Cutler must be cautious against Panthers

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Cutler must be cautious against Panthers

By this point, everyone has seen the vicious hit Bears quarterback Jay Cutler sustained last week from Lions defensive tackle Ndamakung Suh. Fortunately, Cutler only suffered bruised ribs from the hit and avoided what could have a significant shoulder injury. He toughed it out and finished the game against the Lions, but the injury left him feeling uncomfortable during the duration of the game.

There hasn't really been any clarification on what Cutlers injury entails other than bruised ribs. Cutler has expressed being sore all week, but has been able to practice. In my experience, bruised ribs can be nagging, linger, and take a long time to heal if damage to rib cartilage is involved. Just about every breath you take is an uncomfortable reminder of the problem, and most defenders will try to hit you in the rib strike zone, which is below the neck and above the waist just due to the rules of the game. 

It will be imperative for Cutler, when facing the Carolina Panthers, not to take any unnecessary hits. Bears fans should look to see if most hits to Cutler are focused to the midsection area. Panthers players know where Cutler is hurting. Put the New Orleans Saints Bounty nonsense aside, but it is only realistic to expect Cutlers ribs will be targeted from a rules standpoint alone  It is the area of the body most quarterbacks take hits within the pocket and is also why bruised ribs take a long time to heal because those hits keep aggravating an already sore injury. Every time I thought I was healed, I would get tagged inflaming the area again and the healing process had to start over.   

Running out of bounds, sliding, and throwing the ball away all need to be utilized by Cutler starting against the Panthers. Cutler, the organization, and Bears fans know all too well what life can be like without their starting quarterback on the field from last season.

Bulls can't answer Wesley Matthews' game-winner in loss to Mavericks

Bulls can't answer Wesley Matthews' game-winner in loss to Mavericks

It was believed the Bulls needed no extra motivation going against a Dallas Mavericks team that's a half-game away from being worst in the Western Conference.

The Mavericks gave them a 25-point shellacking in Texas last month, giving the Bulls enough film to make a horror show. Usually these instances even out over 82 games.

But this is no ordinary season for the Bulls, and the Mavericks again emerged victorious when Wesley Matthews got free for a triple on one end and locked up his college teammate Jimmy Butler on the other end, leading to a 99-98 Mavericks win.

It looked like another Butler special when Butler nailed a step-up, contested jumper over Matthews to give the Bulls a 98-96 lead, completing his 24-point night.

But Matthews was undeterred, breaking free on the wing for a triple when Dwyane Wade had to help Nikola Mirotic on a Deron Williams drive with 11.7 seconds left.

And on the final possession, the Bulls' spacing looked gummed up when Butler couldn’t shake free of Matthews, forcing him to pitch it to Wade, who put up a heavily contested 21-foot jumper from the baseline

It caromed off the rim, and the Mavericks danced happily off the floor for their first three-game winning streak of the year, this win completing a season sweep of the Bulls.

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Butler scored 24 with 12 assists and nine rebounds but was 5-for-12 from the field as Matthews was in his chest all night. Wade had a strong fourth quarter on his 35th birthday but missed 13 of his 21 shots to score 17.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 and Seth Curry's 18 as the Mavericks made 11 triples and had 27 assists, frustrating the Bulls.

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 20 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn’t have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The Mavericks played tougher and smarter with their personnel, and the Bulls got to see what happens when Wade or Butler can't save the day.

Bulls' Rajon Rondo oddly runs behind back of former coach Rick Carlisle

Bulls' Rajon Rondo oddly runs behind back of former coach Rick Carlisle

Is Rajon Rondo avoiding his former coach?

During Tuesday night's Bulls-Mavericks game, Rondo awkwardly ran behind Mavs coach Rick Carlisle as the third quarter was winding down.

Take a look at the play in the video above.

Rondo, who played with the Mavericks in the 2014-15 season, had a weird relationship with Carlisle. Most notably, he and Carlisle had a heated exchange during a game on Feb. 24, 2015 against the Toronto Raptors. It eventually led to Carlisle saying that Rondo was a bad fit for the Mavericks and that the team should have never traded for him.

On Tuesday, Rondo apparently shook Carlisle's hand before he checked in the game for the first time in the first quarter. 

All is well, it seems, but that was still weird.