Bears 'lucky' four more times vs. Lions

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Bears 'lucky' four more times vs. Lions

Alabama coaching legend Paul Bear Bryant long preached that Luck follows speed. Along with that was the insight that The harder I work, the luckier I get.

No argument from linebacker Lance Briggs, who took issue last week when a question was raised about the role of luck in takeaways, particularly ones coming in the kinds of clusters being forced by the Bears.

Let me get this right, he said to the questioner. So youre saying me and Peanut and everyone has just been lucky?

No, that wasnt the suggestion.

Of course, there is a little bit of luck, but a lot of that stuff comes from really just playing hard, Briggs said. If Im not running to the ball when the ball is tipped in Jacksonville, there is no interception.

Its about how we play the game. If you play the game hard, there is some opportunities there; just dont miss the opportunities.

Briggs then made his point Monday night with a fumble forced from running back Mikel Leshoure inside the Chicago 20, recovered by Julius Peppers, who was lucky enough to out-maul a pride of Lions, to end a potentially momentum-changing Detroit drive.

Zackary Bowman marked his first game back in a lucky Bears uniform when he pounced on a punt muffed by Stefan Logan at the Detroit 27. That was turned into a Robbie Gould field goal.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton reached up a lucky hand and knocked the ball out of Joique Bells unlucky hands when the Detroit running back tried to stretch and put the all across the goal line in the third quarter. The fumble was recovered by Brian Urlacher. Luckily.

With 2:39 to play, D.J. Moore got lucky for the second time this year when he intercepted Matthew Stafford at the Chicago four on a fourth-and-goal.

The Bears lead the NFL with 21 takeaways, three more than New England and the New York Giants. Since the start of the Lovie Smith tenure in 2004, the Bears lead the NFL with 287 takeaways. New England is back at 260.

We practice it every day, Moore said. Weve got someone like Peanut Charles Tillman, who does it time and time again, and it gets contagious. Then you have Lance and Urlacher and all those guys doing it in practice, practicing, stripping and getting takeaways.

Its just contagious.

Jay says Jay OK

Quarterback Jay Cutler said Tuesday on his ESPN radio show that there is zero chance of him not playing next Sunday, although he said hed be good to go on Thursday instead of the usual Wednesday practice.

His coach is feeling the same.

From what Im told, hes OK, Smith told Bears play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak on WBBM-AM Tuesday. He should be good to go.

Joniak asked Smith what the coach thought of the hit by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on which Cutler was driven into the Soldier Field turf with what looked on replays to be not just to tackle, but an intent to injure.

What hit? Smith countered. We hit their guys hard, too. I just refuse to believe there are guys out there trying to hurt each other.

At least one of his players can believe it.

Teammate Brandon Marshall went on Twitter to admonish Suh for the tackle but Cutler stayed with the code by which players and coaches pass on publicly denouncing apparent actions outside the rules of the NFL or professional respect.

"I think it was a clean hit, Cutler said on his show on WMVP-AM 100 show. That defense, you know going into it what their intentions are. They play hard football, they get after the quarterback, they're tough tacklers, that's just who they are. I'm not going to take anything away from him. I still think it was clean, and he's a good player.

And that's what makes him who he is, is playing that way."

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."