heller.

NOTES—Matt Spaeth left the game with a concussion…..The Bears were without Brian Urlacher (hamstring). He hasn’t played since Dec. 2.

Bulls snap two game skid, beat Wizards

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 17 points and lead the Chicago Bulls to an 87-77 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.Carlos Boozer added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls (16-12), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Belinelli made 7 of 16 shots in a reserve role as Richard Hamilton returned to the starting lineup. Hamilton had missed 12 games because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.Luol Deng scored 11 points after injuring his right ankle Tuesday in a loss to Houston.Bradley Beal led the NBA-worst Wizards (4-24) with 14 points. Kevin Seraphin had 12 points, and Emeka Okafor added 11 points and 18 rebounds for Washington, which has lost nine of 10.Wizards leading scorer Jordan Crawford, averaging 16 points per game, sat out because of a left ankle injury.The Wizards pulled to within three with 5:19 left after Okafor put back Shelvin Mack’s missed free throw. But Belinelli answered with a three-pointer, and Boozer hit a jumper for an 84-77 lead.Both teams struggled from the field as the Bulls shot 39 percent, and the Wizards connected on 37 percent. Washington scored 51 points in the final three quarters after putting up 26 points in the first period.The Bulls hadn’t played since Tuesday because their Wednesday night game against the Pacers was postponed due to snow in Indianapolis.The Bulls led 45-39 at halftime after shooting 39 percent. Deng led the Bulls with nine points. Seraphin had 10 points for the Wizards.The Bulls opened the third quarter on an 11-4 run to take a 56-43 lead. The Wizards responded with a 15-4 spurt to pull within two with 3:35 left in the period. The Bulls quickly pushed its advantage back to nine after a tip-in by Joakim Noah, a 3-pointer by Kirk Hinrich, and Belinelli’s dunk.Washington got back within three points early in the final quarter, but the Bulls again had an answer. Nate Robinson made a layup, and Belinelli sank another 3-pointer to push the Bulls back in front by eight.The Wizards got off to a strong start, leading by as many as eight in the first quarter and taking a 26-22 lead at the end of the period.Washington went cold in the second quarter, shooting 4 of 21. The Bulls started the period on an 8-2 run to retake the lead.Garrett Temple started at guard for the Wizards in place of Mack. Temple, signed by Washington on Tuesday, had 13 points, six assists and six rebounds Friday in a win over Orlando that snapped an eight-game losing streak.Belinelli had started at shooting guard while Hamilton was sidelined. Belinelli had averaged 15.3 points per game in 12 starts compared to just 5 points in 14 games as a reserve.Hamilton had nine points in 15 minutes Saturday.Belinelli replaced Hamilton with 4:38 left in the first quarter after Hamilton got off to a 2-for-5 start. Belinelli scored six points in the first half.

NOTES—Washington is 1-13 on the road this season. … The Wizards have lost 12 times in their past 15 trips to Chicago but they beat the Bulls 87-84 last April in their previous trip.


Illini hold off Auburn

Brandon Paul looks at the rest of the Illinois roster and sees no reason why the Illini can’t compete in the Big Ten.At this point, who can argue? Tracy Abrams scored a career-high 27 points and No. 12 Illinois tuned up for conference play with an 81-79 victory over Auburn on Saturday.The Illini (13-1) saw an 11-point lead shrink to one in the closing minutes but they prevailed after falling to Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game a week earlier — their first loss under coach John Groce. Their next game is the conference opener at Purdue on Wednesday, and Paul believes they are ready.He sees more confidence and more talent than in recent years.

“I just feel like we have a lot more weapons and a lot more confidence, not only in myself but the guys that I play with,” Paul said. “They come in with the mindset that they’re going to compete every game and play hard and what’s going to dictate the end of the game is how we play.”

They had to scratch and claw for this one, and things got real tense when Frankie Sullivan buried a 3 for Auburn (5-7) to make it 68-67 with 4:29 remaining. Illinois then hit 13 of 18 free throws the rest of the way for a rare win at the United Center, where they had dropped three straight and five of six after winning 18 in a row.They can thank Abrams.The sophomore guard came up big on a day when Paul was off target, going 6 of 11 from the field and 13 of 15 from the free throw line while eclipsing his previous high by five points.Paul, meanwhile, finished with 13 points but hit just 3 of 12 shots. He missed all five 3-point attempts and the Illini again struggled from the outside, going 4 of 15 after hitting 8 of 32 against Missouri.Even so, they head into conference play on a winning note.Sullivan led Auburn with 21 points. Rob Chubb scored 13, and Allen Payne chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds. But the Tigers committed 20 turnovers — six by Chris Denson and five by Sullivan — even though Illinois wasn’t pressing.Josh Wallace hit a 3-pointer at the final buzzer for Auburn to make it a two-point game, but by then, the Illini had sealed the win.Both teams hit 16 of 30 shots in the first half, but Illinois took a 47-42 lead with Abrams scoring 16 points. He hit two free throws with 4 minutes left in the half to break a 39-39 tie and start a 14-5 run that stretched into the second half.The only points for Auburn during that stretch came on a three-point play by Wallace with 2:22 remaining before halftime and two free throws by Chubb with 17:15 left in the game before D.J. Richardson hit two of his own for Illinois, making it 53-44.The Tigers went more than seven minutes without a field goal before Sullivan’s layup with 15 minutes remaining. But Paul answered with a wild one of his own, flipping the ball over his shoulder and into the basket as he slipped near the baseline.That was one of the highlight reel plays in a game that Groce said was the “grindiest 80-point game I’ve been involved in.” Now, the real grind is beginning.

Ramblers beat Demons for first time since 1989

ROSEMONT—Cully Payne scored 24 points to lead Loyola to a 69-61 victory over DePaul on Saturday.Christian Thomas added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Loyola (9-3) in the Ramblers’ first victory over DePaul since 1989, and only the second for Loyola on DePaul’s home court in 21 meetings.The Ramblers, who had lost 11 straight to DePaul in the series, won their third straight game and seventh in the last eight, while stopping DePaul’s seven-game winning streak. The Blue Demons dropped to 9-4.After forcing seven ties in the first half, the Ramblers took the lead for the first time on Payne’s 3-point shot with 17:15 left. After a pair of lead changes, the Ramblers went on a 12-1 run highlighted by 3-pointers by Payne and Jordan Hicks.Brandon Young led DePaul with 18 points. Worrell Clahar added 10 for the Blue Demons.

Rockets turn Flames into scuds 74-55

TOLEDO—Rian Pearson recorded his first double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Toledo pulled away to beat UIC 74-55 Saturday in a nonconference matchup.Reese Holliday added 16 points, and Nathan Boothe finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks for Toledo (4-6).Holliday made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half to help the Rockets take a 39-30 lead into halftime.Ahead 47-40 with 15:05 left in the second half, Toledo went on an 18-5 run to push the lead to 20, 65-45, with 5:55 left to play.UIC (9-4) shot 34.5 percent (10 for 29) in the second half.Pearson scored 15 points in the second half, and Toledo made 12 of 14 free throws in the period to seal the victory.Daniel Barnes went 6 of 10 from deep to lead the Flames with 18 points.

Soul Edge Past Comets For Back-to-Back Victory

Chicago Soul

HOFFMAN ESTATES—The Chicago Soul claimed their first back-to-back victory on Friday when they defeated the Missouri Comets 13-8 at the Sears Centre Arena. Powered by Carlos Muñoz’s pair of goals, the Soul were able to pull away late in the match to grab the win and improve to a 4-8 overall record.After a back-and-forth battle that resulted in a tie game heading into the final period of play, The Soul was finally able to gain momentum on a goal by Fred Degand that put the Soul on top, 10-8. Muñoz then sealed the game, firing from the 3-point range to make it 13-8.

“I think we played well in the first half, but I think we played harder in the second,” said Muñoz. “We maintained possession, created more shots and more chances, and we’ve gotten better at finishing now, so we were able to put away the game.”

Missouri opened up the scoring on a three-point goal by Lucas Rodriguez in the first quarter. The Soul came up with an answer as Carlos Farias found the back of the net to make it a 3-2 Comets lead. The Soul added fuel to the fire when Muñoz netted one in to make it a 4-3 Soul advantage.Ramone Palmer restored Missouri’s lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter to make it 5-4, with the Comets in favor.Bato Radoncic edged the Soul back in the lead after volleying the ball into the net early in the third quarter, but Missouri’s Milan Ivanovic fired from the 3-point arc to make it an 8-6 Comets advantage. Radoncic struck again with 11 seconds remaining in the period, and both teams headed into the fourth tied at 8 apiece.

“I’m definitely seeing a lot of improvement in these guys,” Soul Head Coach Novi Marojevic said of his team. “They are playing better and better each game, but we still have a long way to go. We have to continue to put in a lot of hard work and effort.”

The Soul travel to Wichita next to face off against the Wings for Game 2 of their doubleheader weekend. Kickoff is set for 7:35 p.m. CT at the Hartman Arena. The Soul return home to take on the Syracuse Silver Knights on January 4 at the Sears Centre Arena.

Bears take advantage of awful Cardinal play for 28-13 win to keep Playoff chances alive

GLENDALE—The Bears defense outscored Arizona all by itself on a day when they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score and Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another TD in the Bears’ 28-13 victory over the punchless Cardinals.It was the third pick Tillman has brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by the Bears, one shy of the NFL record.Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 68 yards and a TD, breaking the Bears franchise record for yards receiving in a season in the process.The Bears (9-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.To make the playoffs as a wild card, the Bears must win at Detroit in their regular-season finale next Sunday, then have Minnesota lose to Green Bay or have Seattle lose its final two games. The Seahawks were home against San Francisco Sunday night.Matt Forte gained 88 yards in 12 carries, including a 4-yard TD run, before leaving with an ankle injury early in the second half.Jay Cutler completed just one of his first 11 passes, then went 5 of 5 on a touchdown drive in the final minutes of the first half. He finished 12 of 26 for 146 yards and a touchdown.It was the defense’s dominance of Arizona’s NFL-worst offense that determined the outcome.The Cardinals continued to search for someone to move the ball.After he threw the interception to Tillman put the Bears up 28-6 on Arizona’s first offensive series after halftime, rookie Ryan Lindley was benched in favor of Brian Hoyer, claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh 13 days earlier.Kelvin Hayden picked off Hoyer’s pass late in the game and returned it 39 yards to the Arizona 10.But Adrian Wilson blocked Olindo Mare’s 20-yard field goal try and Justin Bethel returned it 82 yards with 1:46 to play for the Cardinals’ lone TD of the day. Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 111 yards, just his second 100-yard receiving game of the season. The first was in Week 3 against Philadelphia when the Cardinals were off to a 4-0 start.Marshall made a diving grab of Cutler’s long pass at the Arizona 14 early in the game, but Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt threw the challenge flag before the Bears could get the next play off. After the review, the pass was ruled incomplete.No matter, the Bears scored a moment later anyway.The Bears pinned the Cardinals deep and, on second-and-11 from the 3, Beanie Wells’ right knee gave way and he dropped the ball as he went backside first to the ground. Bowman grabbed it and skidded over the goal line for the first touchdown for the Bears defense since Nov. 4.Fitzgerald’s leaping grab of Lindley’s 18-yard pass helped set up Jay Feely’s 49-yard field goal that cut it to 7-3.But Forte rambled 36 yards on the final play of the first quarter and Cutler threw 30 yards to Marshall to the Arizona 4 – the Bears quarterback’s first completion of the game in seven throws. Forte carried it in from there and the Bears led 14-3.Arizona’s defense forced a Bears punt from their 6, and the Cardinals took over at the Bear 32. But Lindley threw three errant passes, and a fake field goal of what would have been a 50-yard attempt went nowhere.The Bears soon gave Arizona another chance when Dave Zastudil’s punt careened off the Bears’ D.J. Moore and bounced into the hands of the Cardinals’ Michael Adams. Adams raced to the end zone but, as a muffed punt, it was brought back to the Bear 36. Arizona advanced to the 18 before Feely’s 35-yard field goal cut the lead to 14-6 with 2:18 left in the half.That was plenty of time for Cutler, who after completing one of his first 11 passes, went 5-for-5, capped by an 11-yarder to a wide open Marshall, to put the Bears up 21-6 with 19 seconds left in the half. The highlight of the drive was a diving grab of Cutler’s 35-yard pass by Alshon Jeffery.

NU easily handles overmatched Brown 63-42

EVANSTON—This won’t help a power rating, but Dave Sobolewski scored 14 points to lead Northwestern in a 63-42 victory over Brown on Sunday.Kale Abrahamson, Alex Marcotullio and Tre Demps each had nine points for the Wildcats (9-4) in their final game before Big Ten play begins.Sean McGonagill scored 20 points to lead Brown (3-6), which has lost three straight and five of six.Northwestern made 13 of 24 from 3-point range, with Sobolewski and Marcotullio each hitting three. Six Wildcat players made at least one 3-pointer.Reggie Hearn, leading Northwestern with 14.5 points per game, did not play because of an ankle injury suffered in Friday’s 70-68 loss to Stanford. Marcotullio started in Hearn’s place.